Where did America go Wrong?

by C. M. Albrecht

Recently I sat down at the computer and booked a trip to Europe. I bought  airline tickets, high-speed train tickets and booked our hotel rooms without a single hitch. Nothing to it.

Today we thought about taking a trip from Sacramento to Portland, a trip of less than 700 miles. We thought about driving, but remembering the train rides we had in Europe, we decided to take the train and rent a car at our destination.

I spent over half an hour going back and forth trying to figure out how get to the place where I could book two round trip Amtrak tickets on their website (the one a retired caboose tender’s son developed in his special ed class). They didn’t know where Portland OR was at first, and I had to go to a list of codes like airlines, lax, cdg, etc. Finally I got past that to the actual booking process.  There is only one train, and it departs at 11.59 P.M. (That sounds much more inviting that midnight, like offering gas for $3.89.9 instead of $3.90).

They could only offer coach seats; no sleeping compartments available (on what they bill as The Starlight — although  the word Starlight does conjure up thoughts of sleeping cars, doesn’t it?).


I go through all the finishing motions and follow all the rules and then up pops a notice telling me that they aren’t able to process my order at this time. I’m supposed to try again at another time.

Like that’s ever going to happen. Where oh where did America go wrong?