1. The Couple Who Should’ve Flown
This couple will feed the stereotype of the old, nagging wife and henpecked husband with such fervor that you’ll feel as if they’re prepping for roles in a new spinoff series of Everybody Loves Raymond. When they realize four hours into the 18-hour ride that they could have already taken a shower and a nap had they flown, the squabbling commences. For the rest of the trip, you’ll be reminded by Marianne just how stupid Frank is.
“I don’t want to sit by the window, Frank. It’s too cold. Don’t be stupid.” Or “I can’t eat peanuts. They’re too salty, Frank. Get me something else.” She’ll even throw in a few renditions of “I hate this stupid train.”
She’ll scoff in the direction of your seat when you pull out a bottle of Seagram’s from your bag.
“Oh, it’s just some whiskey, Marianne.”
“You don’t know that, Frank. It may be dangerous. Don’t be a fool.”
2. The Night Owls
Usually a group of four in their late 30s who haven’t had the opportunity to drink from 6am to midnight since they graduated from Penn State. They can’t seem to grasp the concept that there’s a car specifically designed for people to drink all night, and it’s not the one full of sleeping passengers at two in the morning. Their half-ass whispers are smothered by snickering and “Oh shit! I spilled the vodka.” Bonus points if they spill the vodka on you.
3. The One with the Album
You’ll find The One with the Album in the observation deck at three in the morning with a girl in his lap, trying his best to get you to listen to the heavy metal album that he and a buddy “just dropped.”
He’ll most likely force you to listen to it through ear buds too, so sneaking a conversation with someone else as a diversion will not be possible.
Bonus points if he shows you his detailed illustrations of killer trees eating cows. He’ll say things like “What do you think?” And “I mean, I really want your honest opinion, you know?” Which translates to “Shit’s pretty bomb, huh? Tell me how bomb it is.”
4. The Puker
You’ll inevitably come across that guy who just learned the difficult way that shaky trains and vodka don’t mix. (See also: The Night Owls)
5. The Couple that Just Banged in the Bathroom
While waiting on the only other bathroom that isn’t occupied by The Puker, you see The Bathroom Couple exit. They hold hands and run their fingers through messy hair matted to their foreheads with sweat. No eye contact is made. (See also: The One With the Album)
6. The Seat Couple with Mysteriously Absent Hands
You develop a new-found respect for the Bathroom Couple after sitting next to the Seat Couple. Half the time, they’re bickering about who’s taking up more room. The rest of the time is spent giving discreet* hand jobs under a sleeping bag while watching Orange is the New Black.
(*Not discreet, at all.)
7. The Bored yet Extremely Creative Children
In a melting pot of boredom seasoned with the sights, sounds, smells, and stains of train travel, kids can get desperate to pass the time. And who can blame them? But sometimes you end up sitting next to eight-year-old twins who make a restaurant-fort out of $15 Amtrak blankets that they call, with adoration, “The Meat Grinder.”
Now, when The Meat Grinder goes out of business because they’ve broken their mother’s seat while trying to whip up their world renowned pizza with smelly socks dish, you’ll hear the screams of defeated entrepreneurs for at least an hour. Bonus points if the sour half of the Couple Who Should’ve Flown begins to gripe on top of the screaming.
“God, will they ever shut up? I hope they shut up. Make them shut up. Frank, are you listening to me? Frank?!”
8. The Group that Takes Up the Entire Observation Deck
This could potentially be a group of 30 Amish people playing Go Fish.
9. The People Who Sleep in the Observation Deck
They were just as excited as you when the Amish family got off in Greeley, Colorado. To make up for lost sightseeing, they set up a tent in the observation deck for the remainder of the trip. Their faces are shadowed by sweatshirt hoods, and cords connect tunes of Neil Young from their iPods to their ears. And even though they keep to themselves while their heads bob with the shaking of the train, they’re still taking up that one freakin’ bench seat you’ve been waiting to grab since Omaha.
That being said, be this person at least once during an overnight Amtrak trip. Waking up to a sunrise breaking over the red rocks of Utah or watching the sun sink into the Pacific Coast can be one of the most rewarding aspects of train travel.
Just let others have a seat, too.