Who among us enjoys sharing confined spaces, armrests, and/or prime sprawling room with complete strangers who may or may not a) emit foul odors, b) relish long, high-volume cellular conversations while in transit no matter how many dirty looks you shoot them, c) carry airborne diseases ala Contagion, or d) count serial killing as a favorite hobby?
Say it with me people: personal space issues. It’s in the Feinberg DNA.
Let’s go ahead and skip over my thoughts on the space allotted to full grown human beings in the steel death machines currently traversing our skies. Another rant for another day. Instead, see below for a handy guide on how to appropriate two seats for the bargain price of one when traveling by train.
Now, unless you are taking the Capitol Limited line on the Amtrak from Washington, DC to Harpers Ferry, WV (been there done that, duh) chances are you are going to be hard-pressed to get a row to yourself when traveling by locomotive along the Northeast Corridor. But fret not, amigos. If you don’t mind looking like a hot mess and an asshole, my tried and true tips to taking up two seats on the train are fail-safe.
Step 1: Look bad.
You know how there are all those sociological studies about how pretty people get favored in the workplace and shiz like that? Well the same goes for picking seats on the Amtrak: everyone – male or female, old or young, white black Latino Asian or ethnically ambiguous – will sit next to the 20-something passably attractive female on the train when given the option. It’s science.
So when getting dressed to make the trek to Penn Station, exert every effort to look absolutely gross. I’m talking greasy weave, no makeup, unflattering old jeggings, stained beater from your days at summer camp, and a dingy cardigan with moth holes in it.
People, I am writing this to you from the Amtrak at this very moment. The outfit I just described is exactly what is clothing my body as we speak. And I am completely sprawled across two seats with not a single fellow rider eyeing the empty space next to me. Glory glory hallelujah!
2. Stinky food
Sounds easy, right? Just swing by Zaro’s on your way to the train and pick up an everything bagel with lox, onions and scallion cream cheese!
WRONG. That was a test, and you probably just failed. Suckers.
I don’t care how old that smoked salmon is, it’s just not going to ward off the middle aged yenta wearing too much perfume who boards at Trenton. You are going to need some NASA-grade pungent grub to keep that old bag at bay.
Enter any Chinese or Thai food with shrimp. Or pretty much any Indian food. Or a big plate of garlic knots. You don’t even need to eat it! Just open up the tray table in the adjacent seat (helps to claim it as your own), crack open the container, and let that nasty shiz waft waft waft. Victory is yours.
See here a glimpse onto the private island I like to call Aisle 6 on Amtrak Northeast Regional train#175 circa 8:30 pm on January 26th. What can I say, I practice what I preach.
3. Sleep like you’ve just been shot with a black market tranq gun
The clincher to my trifecta of sweet solitary bliss is to make oneself look so passed the eff out that not even Seal Team 6 would poke me with a ten foot pole.
The easiest way to do this is to drink one too many Jack and Gingers at Spring Lounge the night prior and be in an actual state of hungover torpor when you get to the train.
If not, just slump over so that your head is smushed up against the window and your ass is on the next seat, open your mouth about halfway like you can’t totally breathe out of your nose, and drool like ASkars awaits you at Union Station.
And that’s it! You’re free! No awkward small talk, no climbing over each other’s laps when it’s time for another cerveza from the cafe car, no creepily staring at what the other person is looking at on Facebook. Just three perfect hours of peace, quiet, and proving to the world once again that they simply cannot hold you down.