Click to Subscribe
▶  More from
Mask Miasma
A Crackpot Report on Imperial Railroad Logistics: Dateline 3/13/21
Towards the final leg of the four day trip out of California into the East, as I boarded the final train, the Capitol Limited from Chicongo to Mordor, knowing with a sigh of relief that I would be detraining in Pittsburgh and not going all the way to Mordor, I noted that mask mandate enforcement had changed yet again, that the federal agents tasked with our obedience had drawn some tolerance lines.
The Amtrak cops want to take their own masks off, so avoid the passengers and hide when possible.
The Amtrak cops do not have high confrontation tolerance and have declined to enforce bans of various types of masks. A count of gators, bandannas, veils, and homemade Amish masks would require triple the police to enforce mask purity.
Fully 20% of travelers do not even cover the nose and this is far more prominent with the medical style masks, so the enforcers are really glad to see bandannas that are held up by the nose. Such are the rocks of minutia upon which many ships of state founder.
Social distancing mandates have caused racial segregation among passengers to return to 1950s levels.
But there was something else bedeviling the Amtrak cops, as they all act like police now, uniformed as they are in military wise, and are doing so with an eye towards hospitality. For, like the big man from West Virginia who was the conductor on the Capital Limited, he was trained to administer to vacationing upper middle class on a rolling hotel-business airline. A handful of those folks have returned and are being catered to away from the rest of us.
However, the business class traveler is gone. Amtrak patrons are now either vacationing couples insulated from the lower class in the coach cars in their own private cars on the other side of the dinning car, which serves now as the Amtrak Police station on wheels, where the cops stay and only the upper class can traverse, with us proles stuck in coach. The rules change from region to region:
-West Coast: mask Naziism, constant threat of expulsion, social distancing encouraged
-Desert: mask liberalism, no threats or social distancing encouragement
-Mountain: draconian Mormon mask enforcers, many threats, but social distancing not encouraged
-Plains: mask liberalism, no threats or social distance encouragement
-Mississippi to Mordor: mask liberalism, minimal threats, social distancing absolutely enforced, with all common space denied and people locked down in their own seats
Our conductor is a 32-year veteran, a man who lives in central West Virginia, drives two hours to D.C. Across route 50 and stands 6' 4” and weighs perhaps 320—a mountain of a man with a kind disposition. There was a talkative passenger, a Norwegian man from the Great Lakes who lost his grain crop and was moving to be with relatives, who was speaking with a trucker whose truck had broken down and was being trained to a terminal to pick up another rig, and who included the Conductor in their conversation.
In my first words in 3.5 days, I asked what time we might get into Pittsburgh, knowing that it was usually scheduled for 5 A.M., but last year was starting to run late despite the low passenger count and minimal stops.
He said, “We are on schedule for 5:30,” and then laughed. “Theoretically we get to Pittsburgh at 5:30. But freight trains headed west have turned this into an ordeal. The freight is running three times as often as it did last year—big trains.”
The grain man speaking with the trucker than spoke of how they were now being told to transport their own grain to silos and not use trucks anymore. This reminded me that since October, I saw two freight trains that, according to an old country music singer in October and a conductor this March, were the largest they had ever seen, with up to 7 engines pulling and pushing a single train of between 200 and 300 cars—many double stacked. What was in these trains in the west I know not, though they were mostly containers and box cars.
The trains that constantly stopped us and set us behind two hours, did so in the dark. I could only see the cars on one of them, and they were three miles of grain containers, not liquid. The trucker behind me hauled all liquids and he said it was like being constantly rear-ended in a traffic accident and he was glad his truck could not do more than 65MPH.
So I wondered, what is all this excess stuff being shipped, 50% more in the west, 300% more in the east, and 400% more from the east to the west?
I do not know, but that, and us loser refugees, and maintaining the small number of vacation passengers in comfort, is what obsessed these conductors and engineers, with the passenger train shuffling a bunch of freight engineers in the Rockies and announcing to us that the delay for us would mean food for the nation. Brad, the comedic geologist conductor on the Colorado line reminded us that the five feet of snow supposed to hit Denver would stop trucks in their tracks but not even slow down the steel wheels of the trains.
It fascinates that America returns to the industrial technology of the train as it plunges into the information age cage and discourages the automobile that was the hallmark of the brief Atomic Age. The train yards in Chicago and Pittsburgh are massive and have much more capacity sitting idle. I think that Fate placed more on the rails to regal me with a vantage of a paradigm shift.
It is a beautiful early spring day in Pittsburgh, birds singing, and I wonder about our Master Class. Looking at the Soviet Union, askance in my youth, we all regarded it as painfully obvious that the KGB ran that nation. This was confirmed when Putin took the Czarist Throne. Yet, despite the fact that we have the accurately named Central Intelligence Agency acting as the moral queen of a gaslit hive, a hive that has seen the elevation of one CIA head to president, and the assassination of one president and the dethroning of another according to its wiles, us American humans insist that we run the national brain, and deny that we, the hair and fingernails of greatest nation ever to straddle this planet, do not grow, and are not cut and colored according to the whims of the great central brain.
We are almost insects now.
Maybe the thing that is rising that stops rubber tires and tolerates the great iron dragons, steel wheels screaming and great horns blaring through the night faster than a car, maybe that will help us be human again. Or maybe, the upper echelons of humanity are hiving-up against what comes.
The mute, aging, runty writer, unable to sleep through the blaring and rumbling night behind the pink haired homo being spooned and petted by his Asian lover, felt fortunate to be alive as the lying world denying reality finally gives way to the truth-drowned setting of a dystopian science-fiction yarn such as those written when I was young.
prev:  You Should Be Better Known     ‹  blog  ›     next:  How Can You Say Debate is Gay?


Book report requestMar 27, 2021

Master Lafonde could you read "Cannibals All: Or Slaves Without Masters" by George Fitzhugh (1857 book https://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/fitzhughcan/menu.html )

It's also on archive.org

Listening to you seems like a modern version of this. I'd like your take on it and things given where we're at. Big fan of hobo histories, Myth20thc, & Rusty Vignettes.

Thanks if you do it. Thanks for what you've done already anyhow if you don't do it. Farewell.
Add a new comment below:
NAME  
EMAIL  
MSG