Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4

Trip Diary Day 1:

Welp, I guess I’m committed to this.

Going to WrestleMania has always been a dream of mine. Many of you might not have guessed this due to the usual aura of coolness I put off in my columns (making “New Gods” analogies and comparing Paul Heyman to Vizzini from The Princess Bride is considered cool, right?) but in reality I’m a standard nerd. I like goofy shit that makes all the other adults in my life go “Aren’t you a little old for that” on the reg. It used to be annoying, but these days it’s just generally accepted that in my personal circles Andrew =29-year-old man child, and still being so into wrestling to the point that I’ve created a tiny name for myself blogging about it is one of those things that make people think I’m queer.

So when I was telling everyone that I was going on a trip alone from Pittsburgh to Secaucus to watch a bunch of adults do pro-graps in the cold, well, the reaction was pretty much what you’d expect.

I never really had any doubts myself. My wife decided that she wanted to eliminate one of my bucket list items (right above “Go to Ireland” and right below “Talk Natalie Portman into a 3-way”) so she did everything possible to make sure I made the trek to Jersey. Because despite how much I like to think I’m open to new experiences, in reality I’m a dude that’s pretty set in his ways and doesn’t like to deviate from the norm. WrestleMania was always something I enjoyed from the comfort of my couch, and unless she had taken the initiative to get me out here, I probably wouldn’t have made a go at this.

But, I’m not totally against new experiences. When I travel my preferred mode of transport has always been flying. I love airports, so much so that I’ll volunteer to pick people up from them. I’m kind of a creepy people watcher, and airports are ideal for interesting interactions. I once watched a guy plead and cry and beg his girlfriend not to go home for Christmas because he felt the time apart would literally kill him. He no shit squirted hissy-fit tears all over Pittsburgh International. He was causing such a scene that security approached and asked him to take his emo breakdown outside. If you were there that day and happened to see those events transpire for yourself, I was the dude sitting directly behind them eating a bag of M&M’s, watching the whole mess unfold.

But, this time I decided on something different. Instead of taking a costly flight, I was going to take a form of transportation that I’ve always avoided: the train. Specifically, the 42 from Pittsburgh to Newark. And let me tell you, holy shit was that ever a bad idea.

April 4, 2013 4:45 AM

I arrived at the Amtrak in Pittsburgh thanks to my friend Duda who is either nice enough to wake up at 4 AM to drive a doofus to the train station, or a complete sucker. The first thing I noticed about the train station was how dirty it was. You can say a lot of things about most airports, but usually you don’t feel like you’re entering the inside of a dirty boot.

My train wasn’t boarding for another 2 hours, so I parked myself next to the only outlet the station seemed to have, and started guzzling about a quart of shitty vending machine coffee. Along with being set in my ways, I’m also kind of paranoid, and the idea of sleeping on a train while strangers rooted through my personal belongings is enough to do everything possible to avoid slumber. It might be silly to assume everyone I come in contact with is just waiting for an opportunity to f**king rob me, but I’d rather have my wallet then a train buddy who will probably just talk my ear off about his Netflix instant que or his bone marrow operation or something equally boring and sad.

Another thing you should know about me is that while I’m generally pretty friendly to strangers it’s all bullshit. I might nod my head and seem to be receptive to your small talk, but in reality I just want you to shut your mouth so I can go back to watching “Legends of Korra” on my Kindle.

Anyway, I’ve learned in my experiences with travel that if you have headphones on, people will generally leave you alone unless they have a pressing question, or are just assholes. And if they’re bothering you while you’re wearing headphones, then you don’t have to be nice and patronizing to them because they’re jerks who deserve your scorn.

Anyway, my station waiting was pretty uneventful, except for the people watching. People at airports don’t realize how good they have it. Sure it’s cramped and loud and everyone wants to stab the person next to them, but it’s generally accepted that most airport passengers are pretty harmless. But train people are different. Train people are the folks that are either A) Too poor or cheap to afford air travel B) Too weird to be allowed on airplanes C) People on the no-fly list for reasons D) College kids that want to “experience America” as if hanging out in the dining car for the free Wi-Fi the whole way is what they meant by “experience” or E) Too dangerous and scary. I didn’t realize that when I booked my trip that the train station is essentially the human equivalent for the Island of Misfit Toys.

In my 2 hours waiting for my train I saw the following characters:

-Native American Bill, who I know was Native American because he wore a hat that said “Native” and had about 30 feathers attached. I also knew his name was Bill because he had it embroidered on his shirt just in case someone wanted to know his name and ethnicity for some reason.

- Legless man on an engineless mini-bike.

- A deaf gentleman that walked around asking everyone if they had a cellphone charger, and when they’d respond he’d point at his ears and scream “I’M DEAF” until they either screamed back “I DON’T HAVE A CHARGER” like that f**king helps or gave him what he wanted.

- The Suede Cowboy; a gentleman decked out completely in a suede outfit and a bright white Stetson.

- Professor Rad; a man who wore a tweed jacket, sweater over a collared shirt, bright neon green shoes and matching belt, and was rocking aviators while it was still dark outside. He also looked like he was about a thousand years old. He was the raddest of them all.

- Annoyed mom and her stupid son Jeremy who kept rolling his toy cars at my feet and laughed when they hit my foot.

- Loud snoring guy that reeked of smoke and kept asking to borrow a dollar from me.

Luckily for me all of these people were in my train car and super lucky for me, the smelliest one sat in the seat right next to mine, even though there were several open seats available.

8:30 AM

I spent the majority of the morning setting up my command center in my corner of the train and trying to subtly get the Smoking Snorer to bail out on our seating arrangement. Even one of the conductors came over and told him that there were several empty seats where he (and by default, I) would be more comfortable. He’d just mumble and snore and I’d grip my multi-tool with the dull blade a little tighter.

Eventually I got hungry and headed to the dining car for some nourishment, but once I realized it was just a shitty diner on wheels I decided the bag of peanut M&M’s I bought from the vending machine at the station would have to last me for the next 7 hours.

Main train ride was mostly uneventful. It consisted of-

-Watching this guy snore/swear in his sleep

-Watching “Community”

- Reading

-Watching more “Community”

- Slowly feeling my nostrils fill up with mucus because this is my WrestleMania weekend and it wouldn’t be complete without getting sick as a dog.

4:30 PM

I finally arrived in Newark NJ, took another train to Secaucus, and then took a cab to my hotel. I don’t like to be Mr. Stereotype but I was convinced that the Zero Darky Thirty group didn’t kill Osama Bin Laden and instead he was driving a cab in Secaucus, NJ. After I paid him the fare for not murdering me and getting me to my destination, I went upstairs and met my party.

-Josh, the warrior (and also a proper nerd, meaning I can discuss the importance of Chew and Blankets in the medium of graphic novels and not have to explain what the hell a graphic novel is)

-Pete, the cleric, and the dude that got us the roof over our heads

-Katie, the magician

- And (former) TJR writer Jacob Lindsey, the redshirt AKA Jacob the Expendable 

After getting a shower (because I was RIPE) and taking as many anti-cold drugs as I could, we headed downstairs to get food, but made a quick stop to get booze because these cats don’t f**k around when it comes to happy hour. Having zero food in my stomach and some cold medicine running through my system, alcohol was probably the worst thing I could’ve put in my body at the time, but I decided I’m on vacation, and if I die I hope Jacob scatters Panda porn around my body so that at least in death I’d keep people guessing.

Nom nom nom nom nom nom nom...

6:30-ish PM

Eventually we made our way to a nearby restaurant and consumed mass quantities of the sushi buffet. It was $20, which is a price tag that would normally make me say “NOPE” and then march over to the nearest grocery store to buy Ramen. But, I once again decided that I’m on vacation and if I wanted to spend a Jackson on a raw fish gorging. At this point I was running on 3 hours of sleep, whiskey, and sushi. Upon leaving the restaurant I attempted to move a door that just wasn’t going to go anywhere, and ended up looking like an asshole. This wouldn’t be a big deal, if it didn’t happen again like 30 seconds later at the coffee joint I stumbled into. This prompted Jacob to make the following Facebook comment...

After that Pete took his leave of us to go to his hotel in Times Square, which sounds cooler than it actually is. It’s bright, noisy, and low flying planes send you into a panic. Jacob and Josh decided they needed more alcohol, so they went off on their own adventure to find a shady liquor store. In the meantime Katie and I took that opportunity to become super friends, load me with cold medicine, and talk about our personal lives, our mutual love of inappropriate humor, and cats. Katie really digs cats.

9:10 PM

Upon the boys return from the liquor store (which I assume was an adventure in itself. Josh looked like he just arrived from post-apocalyptic Australia and Jacob had a full beard and whispered “I did terrible things” over and over) we played “Cards Against Humanity”, which is like “Apples To Apples” for sociopaths. Playing this game for a few hours created several jokes that would be referenced for the next several hours, which included “tiny crappy hands,” “big black dicks,” and “Radiohead’s next album.” I guess you had to be there.

Tomorrow we’re hitting Manhattan and doing touristy stuff and try to find out where wrestlers are resting their heads, which will either be a fantastic time or end tragically in my death. It’s a toss-up really.


Twitter: @TheAEJohnson

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