“Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thanks for riding the Amtrack Pacific Surfliner with us this fine Friday. I’m Anthony, and let me be the first to extend a cordial invitation to visit this surfliner’s Café, located on the lower level of the northern-most train car. Don’t know which way’s north? That’s the way we’re headed, folks. We have some lovely fine dining options today, throwing back old-school style with some class.
First on our menu is a perfect penne-pesto pasta—say that five times fast!—offered with a side of garlic bread. The pesto is fresh, the pasta is coated in a ever-so-thin layer of gourmet olive oil, grown right here in the Santa Barbara region; the garlic bread is garlic-y. We offer a plethora and variety of sandwiches, served a la carte or as a meal. You may also try our complete care-package meal, a fine way to treat yourself or someone you love. The care-package comes with a crispy Cesar salad complete with crunchy garlic croutons and zesty parmesan cheese. Then you’ll find some fire-roasted salami nestled between a artesian banquette, and then comes our organic—ORGANIC—homemade applesauce. This fine care package also contains a sample of just lovely nuts—that’s right, nuts ladies and gents. For a fine treat this fine Friday, you could try a five-nut brownie, or a fresh fruit bowl… for those watching their figures.”
—Northbound train to Santa Barbara, San-ta Bar-bar-a, final destination Gol-e-ta, Northbound train. Approaching stop Camarillo, Cam-ar-illo, Ladies and Gentlemen. Please take a moment to gather your belongings, make sure you’ve left nothing behind—nothing behind, please, this train isn’t turning around. Next stop Camarillo. Camarillo, next stop—
“We also offer a diverse selection of soda pop and hot coffee, lovely loose leaf teas, cream and sugar. Of course, we have adult beverages. 21 and older, please. It’s five o’clock somewhere!
We also have the classics—hot dogs, pizza. Our four-cheese pepperoni pizza has an exquisite flakey crust, baked to perfection, flecks of golden brown around the edges. We offer a jalapeno cheeseburger, as well—often imitated, never duplicated!
If you’re thinking of having a nice big lunch with one of those giant, multi-national corporations, why don’t you cancel it and head down to the café car on this Amtrak Pacific Surfliner. I’ll be waiting for you with open arms and baked bread. Have a wonderful Friday now. T.G.I.F. That means, thank God it’s Friday! Thank you, and good morning.”
Parking lots, rows of gleaming cars. Junk yards, lines of matte cars, diluted colors, crumpled bumpers, scratched mirrors. Fields of strawberries. Citrus fruits, unripe oranges. Backsides of windows—a slide-by glimpse into homes. A kitchen window cozies up to train tracks, a window-sill decorated with plates and tiles, propped up in steel holders, white and adobe backs. Cars parked in driveways, people walking too slowly. Flooded marshes and puddles, a quiet grey sky. Forecasted rain—those are some nice red boots ma’am, the ticket-collector had said; that’s a nice beret, I said. A fashionable fellow, he was—sunshine peeks through clouds, crashing waves, a surfer paddles, paddles, rides whitewater and falls over. Surfers bob up and down, wet-suits shimmering, until we swing inland. Flickering foliage, muted green, pine needles and mud. Along a garbage-sprinkled street. Bud light boxes, orange peels, and perky cacti. Hang over a precipice, slide back down to sea, over rocks and brown foamy waves on grey and black-glinted boulders. Oil rigs in the water, evenly spaced, calm.
—Final stop, Goleta. Ladies and Gentlemen, if you plan to be heading back with us this afternoon, please note that ALL Southbound trains headed back to Los Angeles and San Diego will be STANDING ROOM ONLY. The calm before the storm right now, please note that ALL SOUTHBOUND trains will be STANDING room ONLY. Goleta, fifteen minutes, final stop, Go-le-ta, fifteen minutes.—
“We will have plenty of food and beverage here in the café car for your way back, no matter how crowded it may be. Please stop down and ask for Anthony. We just so appreciate your business. Have a lovely day.”