Congress is at it again…
It occurred to me on our last Coast Starlight trip from Albany, OR to Salinas, CA that the Amtrak dining car is one of the last bastions of the vaunted American melting pot.
Gone is the army draft, that threw together people from all walks of life and forced them to work together for a common purpose. Gone is school integration. Gone, is pretty much anything that forces the diverse population of America to interact, and see each other as complex people, not stereotypes.
The Amtrak dining car is still here, but maybe not for long. Congress can’t pass a transportation bill, but they can decide that Amtrak doesn’t need dining cars on long distance trains.
The dining car practices ‘family seating’ and you never know who you will be sitting with. We have had the most interesting conversations with folks we met in the dining car, and have found all kinds of connections. On our last trip we sat with a couple who on first blush seemed very different from us, and talked about careers, children, grandchild, and of course; transportation. It turns out that we had a lot in common, and exchanged contacts – no an uncommon occurrence on the train.
It is too bad there are not more opportunities that force us to meet people we wouldn’t normally interact with – it seems like the American melting pot is danger, and one more promoter of it is being lost.
Write your legislators today and demand that Congress leave our dining cars alone… They are hurting the great American melting pot!
Larry Plotkin, Chief Advocate, Casprail.org