First, decide that you need to go to the dentist because the guilt of them reminding you of your six-month checkup, two years after your last six-month checkup, is just too much. They keep calling and sending little postcards, no one you know keeps in that good touch with you. Note that the term “general dentistry” is both funny and frightening. Make sure that your dentist is a two-hour train ride away in your hometown, because it’s a good excuse to see your mom, and also to have her pay for it because only billionaires and some select millionaires have dental insurance these days.
Then, time your walk to Penn Station so you get there exactly when the train is boarding, because every extraneous second spent in Penn Station is the worst second, despite the fact that the woman who announces trains has an incredibly soothing voice. She sounds like a really great fourth grade teacher or a cool aunt. Penn Station also plays classical music, offers beer in plastic to-go cups with straws, and show videos of police dogs in action. You know what? Penn Station isn’t that bad. If your train were delayed, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
When your train is an hour and a half delayed, and you are over the classical music (way to have NO WORDS, classical music!), and there are only so many times you can laugh when you hear Soothing Voiced Lady say, “trains to Ronkonkoma,” and who cares about a video of dogs, you want to see REAL DOGS, you may once again come to the conclusion that Penn Station is The Worst.
When your track is finally announced try to act nonchalant as dozens of people swarm to the gate. Resist the urge to yell, “We’re all going to get on the train so everyone JUST CHILL OUT, OK???” Also note that now is not the time to teach the course you’ve been developing, “Personal Space and the Value of it to You and Everyone Around You 101.”
Board the train and find an empty row. Sit next to the window and place your bag so it sort of spills over onto the seat next to you, not so you’re blatantly keeping a seat, but just enough so it doesn’t look inviting. Pull out a copy of Arrive: The Magazine for Northwest Business Travelers, from the pouch in front of you. Read an article in Arrive: The Magazine for Northwest Business Travelers about a cheese shop in Brooklyn. Put the magazine in your bag, because there’s a photo in there of a handsome cheesemonger that you want to show your friend. Jot down an idea to start a magazine called Train Mall, which will be like Sky Mall, but for trains. Look around you to make sure that no idea thieves have seen you do this.
Make phone calls that you secretly hope are broken up because service is spotty on the train. Shout into your phone, “Sorry! I’ll call you back, service is spotty on the train!” Then note that there are several prominently placed signs that read QUIET CAR, and you’re getting mean looks from people. Sheepishly put away your phone.
Walk to the dining car and purchase one (1) can of Coca Cola, one (1) mini bottle of white wine, and one (1) packet of peanut M&M’s. Consume the white wine. Return for another mini bottle because you realize that it would be irresponsible, nay, disrespectful to your dentist to eat M&M’s before your appointment. Recall that once a traveling scientist/dentist came to your elementary school and performed a demonstration of how soda damages your teeth by dipping a giant model of a tooth attached to a string into a vat of Coke, and when he pulled it out it was all brown and eroded and steaming. Conclude that although that might have been a traveling scientist/dentist propaganda scare tactic, it’s probably safest to stick with wine.
Listen to music for a while and keep turning up the volume because why is it so soft? Your headphones might be broken. Then notice more mean looks from people around you and realize that your headphones are not plugged in and you’re just blasting music from your phone in the Quiet Car. At least you introduced them to a cool song. Nevertheless, again, sheepishly put away your phone.
Feel the need to explain to your fellow passengers that your recent behavior is not representative of who you are. Stand up and say in a strong voice coupled with confident hand gestures, “I am one of you! I am a very considerate person who would never disturb the Quiet of this Car! Please believe me!” Then start a slow clap. When no one joins in shout, “I’m not on this train to make friends! I have enough friends!” You might be drunk.
As the conductor approaches, show yourself out of the Quiet Car. Spend the remainder of your trip in the Dining Car, where people understand you.