a logscribble by hvincent

The Cardinal is substantially emptier than the Lakeshore Limited; I get both seats to myself. My knees grumble about the bike ride, so I pop ibuprofin to shut them up. Last call for dining car service happens as soon as my ticket is taken, and I decide I want to splurge.

I get seated across from a man in his 70s, dining by himself. Almost everyone in the dining car is over 70. "I'll just put this away now," my tablemate says, as he turns off his video-streaming phone. We don't exchange any other words.

My drink options are Bud, Miller, Corona, or Heineken. Heineken gets priced under 'imports' at $6.50 a bottle, which is offensively high, but I meant it when I said I wanted to splurge. I have one with dinner, and a second to wash away the bad feeling of spending $30 on two beers and a microwave chicken and mixed vegetables dish.

I can tell when I'm getting stared at because when I try to look out the window at Dyer, Indiana, I mostly see the reflection of the curiously peering face of the woman sitting on the other side of the car with her husband. They're on their way to a wedding---whose, I didn't pick up from their earlier conversation. She smiles with a mix of friendliness and awkwardness when I turn around to look at her directly. We didn't say anything to each other, even if I wanted to.

"Your hair is beautiful!" says an old black lady, her hair also in dreadlocks, tucked up inside a knit cap. "What do you put in it?"

"Nothing now; it's all natural. I waxed it for the first six months," I reply with a smile, rubbing the tips of one of my dreads between my fingers. I want to offer to let her touch them, but she doesn't seem like she would have asked.

"Well, keep it up! I never seen Asian hair in dreads before!"

"Thanks; I didn't know it would work until I tried it."

No one else was in the car; she was the second to last person to leave, and I was the last person to leave.