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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

VIA Butler Class Service

As mentioned, I'd found an Air FU Canada agent, and dealt with the fact that I wouldn't be on the last flight to Flusherville, all business, just the facts - just after I asked if she knew my cousin from Regina.

I made my way to Union Station and partook of the Via business class lounge, which was surprisingly empty for an early evening train leaving Toronto.

After stashing as many apples and cans of Clamato as would fit in my carry-on backpack, I made my way down to the departures level and joined the long line of trainees waiting to board.

(See what I did there?)

One of the staff made their way along the snaking line of stinking rail-bound humanity, checking tickets, and making sure shoes were tied and the like.

When she scanned my ticket, one eyebrow lifted. This was because she had tilted her head sideways, but no matter.

"Commander Flusher! There you are - come with me please," and with that, she turned on her heel and walked away. The way she accomplished this was to lift her right leg high in the air, and lift the toes on her left foot, leaving the heel as a fulcrum. A series of flapping movements with her rather heavy-set arms, accompanied by grunts and wheezes, caused enough inertia for her to spin bit by bit on her heel.

It was... dare I say - majestic.

She took me past all the other people in line to the foot of some stairs that lead up to the tracks. I was handed off from staff member to staff member, one at the top of the stairs, and another one at each of the seven rail cars, before I got to the very first car. This one was the one I was to board.

I did so, stashed my suitcase, and searched for my seat, carefully comparing my ticket information to the somewhat complex seat numbering system used aboard such rolling stock.

"Am I 13A, B, or C..." I muttered to myself. "A, I think - and there it is."

And I settled in, happy to be on the final leg of my long, long journey.

It was nice and quiet in the business class car, I'd hardly seen anyone else board. And before too long, with a little jerk and squeak, the train began to move.

And that's when I realized the truth. I'd been duped. I was a guinea pig, a microbe in a test tube, a crash test dummy... for Via's experimental Butler Class.

The butler - let's call him Guy - came by and greeted me. He asked if I was comfortable handling the emergency exit duties.

I asked Guy for a bourbon rocks.

Because I was the only eligible passenger, Guy insisted on showing me all the tricks of the trainwreck escape trade - the little hammer with which to break the window, the shoving motion one should use when pushing the shattered glass outward, or for corralling disobedient five year olds running up and down the aisle, should that come to pass. Not that it would. This was Butler Class, after all.

Then we moved on to "how to operate a door".

"You press dis button 'ere."

"I've got it. Press the button."

"Flip dis switch, pull le levairr down, push that button on the floor to open the stairway."

I repeated it all back and added, "...while sipping my bourbon rocks."

We chatted a bit and noted that I had the car to myself. I could sit wherever I wanted. Even the table chair if I wanted. I did.

Standing in the vestibule by the luggage rack, which was crammed full with my luggage - i.e. one piece - he went over the drinks menu.

No bourbon, so I settled for a plain vodka rocks, which arrived forthwith. And boy was it sparse. But welcome. It had 3/4 ounce of vodka, and four slivers of ice. The whole highball was a lowball and occupied only the bottom quarter of the glass.

I knew Guy could do better, he just needed a little help.

I sipped my vodka and relaxed for a moment, and then got blogging. It was nice to have some uninterrupted time to write some incredibly entertaining content. When that got erased due to a technical glitch, I pumped out the usual filler.

The table seat in Butler Class.
Guy meandered by with the menu and started burbling away. I know this sounds like a stereotype, but he really did have a very thick Quebecois accent, and with my hearing issues (I have none, due to some unfortunate speaker placements as a youth on top of substandard genetics in the aural sects), it went something like this.

Pointing at the menu, which was jiggling wildly in his hand, Guy mentioned a chicken dish in a mercy sauce with little bits of fluff, or I could have a bourgy sauce something or other with beef and salad du railbed.

I asked for the beef and he said it wasn't beef, it was chicken. Chicken in mercy sauce or the other one was chicken a la beef bourgy la la la.

Good God. This was failing.

"The first one sounds terrific! I'll have that."

"The chicken cymbals on the rail sauce bed of bourgy and patty solids?"

I smiled and nodded and wondered what I'd end up with.

"It's fresh every day, it take twenty-five minute to heat."

"That's perfect Guy, thanks. In the meantime," I picked up my now empty cocktail glass, "another with these, but this time fill the glass to the top with ice. Then fill it again. With the vodka."

I typed away and Guy returned quickly with my drink. He'd nailed it.

I thanked him, and he mentioned that dinner would now be 22 minutes away. And did I need anything else?

No, I didn't. I was happy as a clamato.

Nevertheless, a minute later I looked up to see Guy standing rather close by with a few packets of nibblies to have with my drink. They're actually pretty tasty.

Before too long, dinner arrived. It was the chicken in bourgy railsauce and was delicious. The tray (along with everything else on the table) tended to wander around like a Ouija planchette. As long as it didn't point to GOODBYE I was happy.

Note the proper drink, upper right
Guy offered wine and this and that and I decided to forego all that stuff and just enjoy dinner.

Guy left.

Guy came back, bearing... a spoon. Resting shinily on a bed of white linen napkin. He duly placed the spoon assembly on the table and asked if I needed anything else.

I did not. Crikey, Guy! And why did he bring me a spoon? Did I need it for hurling potatoes around the perfectly turned out Butler Class Cabin???

It was only when the spoon Ouijaed onto the floor that I looked down and saw... two spoons. The original spoon from my dinner had done it's GOODBYE act earlier, apparently. And now spoon number two was with its brother in Davy Jones' Spoon Locker, aka the bespoke Butler Class carpet.

Quickly, I gathered them up, lest Guy see that I need a third spoon and more unwanted attention.

After dinner, Guy came and removed my tray, offering coffee and tea, or maybe a cognac or something.

"I'm really fine, that was great. Thank you. I really don't need another thing. Done. Finit. Perfect."

He looked at me, his ears drooping slightly. Was that lower lip pouting a bit?

Oh Guy.

"Well... I could use some water," I said, giving just an inch.

Guy's face became sunshine and he skipped all the way down the car to the secret galley where such things are stored. Within 30 seconds, Guy returned with a tray, and a water glass, and a napkin, and some nibblies. And a menu.

"This is the spirits menu - in case you want to peruse and 'ave a cognac or cointreau or..." said Guy, trailing off.

"Fine. Cognac. I'll have a cognac."

When Guy returned, he had a cognac. And some napkins. And something else. Oooh chocolate!

You know what? The cognac was great. It's been so long since I had anything like that - I'd forgotten how flavorful a good pour can be. The chocolate didn't suck, either.

I finished up, rebuffed Guy four more times, and finally, Flusherville Station was announced. I packed up my gear and chatted with Guy and mentioned I was coming from Vegas.

He perked again, as if I'd asked him to bring me something. Guy loves Vegas. He stays at the Borgysaucemont and Waynne/Encore and the Flumontreau.

The train lurched to a halt and there I was, home again. I winked at Guy and carried my bags off the train, to end my first ride in Butler Class.

I was thrilled to note that I'd arrived well before my ditched Air FU Canada flight. I'd actually outsmarted them!

Mrs. Flusher had left the Toyota Tercel running, with the keys in it - standard procedure, as we want someone to steal the thing so we can claim insurance. We greeted, had a quick pash, and then headed for home, where the final accounting spin waited.

One more post to go!


    1. Flusher: Are you there? Still planning on doing the "final accounting" for this trip? I certainly would like to see it!

      1. It's coming, as soon as I get over my PVD. (Post Vegas Depression)

    2. Hi, RF- Do you plan to visit "Happy Place" between Luxor and Mandalay Bay next time?

      1. I would have to say that I currently have no such plan. I will walk by it though and peer inside, who knows, I could be impulsive.


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