Yo-Yo’s Roomies

June 27, 2023

   We had just settled into perfect seats in a nearly empty carriage when they came aboard and slid into seats just behind us. Until then, it had seemed like our last train ride in Europe would be a good one: seats in the direction of train and a quiet ride all the way into Sintra.

    “They” were four loud, obnoxious louts spinning stories of their last evening’s exploits and without a hint of inside voices. I immediately dubbed them Yo-Yo’s Roomies, after the eponymous chapter in Catch-22. Here is a sample of their conversational abilities (and imagine it occurring at a decibel range appropriate for speaking above a tornado bearing down on you. Condensed for matters of taste and sanity.)

   “Dude! Dude!”




   F-bomb. F-bomb

   “Dude! Dude! Dude!”

   F- bomb F-bomb F-bomb!


   I was determined not to be the one to acknowledge the complete disintegration of the social order taking place behind us. It was Carol who once again saved the day with a simple, “Let’s move to another car.” 

“And finally, it was these four Animal House rejects that has now led me to an unfortunate epiphany about rail travel, even in First Class cars: you cannot control who’ll be your seatmates.”

   When we arrived in Sintra, I looked for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse but couldn’t spot them among the mob of tour hucksters hawking their wares. Which was an oddly satisfying mob, comparably speaking. I kept my eyes peeled the whole way into town, both for any sign of the Louts of Lisbon, as well as a couple of empty chairs among the packed cafés we passed. Just at the edge of a main square, I finally spotted an empty table. I hurried along, and pulled back a chair before anyone else could claim It. But who do I see planted like kudzu in the adjoining table? Unbelievable. “They ” were unbelievable. How could they just appear. I scraped the chair back under the table and pivoted to a straight uphill street that originally I had wanted to avoid at all costs here in Sintra. 

Our waitress, Isabella, was a welcome respite from Yo-Yo’s Roomies

   It started with Lady Macbeth helicoptering her two kids on a train to Penzance in 2019, and then watching in horror as she boarded the same train as us returning from Penzance a full week later. ( see: “But I don’t want to be a pirate” and “Train to perdition.“) Then there was the poster-kinder for Valley Girl affectation (“it was super fuhhhn; oh my gahhhd superfuhhhn) at a tapas bar in Barcelona. And finally, it was these four Animal House rejects that has now led me to an unfortunate epiphany about rail travel, even in First Class cars: you cannot control who’ll be your seatmates. (I haven’t even mentioned the farting dog, or all those miscreants carrying on phone conversations, sometimes even with the speaker on for crying out loud!)

Carol’s seafood and rice stew was a hidden gem

   Maybe it seems worse now, post Covid, as people who don’t normally travel are doing so having previously  been pent up in lock down for so long. Maybe God will sort them out in the future. But I don’t think so…

Sintra is a charming town, but not for septuagenerian walking 

   As it turns out, I wrote on this very theme of not having your choice of roommates,  first in 2019 – before Covid when we’d encountered Lady Macbeth and then among a series of boisterous hen parties and finally, a couple of sub-millennial skanks straight out of the bus scene in Planes Trains and Automobiles. The lesson learned is to live and let live when out on the road. To paraphrase a bit: when in Rome, don’t do as Reid does.

  1. Erin says:

    What an artist your are Reid, painting pictures with your words! “…without a hint if inside voices” was perfect.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *