I’m posting this here in case you don’t follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or in general like a stalker.
On Wednesday, I took an Amtrak to Raleigh, North Carolina. I planned to draw a cartoon in my hotel room that night, work on ideas with CNN on Thursday, attend an event Thursday night, then return Friday morning and draw the CNN cartoon on a train.
I got the idea for drawing on the train Wednesday when I saw people on their laptops in the dining car. There was WiFi, air conditioning, and $10.00 sandwiches that looked like feet. I thought, other than the foot sandwiches, this is nice. I’ll draw my cartoon here Friday morning. With a five-hour train ride, it should be done by the time I get back home in Virginia. I did it but it wasn’t easy.
As soon as the train started rolling, they announced that the WiFi was out. What the? Mother mother effer effer hell hell. Fine. I don’t need WiFi to draw and I could use the 4G service in my phone to email back and forth if I had to. I just couldn’t send the cartoon.
So, I went back to the dining car where the air conditioning was also out. On top of that, there was a constant ringing sound. I asked other people if they could hear it too. They did so it wasn’t just me…thank God. There were also people with crying babies who thought it would be better to annoy the people in the dining car instead of the people in the coach section.
As for the actual drawing, it was very difficult. It was in the nearly-impossible department. The train itself was shaking, but so was the screen on my Surface Pro. Amanda later sent me this article that a lot of users, though rare, are experiencing shaking screens on their Surfaces when they get hot. I’ve had mine for three years and it just started doing this a few months ago.
So, I’m on this train, dripping sweat on a screen that won’t stop shaking with a constant “NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRR!!!!” and crying babies in my ears. It was like being in India without the smell…until for some reason, that showed up too. So, I drew this cartoon just to have some fun with my readers. I took a photo with my phone and tweeted/Facebooked/Instagrammed it out. People loved it. I also sent it to my editors as a joke but they didn’t respond to it. Fortunately, they got a real cartoon shortly before the train got to Fredericksburg, where I didn’t.
The WiFi and air came back in Richmond, so I had about 50 minutes of some comfort. For some reason, my heated-up Surface stopped shaking and I barrelled through with the cartoon. A lot of people standing in line for food were looking over my shoulder, but only one person started a conversation. As it turns out, he is a journalism professor in North Carolina and we became Facebook and real-time friends right there.
And…then I missed my stop.
How’d I miss my stop? The train was running fifteen minutes behind schedule and they were making up for lost time. Usually, when the train stops in Fredericksburg, it takes about five to ten minutes. I was packing my stuff up while a line of people got in front of my table…for food. Why are they jamming the aisles during a stop? I couldn’t get past those people and the train started rolling after only stopping for what I swear was six seconds. At first, I thought it was just moving up a few feet to accommodate people, but then it increased speed and I knew I was going to Quantico…or New York City if I kept missing stops.
Looking back, I shouldn’t have even bothered telling one of the Amtrak guys but I did. He gave me a lecture on how to get off a train and said I needed to tell this other Amtrak guy. The other Amtrak guy then gave me another lecture on how to get off a train. They were extremely defensive and expressed vehemently how missing my stop was my fault and I’m probably an idiot who deserves capital punishment for doing so. Sure. Fine. Build my gallows high, but their lectures weren’t resolving my situation. The second Amtrak dude suggested I get off at Quantico and take an Uber home. I said to the first Amtrak idiot, “Why did you want me to talk to him? He’s less help than you are.” A few minutes later, one of them sought me out to give me another lecture on how to get off a train, and I said, “you need to stop talking to me.” I did not need to get a $50 Uber in Quantico. I bought a $5.00 ticket on the VRE and head south, back to Fredericksburg about ten minutes after getting off the Amtrak.
From there, I went to a bar because I needed a beer. They sell beer on Amtrak, but a Bud Light will cost you about ten dollars.
I drew this cartoon in about two minutes. There is not a video for it. Maybe I should have made one. It would have been about ten seconds long.