I am getting on Amtrak today to go to Ann Arbor to visit my sister. We’re all in a very long line which twists around the waiting room and out into the hallway and beyond. A tall burly guy in a dark ski cap, gray sleeveless winter vest, and mirrored sunglasses comes by and taps me on the shoulder. He is carrying a cup of coffee and a Christmasy decorated styrofoam container. Pointing toward Gate C he says, “You can go in the front of the line, you know.”
“Yes, you can go up front.”
“Why? What do you mean?”
“Senior citizens can get on the trains first.”
Was my gasp really as loud as I thought it was? I was shocked. But I was also shocked that I was so shocked. It was unsettling. It’s the first time that I have been identified publicly as a senior citizen. He walked away, still gesturing for me to move to the front of the line. I asked the woman in front of me, “So how old do you have to be to be considered a senior citizen with Amtrak?”
“62,” she said.
“Oh, I’m only 60.”
“You can still probably go up front. Who’s going to check?”
I stared at her and her large bag of Christmas gifts.