Drunks puking on the train & unashamed adopted women…REALLY!!!

im gonna need to reassess

by Kenneth Justice

~ “Are you kidding me, we’ve only been on the train for five minutes!” she said

Yesterday morning I boarded a train bound for Chicago on this weekend’s leg of my Drinking in the Culture Tour. There were few people on board and the first hour of my 6 hour trip was delightful; free WiFi offered by the train service, the opportunity to get a lot of reading done (did you know that the Governor of Mecca outlawed coffeehouses in the year 1511?) and a row of seats all to myself….but then, the drunks got on board. 

When I originally booked my Chicago trip earlier in the year, I had no clue that I would be coming on St. Patrick’s Day; and if you’ve never seen how crazy people can get on the Irish holiday then just swing by the Windy City for a few hours and you’ll see drinking like you’ve never seen it before. The four women and four men who boarded the train sloshed had been drinking since the night before; this party for them was an all weekend event and they were ready to get down.

I felt bad for the young woman seated in front of me, she couldn’t of been any older than seventeen, and after a half hour of a drunk guy towering over (the revelers were standing for most of the train trip so they could walk back-and-forth among their seats) she couldn’t take it anymore and hauled down her massive piece of luggage and high-tailed it out of our train car and into one presumably far away down the line.

Less than 10 minutes after the party goers boarded, one of the women in their group couldn’t take the motion of the train (I guess straight up Jack Daniels and train travel didn’t mix very well with her) and she quickly leaped up to dash toward the bathroom; she didn’t make it. Fortunately, a fellow passenger had enough sense to force a motion-sickness-bag into her hands; and the woman proceeded to puke right in front of us.

After about forty five minutes of listening to the St. Patty’s Day people talk LOUDLY about “vagina’s” and “penises” (but they used the other terms for our anatomy; the words that make Nun’s blush) I’d made up my mind that the teen girl had the right idea; it was time for me to change train cars. But it was in the moment of putting my laptop away that the stranger sitting silently next to me finally opened her mouth.

She was of Asian descent and had been sitting next to me for more than an hour, and when I greeted her initially as she sat down, she politely said hello but conveyed an “I don’t want to get into a conversation with strangers on a train” look, so I had made sure to leave her alone. However, it turns out that heavily intoxicated St. Patrick’s Day revelers can break down the icy cold demeanor of even the most private train traveler; somewhere between the drunk woman puking in front of us and another drunk guy trying to force my row-mate to eat beer chips (she refused repeatedly) the young Asian woman now desperately wanted to talk to me and find a safe person to cling to in case the drunks got even more rowdy (they were really only a couple steps away from grabbing at body parts that didn’t belong to them).

The young woman was born in South Korea and adopted by a couple from the Mid West when she was a year old, “Its always been so strange for me because my friends growing up would repeatedly ask me if I was ashamed for being adopted from a Korean orphanage and being taken away from the country of my birth” she said “But for the life of me it never made sense why people would ask me that because I’m glad that I was adopted. My parents are the ones who raised me ‘and I’ve never considered for a moment that my ‘real’ mom is the one who gave birth to me; not at all! My real mom is the one who changed my diapers, and who held me when I cried, who comforted me when I was sad, and who has shown me more love than I could ever imagine” she said

Now in her early thirties, the young woman and her parents visited South Korea a couple years ago to see the culture that she was born in, “I didn’t go there to try and find the birth mother, no not at all. My parents had booked a trip for us to Hawaii and asked me if I wanted to spend a week in South Korea as well so I said ‘sure’. It was really interesting seeing Seoul and experiencing Asian society but my home will always be near my family and I wouldn’t ever want to move away from the Mid West”

Talking with the woman it was undeniable how much she loved her family. Her grandfather was/is an Anglican priest (her mother is originally from London, England) and they are a very religious family. She talked to me at length about traditions and how much she enjoyed liturgies of her church tradition and she rattled off the history of her family as though she wasn’t adopted into it; but rather as if she was a full blooded family member. But that’s really the truth isn’t it; when we are adopted, we’re not meant to feel like an outsider….we’re meant to feel as though we are part of the family.

I’m not saying that people are wrong for wanting to find their birth parents; I simply can’t relate to it or understand it because I know who my parents are and I love them so much” she said.

Today I’m in Chicago and I’ll be at Filter Cafe and then The Gallery Cafe, if you’re looking for a cup of coffee and a conversation you should swing by! I’d love to have coffee with you.

Kenneth



Categories: Culture & Society

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53 replies

  1. Very interested, Have a wonderful day friend 🙂

  2. Adoption is a different experience. Our daughter is adopted, and she does not enquire after her birth parents

  3. your first sentenced knocked me down, and the rest of your tale finished me off! your perspective always keeps me laughing! the woman you spoke with was really quite blessed, as i’ve had the poor luck of being born into a huge ‘pack’ whom i’ve recently decided to permanently sever the bond of dna and ruthlessly declare myself an ‘Orphan’. sometimes it’s just better that way, i guess….. although, i still give THEM one final caveat and that is that THEY taught me who i NEVER want to BE.
    keep writing- you amuse me immensely!

    sincerely becoming your biggest fan~
    ‘Almost~Alice’

    • Violet, I TOTALLY know what your talking about when it comes to putting up boundaries with relatives. Sometimes its the best thing to do to keep our sanity.

      Thanks so much for the comments :0)

  4. When I was 17 I traveled on trains, buses and planes by myself a lot. I got very good and sensing who was safe to sit next to. Often drunks and men would bother me. Young people who travel need people to watch out for them. For those that run into a scene like Kenneth’s, with out of control behavior, do what you can to comfort fellow passangers.

  5. From your tour list it says Gallery then Filter, I’m slightly confused and don’t want to drive into the city for naught…930am @ Gallery?

    • Npvitkus, so sorry! The times on the site got switched at the VERY last minute 😦 I ended up being at Filter care from 8 am – 2:30 pm today! The conversations went REALLY long! The owner of Filter emailed me and asked me to switch the time to AM because Filter apparently gets really busy in the afternoon and because I’ve been traveling I wasn’t able to switch the times on the website and am just now logging online for the first time today. Sorry for any confusion

  6. Sounds like the train ride from hell. I’ve been on that train somewhere else, I think. I don’t plan to ride it again.

    Adoption is a very good thing. I have two nephews who are adopted and now are brothers.

  7. What a sharp contrast. I’m glad that the young woman was there for you as a focus as much as you were for her. On another note, I think men who are willing to protect women in public are heroes.

  8. My interest in finding my mother was purely to have the correct info. When I was young and ask my dad about her, he was always vague and it left a mystery connected to her…a mystery I wanted to solve.

    In my late teens, I did a brief search. My sister and I both decided if we found her and she didn’t want to see us we were fine, if she wanted to see us…that would be okay too. My sister bought a kit to “find missing people” which we never did use.

    One day, not too long ago, I sat my dad down and made him tell all…just so I could add her side to the genealogy picture. He did and I kind of felt bad because I could see that this was a sad period in his life…a time where he had failed, so to speak. I decided not to ask about it again.

    Several months later, I confirmed my suspensions that a death record, was my birth mother’s…I had also found I had two living uncles. They are a little spooked about their “troubled” sister’s child suddenly appearing in their life…expecting that I may want something from them. I see there concern and have decided to respect their privacy by not telling my sisters or dad of their existence. If they ever show signs of wanting to connect…I am sure they would be welcome.

    In the end, nothing’s really changed…I just don’t have they mystery anymore…and I like that part.

  9. Assuming that what you actually mean is that you’ll be at Gallery and then Filter (as it says on the tour page), then we’ll see you at Filter at 2. 🙂

  10. St.Patrick’s Day here (I’m in Milwaukee) is what Cinco de Mayo is to Los Angeles. So plan accordingly if you’re headed to LA. lol

    I’m not a religious expert but I seriously doubt that St.Patrick was in charge of the Pub Crawl. However, I do find it interesting how a religious celebration has turned into something completely devoid of any religious teaching. How on Earth do people justify such behavior? A rhetorical question of course as there is no justification, or maybe I’m just getting old.

  11. I think sometime the adoption children are wondering why they were put up for adoption. We have a entire 60 minute show about it. And all those now adults, most of the time want to find the parents because they became parents themselves.

    Other than that green beer for everyone and a patty on the patties hehe.

  12. Family isn’t always blood. It’s people in your life that want you in theirs and except you for who you are. I always felt bad for adapted kids though, I could never replace mothers love.
    What a 6 hrs train ride you had.. Lol
    Drunk people??? No comment!

  13. Our extreme ideals. I’m pretty sure that puking has already turned into a “great story” about a legendary St. Pat’s day trip. We really have no respect for each other these days, have we?

  14. “When I originally booked my Chicago trip earlier in the year, I had no clue that I would be coming on St. Patrick’s Day” duh

  15. I found out young that whenever St.Patrick’s Day falls anywhere near or on a weekend it becomes an extended excuse to party unabashedly for many young adults and lovers of drinking. It has been the bane of my birthday (3/17) and the reason I refused to step foot in a bar to celebrate being of legal drinking age till I was 24 and that was the one and only time I ever did. It’s a shame people will drink to such excess that they are no longer in control of their actions. I often wonder what they are trying to escape from. I wish you an interesting day at the coffee houses and thank you for sharing the woman’s story about her appreciation, love and absolute contentment with her adopted family. More often than not people who are adopted, even into super loving and supportive families, still feel like they’re missing something or that they are lacking something. It’s good to hear about someone who wasn’t going to let the circumstances of their birth detract from the wonderful life they were raised into. Hearing about extended families that also welcome with open arms adopted children always gives me hope that there can be situations where one person doesn’t have to ruin things for others.

    • Happy birthday in advance. One of my younger sisters (#2) has a birthday on St. Patty’s and I need to remember to send out an e-card today or tomorrow (so it will be on time)– thank you for the reminder.

      I don’t drink– I don’t think she does, much. *shrug* Mostly I just like to have the Irish-American interpretation of the New England boiled dinner– corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes.

    • Sounds like a great plan to me!

  16. I’ve experienced a flight sitting beside a young girl who was puking for much of the flight. Not a fun experience! I feel you there! … and that was actually on my way home from South Korea!

  17. Enjoy Chicago!
    We adopted my baby brother from Korea, and he was my brother, not my adopted brother. Pretty much the only time we even remembered he looked different from us was when someone pointed it out, asked questions, etc. He passed less than a year ago from heart issues, but I remember sitting with him at a doctors office and they were asking about family history and he said that there wasn’t any and I was like “Yes, we have XX and XY and YZ” and he looked at me and goes “Kate, I’m adopted.”
    He was just my brother! 🙂

    • “pretty much the only time we even remembered he looked different from us was when someone pointed it out..”

      Dude, I totally LOVE that sentence! So beautiful 🙂

  18. I usually get a sleeper car on trains if possible. More privacy. I’m sure the party makers will go home and tell of the “great and glorious” time they had and maybe about a few party poopers who didn’t want to “have a little fun”.
    We have two adopted sons. When I was working in the embassy in Rabat, Morocco, we adopted two babies, now our sons. When they were older we asked them if they wanted to visit their birth country. They both said without hesitation, no, they were happy being who they were, our sons. Both have excellent jobs and are a joy to have as sons. We have 8 other children and all are a joy. The last one is still at home the rest have done very well in life. We visit often and love each other. Adoption is just a word. Love is a reality. For those who didn’t have a good family hang in there and be a good friend, great mom or day and do for someone else what was never done for you. I did.

    • Yea, I’ve never gotten a sleeper car, sounds pretty cool and romantic if you ask me; right out of an old black and white film. Wow two adopted sons! That is awesome, thinking about the young woman I met yesterday it dawned on me that there really isn’t much discussion that occurs in the public forum over adopting children. It something that people just assume takes place, but I wonder if its something that we as a society encourage or discourage. I really don’t know because its not a subject I’ve thought about very much.

  19. Your story gave me a lift. We have an adopted son. And he’s a blessing too.

  20. Sorry we missed you, but with traffic being as bad as it was, and no confirmation that what was posted here was an actual change rather than an accidental misstatement…

    Well, the food was good. And my wife and I had a nice little chat about which of the random people hanging around the coffee shop _might_ have been you. But it turns out you left right around when we arrived, so none of them were. Oh well.

    • I’m SO sorry. I was so ridiculously busy; I got to my first coffee shop early in the morning (I was up at 4:30 in the morning yesterday) and I wasn’t able to turn my lap top on until about 4 pm because the conversations were really good and never ending!

  21. “My parents are the ones who raised me ‘and I’ve never considered for a moment that my ‘real’ mom is the one who gave birth to me; not at all! My real mom is the one who changed my diapers, and who held me when I cried, who comforted me when I was sad, and who has shown me more love than I could ever imagine”

    That is exactly how I think it is. I said pretty much the same in my post about blood relatives being irrelevant.

  22. That train ride sounds like it was really fun for no one except the drunkards. Yay St. Patrick’s Day! Your adopted seat-mate sounds like she was a breath of fresh air. Too bad not literally – I’m sure it would have been super helpful after Princess Barfsalot sullied the space : )

    • I wish I could of drank with them Molly, but I know my stomach well enough that drinking on a moving train and I would of been right alongside that puking girl 😉

  23. Your post is always fantastic. I didn’t adopted, but i took care of some niece and some nephew, they are closer with me than their parents

  24. lol you always have the most interesting stories Kenneth. So glad I found this blog by chance. I suppose wanting to understand someone else’s thinking is just human nature. Curiosity is also but it can come off rude to say the least. I remember someone asking me once “what’s it like to be short?” Um…what’s it like to be stupid? lol. I couldn’t figure out why being short meant my life was so drastically different than his. Oh well, whatever. I can see why people would want to know why she doesn’t do what most people would but ultimately, it shouldn’t matter. Hopefully the rest of your trip won’t be quite that crazy. I wouldn’t be surprised if the trip home included hungover folks LOL. That would suck as much. Hope that doesn’t happen. Have fun!

    • Not one hangover person on the train ride back! Ha ha, too funny. I came back sunday and since St. Patrick’s day is technically this morning (Monday) maybe they are all still in Chicago drinking 😉

    • Well the luck of Irish was with you Kenneth lol (okay maybe not but still had to say it.) I was hanging in Vegas yesterday and oh the ridiculousness of it all lol and yet it was so fun seeing grown men in green tutus and other green apparel. I really wish my camera battery hadn’t died. *sigh* Oh well. It was a fun day. Hope you had fun on your adventure! 🙂 *despite the drunken madness

    • Ha ha, maybe so Jen…. sounds like Vegas was a blast. Ya, know of all the places I’ve gone in my life I’ve never actually gone to Vegas; weird I know.

    • Vegas was fun lol. It usually is but still. It’s a different sort of place for sure. My recommendation to you is if you ever do go, keep it to two-three days, four at most. It gets to be too surreal after that, unless you tend to leave the strip behind for a few days and get a dose of reality. The Strip is fun but it’s so filled with tourists, certain freedoms you don’t encounter anywhere else (such as people only wearing bathing suits everywhere, taking your drink in and out of establishments all over, etc) – the “fake” can get too overwhelming after a bit so yeah keep the visit short lol; but it’s a lot of fun if done right. 🙂

  25. What a time to be in Chicago…like our camping trip with young children at Mt Rushmore and not taking into consideration that it was Sturgis Motorcycle Rally week. Great story! Glad your time among shameless revelers was redeemed by such a loving portrayal of contentment and family belonging.

  26. First verse that comes to mind after reading this post is

    And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
    (1 Corinthians 6:11)

    Nice post Kenneth!

  27. My wife and I adopted ten children. Some of them know about their birth parents, some have no idea. I think you’ve exactly captured the essence of “real” parents. Great story.

  28. Love your story. Drunks and puking on train – very bad; chat with random stranger about something unique and personal to them – fascinating and really cool. Blood is most definitely not thicker than water. 🙂

  29. Fantastic story, I laughed so much! I shared it with one of my design tutors, his commuting stories are also incredible. You know what they say, you learn from mistakes! 😀

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