Best Western Pioneer Square is a gorgeous hotel, big rooms, free Internet, super staff. I wish I could stay here all week, but want to be closer to the folks. So tomorrow it's Avis and then Renton.
A retirement-age woman gets on the train with a huge wheeled suitcase and two ginormous BB&B bags filled with pillows and bedding. I end up following her and this load 5 cars to the dining car. The story she gives is her room was not ready and the staffer told her to wait in the dining car. Staffer probably told her to park her stuff in the baggage rack downstairs, but somehow that didn't make it to the woman's brain. Nor did the concept of letting people not so encumbered pass her.
The dining car stayed open for those of us getting on in SJ (at 8:30 pm) and I was seated across the table from a tall blonde man in his late 20's, and as soon as I sat down he excused himself to "make a personal phone call". He comes back 10 minutes later just as the main dish arrives, and instead of going to the table he goes straight to the server's area and asks for his steak. Which was not quite ready yet. The server gets him to sit at the table, where there is already a salad an bread, and the guy huddles into the corner of the table furthest from me, and stabs handfuls of salad, shoving the stuff into his face as if he hasn't eaten for days, and the other Dobermans are just as hungry and will be coming around the corner any second now. Salad out of the way, he drowns the steak in A1, and scarfs it down in about 5 minutes. And then he gets up, say thanks the server (as if he had been done some kind of special favor) and heads off in the wrong direction. A minute later he comes through again, thanks the staff again, and heads for his sleeper car. He was in a hurry the whole trip. I wonder what he is running from.
Breakfast, I am seated with three people who are almost finished eating. Amtrak dining staff is sometimes clueless that way. Nobody is speaking, and since they are leaving soon I'm not about to start. But the woman next to me stays a while after the couple across from us has gone (they don't speak much English, it turns out). I told her to let me know when she wanted to escape (I was blocking her way), and she thanked me and continued to not say anything. At the end of the trip, we both happen to be in the lounge car, and she strikes up a conversation. We talk for about 45 minutes before it's time to pack up.
At dinner, one of the staff is fiddling with a wall hanging - a painting of a Christmas tree. She takes it down. Another staffer asks what she's doing that for, and she says there are Christmas decorations all over the dining car but none in her room. She ignores the other staffer's pleas to leave it for the customers to enjoy.
Dinner in the lounge car. We have passed Olympia and the place is almost empty. I squeeze into a table - I don't quite fit. Very surprising because the dining car tables are no problem, and the rest of the lounge car seating is very comfortable. The music is playing loudly, a series of Christmas stuff, ranging from metal to operatic. Suddenly the music changes to Sinatra singing My Way,
followed by some other popular standards, at a low decibel level.