Instant messaging. Twitter updates. Tantalizing scandals. Disaster warnings. Public service alerts. When do you need it? Right now!

Here in the midst of Mindset Immediate, I casually offer a statement, the words of which are such an anomaly I would never have conceived that they would come from my lips, let alone during this time-sensitive era.

I took the bus home from Chicago.


Instant messaging. Twitter updates. Tantalizing scandals. Disaster warnings. Public service alerts. When do you need it? Right now!
Here in the midst of Mindset Immediate, I casually offer a statement, the words of which are such an anomaly I would never have conceived that they would come from my lips, let alone during this time-sensitive era.
I took the bus home from Chicago last Sunday.
I didn’t intend to, but the reality is, that I did.
The trip, courtesy of Amtrak’s “see the Midwest” excursion plan, came about as the result of a derailment along the Carl Sandburg’s regular route between the Windy City and the quaint Quincy station. There were no public address system announcements or text messages to let us know of the evolving detour, just the arrival of a bus, a little more than an hour past the train’s scheduled departure. To follow were eight hours of back roads and Main Streets and corn stubble and clustered cows in snowy fields. There was the bus driver’s wrong turn at the intersection of County Curve and Keepgoing Straight, and the passengers’ intervention to get him back on route. The whispered status updates between passengers – learned during station stops and smoke breaks – brought the news that we’d change buses in Galesburg, for the second leg of the trip on to Quincy.
As a regular and devoted Amtrak rider, it was rather interesting to see the other side of each depot – the front doors that face the communities they serve. There were the small towns of Plano and Mendota exhibiting artifacts reflective of their railroad heritage. Princeton has preserved many of its original brick streets, and the bus drove around a decorated Christmas tree in the middle of Kewanee’s main corridor. There were store front beauty shops and law offices, antique stores and banks, all decorated with tinsel and festive lights.
And as interesting as the scenery was, the passengers along on the journey with me were even more intriguing. There was a Columbia College marketing student going home for Christmas, arriving two hours late for a scheduled holiday dinner. There was the union tile layer heading south to help his buddy catch up on holiday installations. A young married couple was traveling to Quincy from Guatemala. The Chicago-based bus driver himself had an interesting tale … that of his intent to return to Chicago that very day to make a second run for passengers scheduled on the evening Illinois Zephyr. There was a 4-year-old who told her mother she didn’t have to go to the bathroom in Galesburg, but who changed her mind well before the Quincy destination. And the comedian at the back of the bus who spontaneously sang out: “The wheels on the bus go round and round ...”
The trip home may have been slow, but the mood was reminiscent of a bygone era when life progressed at a more leisurely pace. I was able to enjoy the scenery and get to know the interesting people around me. The shared visions and ideas served as enrichment, too often lost in today’s Mindset Immediate environment.

Mary Lou Montgomery’s husband, Edward, is retired from the Burlington Northern Railroad - the Amtrak Carl Sandburg’s home route - and she has pass privileges along this route.