A Train in Carolina

by Jay Nordlinger

In this journal, I mention a woman on a plane, who asked me a startling question. It was just before takeoff. She said, “Sir, have you ever flown before?” She had a question about procedures. In the journal, I say, “These days, everyone flies, right? I mean, it’s as common as walking, or bike riding. But no: Not everyone flies. Some of us are pretty lucky, to move about, over vast distances, pretty much at will.”

Want to publish a letter from a reader.

You’ve brought to mind a question I was asked once while on an Amtrak train going through the backwoods and swamps of South Carolina at dusk, passing ramshackle sheds and ropes of vine in an eerie mist. [This lady is a writer!] The train was almost empty and a man boarded and sat just a row behind me, diagonally. He wore a bandana, jeans, and a sleeveless vest emblazoned with a motorcycle gang emblem.

As I contemplated the likelihood of my impending doom, I must have seemed nervous and shifted in my seat, because after 15 or so minutes, the most innocent, sweet, polite male voice asked, “Ma’am? Is this your first time traveling on a train, too?”

It’s very good to be reminded that the constant traveling many of us take for granted is not a universal experience.

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