To all of y’all complaining about my (GASP) shoes…

and the footprint this photo was really about…

Jennifer M Koskinen


Fall 2019 (pre-pandemic) photo of legroom in a roomette aboard the California Zephyr | by Jennifer Koskinen

I’ve had a low level obsession with trains for most of my life. So it’s not surprising that, though I make my living as a photographer, I’m always honored and all too willing to share when Amtrak wants to use a photo of mine on their feed.

But this time, well, it didn’t go as planned.

I guess I should’ve known. The enthusiastic inhabitants of the interwebs, clearly not having enough things to complain about this summer — this sweltering, forests-on-fire, smoke-filled-skies, politically-explosive, covid-spiking summer when people are even finding ways to berate the greatest gymnast of all time for standing up for her mental health — saw my post and jumped on it like a pack of wild animals on fresh raw meat. I’d unwittingly provided a brand new outlet for righteous rage.

That’s right my shoes, ladies and gentlemen, were the latest source of ire to light up the cesspool of the comment section.

Just when you thought trains were safe. And on the day the Infrastructure Bill passed its first hurdle in the Senate, no less.

Now, when I first saw the outrage I won’t deny my cheeks flushed in rosy embarrassment. My goodness what was I thinking putting my shoes on the seat? Was I raised in a barn? I don’t even wear shoes inside my house for crying out loud. And I shared a picture of this offensive behavior… ON THE INTERNET?!

But then I remembered why I snapped the damning photo and offered it gleefully up to the internet in the first place.

You see, I was having a moment of unadulterated joy in one of my first-ever private roomettes aboard Amtrak. I sat there for a few moments in perfect solitude listening to the click-clack of the tracks and inhaling… simple happiness. After a while, as is our modern tech-driven curse, my brain was hijacked by the impulse to share. I wanted to share the moment, the pleasant experience of stress-free traveling by train. The ample leg room I had in my private rolling nook of zen.

I placed the book I was reading in the composition (amazing book, by the way, some of the most engaging dialogue I’ve read) and stretched out my legs to…