Thursday, September 27, 2018

Welcome to Missouri

Today was a lot of sitting, and not in the saddle. We are however, slowly making our way to the Katy Trail. 

We boarded the Amtrak at the Summit station, located in the Chicago suburbs. It's one of those train stations where there is not a depot or attendants. All of the passengers were lined up on the platform on the east side of the tracks, so we toted all of our baggage across the tracks. We see the train coming and it is pulling up to the other platform...the engineer stops the train and we all scurried back over the tracks. Thank goodness that we had some help getting our bags onto the train. There is nothing like dragging around panniers, camping gear and bicycles.
Gear on board.
The train ride to St Louis was rather uneventful. Of course we had to get off the train, walk over to the station, wait, and then walk right back to where we were to get back on the next train. It all worked out, especially for T, as a nice Amtrak employee picked her and the two bikes up with their little orange cart.
Rolling into St Louis
In the process of boarding the Missouri River Runner Amtrak train, one of the train attendants was helping us figure out where to put our bikes. He was black gentleman named Martin and was probably around 50. From down the way, the white conductor, about the same age, was yelling out suggestions on what we should do... he was a regular buttinsky, and in fact ended up making us drag those darn bicycles around more than we needed too! I ended up walking towards his end of the car, the bike over my shoulder. He looked at me and I just said there wasn't room at the other end. So he yells back at Martin, something to the effect of, "SON, you need to learn how to stack items into that space," which came across as very belittling.  I was horrified because it was clearly racist. These two men are the same age and that black man was certainly not his son. I said something to Martin on the train, and he just basically said that the guy was how we was. I told him that in Oregon this was not how we did things, and it was not okay.

The whole episode did not sit well with me. When we got off the train in Warrensburg, the whit conductor helped us get our bags off the train. Before we left, I told him that we observed what had happened on the platform in St Louis and how when he referred his colleague as "SON," it came across as racist, that it was not ok, and that it didn't feel safe. He looked at me, wondering what I was talking about. He made some comment, and it was clear that he had no idea that he actually referred to Martin as "SON." I also told him it was a great welcome to St Louis, Missouri.

So there we were in the tiny little Warrensburg depot at about 8:45pm putting our gear on to our bicycles. There's a young black guy (20ish) on the phone, but he stops his conversation to ask us about our bikes. We asked him if he was waiting for the train. He replied that he's waiting for a taxi and proceeds to refer to someone as a retard. Sigh... I already called out the guy on the train; I let this one go. Not next time. 
Night ride from the Warrensburg Amtrak Station to our hotel.
We rode our bikes two miles to the hotel and spent the next hour and a half deciding what we should mail home. In the end, we kept it all and were glad we did. We used everything we brought except first aid and tools (a very good thing!).

Selfie taken with phone in the handlebar mount.

1 comment:

  1. Can’t believe you called him out. Somehow Missouri did give me a little of an Old South vibe while traveling through some of the more rural stretches. Maybe just my imagination, but there was a shack in Tebbetts with some orange/red flag, and I was waiting for the wind to unfurl it and hoping it wouldn’t be the stars and bars. Never saw, though, and I’m hoping I was mistaken. Too much ugliness that should be let go has found a new foothold lately. I’m hopeful that it’s a last, desperate gasp of an older way of thinking. And it surely will be if people stand up to it. I would likely not be so brave. Well done.