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small hotel—and I'm the only employee!” That's just about right,
too. The attendant was doorman, receptionist, bellhop, cleaner,
server, and concierge all rolled into one. Spend 48 hours watch-
ing a good one in action, and you'll have a real appreciation of
what a demanding job it is.
A sleeping-car attendant reports for duty about three hours
prior to the train's departure. He makes sure every room is in
order and has towels, face cloths, soap, a route guide and time-
table, bottled water, and anything else that's supposed to be there.
He cleans mirrors, removes any dirty linen, stocks and cleans the
restrooms, and looks for anything that may not be in working
order. (If a toilet doesn't function properly, now is the time to find
out and get it fixed!) He also checks to be sure all bedding has
been made up ahead of time and is neatly stored in the upper
berths. Most of the time everything's shipshape, but not always—
in those cases, he'll have to make it right by himself. Even if he
does find everything in order, there's a whole lot of bed making in
the life of a sleeping-car attendant. When a passenger is ready to
retire for the evening, the berth has to be lowered into position
and arranged for sleeping, and on two-night trips, it must be made
up again the next day. Often there is as much as a 50-percent turn-
over on a 48-hour trip, meaning half of the bedrooms could be
occupied by different individuals on successive nights. The first
passenger may ride overnight from Chicago to Denver with the
second traveler boarding in Salt Lake City for the trip from there
to Oakland. The attendant must pull off the old sheets and
remake the bed before the new arrival, ready for a good night's
sleep, boards. There's even more bed making to do on turnaround
trips. The California Zephyr, for instance, originates in Chicago
and is turned around in Emeryville for the return trip. The car
attendant makes up all the beds in the car for the train's trip back
to Chicago the next day. In a Superliner sleeper booked to capac-
ity, that's a total of 44 beds.
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