Charles and Yidi Outhier, 54 and 47, met on a train in the US before Christmas in 2003. They live in the suburbs of Philadelphia with their pet tortoise
Charles Outhier was travelling from Austin, Texas to Tucson, Arizona to see his grandparents for Christmas at the end of 2003. “I had seen the film The Station Agent, and I thought the idea of taking a train sounded appealing,” he says. “But in San Antonio, the train car I was in had separated and all the passengers continuing on were herded into two cars that would connect with an incoming train.” He spent a miserable night trying to sleep on the crowded train with no air-conditioning and, once the trains connected in the morning, he went to the empty cafe car with sightseeing windows.
He was soon joined by Yidi Shen, who sat down near him. “I had left China to study in Germany, and I was on an exchange programme in Wisconsin,” she says. “I got a train pass to travel the country and wanted to make the most of my opportunity in the US.” She had previously been travelling with friends, but had separated from them in Orlando, Florida, to go west towards California.