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This is CHAPTER 18 in our series offering gossip, novel backstory, and personal confessions about TRACKING HAPPINESS: A SOUTHERN CHICKEN ADVENTURE. We’re working our way through a novel here. If you’re just now discovering us, you can jump in now or go back to the first entry and catch up. If you jump in now, I can’t promise you it won’t be confusing, but it might be interesting too.

Ok. Last we left off: The train was leaving Reno, Nevada, when Lucinda’s mother Rita Rae and her boyfriend Clyde walked on board! 

A recurring theme of the book that has nothing to do with chickens is the use of nicknames. Everyone has a different nickname for Lucinda. Nicknames are very Southern. For all I know nicknames are very Northern and Midwestern and Southern Californian too. I grew up with a nickname, but it was my “name,” by which I mean, it was what I went by. So it didn’t seem like a nickname. I always longed for a nickname. That’s greedy, that’s what that is. 

In this chapter, a passenger on the train has a heart attack. This plot point comes from my wondering, what do they do with bodies on the train? And the idea of caskets being shipped on the train, riding along in the back cars while the family rides up front, sniffling in their grief. Do you know the largest number of caskets shipped interstate are shipped out of Florida? That’s because the old people go to Florida to die but then they want to return home to be buried. Most of that happens by plane. If you go to an airlines website, like say Southwest, it shows their guidelines for shipping a casket. It’s really morbid. I’ve put the link to Amtrak’s human remains shipping guidelines in the Notes Section. This podcast is morbid. 

Okay. I think that’s enough preliminary information.

Helpful Train Hint: As long as we’re being morbid: while you are riding the train, vehicles might try to “beat the train.” This has happened to me. If so, the train will “go into emergency mode.” The train will come to a sudden, screeching halt. The air will fill with the smell of something burning. You will think the train is about to explode. Instead, you will wait while the train makes sure it didn’t clip the vehicle. That, of course, is the best case scenario. Please, please, please, for your sake and others: quit trying to beat the damn train.

Now go read Chapter 18 of Tracking Happiness: A Southern Chicken Adventure

Footnotes: shipping dead bodies with Amtrak

Shipping human remains with Amtrak, Tracking Happiness, Tracking Happiness chickens, Tracking Happiness: A Southern Chicken Adventure

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