If you follow me on twitter, earlier this week I was rather bitter about being disqualified from Amtrak’s contest for no apparent reason. I’ve debated posting about this for a few days, but considering I am still a bit bitter, I will. And from this point forward, I will forget about it. For the record, if they were to give me a reason why every entry I submitted was rejected, maybe I’d be ok. It is the refusal to do so, or even to acknowledge me, that irks me. They should have just said, “our legal team said your idea was not feasible,” or, “your idea is too similar to another entrants,” (it isn’t), maybe, “your submitted image was too good, entrants using photoshop and voodoo are not permitted”, or even, “my neighbor’s daughter has entered this contest, and your idea is better than hers, so I don’t want you in the running.”

What was the contest, you ask? Incredibly lame. They couldn’t come up with what the contest should be, so therefore they decided that the contest would be for you to come up with what the contest should be. Did I want to win the contest? Of course, I wouldn’t have entered if I hadn’t. The top prize was a $3500 credit for Amtrak. And I knew exactly the first thing I would spend it on: my grandmother. She hasn’t been in the best health this year, culminating in open-heart surgery about a month or so ago. For the past few years she has wanted to go visit her 95 year-old sister-in-law (the jokes about in-laws do not apply here, they are practically best friends) in Florida. The catch is, she refuses to fly, and she doesn’t have the money to take the train. Of course, a one way Amtrak ticket is more expensive than a round-trip flight. I can remember my first Amtrak trip was with her, going down to Florida. I know that she really wants to go, but she doesn’t talk about it much because she simply doesn’t have the money to do it. But when she was in the hospital, I told her I would pay her way down to Florida when she was better, whatever method she wanted: a flight, Greyhound, or Amtrak. Had I won the contest, I would have at least been able to pay for a nice sleeper car for her, which considering the coach prices are already quite high, sleeper expenses are probably through the roof.

Nonetheless, I will be forgetting about this contest, now that I will be posting what my entry was… The entry you will not see on Amtrak’s site. If you do happen to read it, I invite you to tell me what part is plagiarized, lewd, or inappropriate, which violate the rules of the contest.

Photoshop and Voo-doo: Against the rules.

Title: Rail Pass Blogging Adventure

Description: Across the country, more and more people are creating blogs online and posting their photography and videos. My idea would be to use the power of the blogosphere to create the ultimate Amtrak rail adventure, and give viewers ideas of all the things across our nation that you can see by rail. Each entrant would create their own web site, blog, or social networking account to post their dream itinerary for a 30 day rail adventure. Possible subjects to include why they enjoy rail travel, previous trips on Amtrak, and their train photography. The bulk of the entry would be detailing their trip itinerary if they were to win a 30 day rail pass: what trains they would take, what cities they’d visit, and what activities they are interested in. At the end of the contest, the winner will get a rail pass to take the trip they suggested: and if they choose, update the blog they created detailing their journey.

Prize: A 30 day Amtrak rail pass, so the winner can actually take the trip that they proposed, and a digital camera to document the journey.

Why we should pick you: My idea is a great marketing opportunity: people can get ideas for their own trips, and follow along with the winner if they choose to continue posting to their blog while on their adventure. Instead of looking for a person skilled in a particular area (photo contest), truly anyone could enter and get the chance to live their dream. I personally write a blog about trains, and think it would be incredibly fun to do exactly what I suggested – my dream is to travel the country and world by rail.

5 Responses

  1. AJ says:

    Emily, I love your contest entry. Why Amtrak wouldn’t accept it is beyond my comprehension. I understand why you are upset. It doesn’t make sense.

  2. Al Cyone says:

    I was going to suggest you enlist the support of an intrepid investigative reporter, then thought I’d better find out the details of the contest in question. Failing that, I came across an article in the NY Times about another Amtrak contest and the travails of a would-be contestant. Perhaps you’ve seen it:


    So if you can manage to get yourself arrested you’ll end up with more than enough money to take your grandmother to Florida.

    • Emily says:

      Haha, that is pretty great. I had heard of the event, but the bottom part, talking about a student getting arrested for taking photos at every subway station sort of freaks me out.

      Anyways, I’m sure Amtrak will love more people talking crap about them. Thinking about it though, maybe that is why they are so deathly afraid of people posting on blogs about them. I don’t really think it would be worth it for me to do anything further, it isn’t like they’re going to put my entry back in the contest. Though if their goal is censorship, I’d be happy to take down my post, provided they buy my grandmother a train ticket, hah.

  3. Joe says:


    It is all rather easy to see how you violated the contest. Let me explain it all to you.


    You used the word “rail” on your picture. You don’t own a railroad and
    they do, thus you have plagiarized the word “rail” from them.


    You bet this picture is lewd ! That mountain on the right side is
    very reminiscent of a young female breast and the other breast is
    seductively covered by the map of the United States. This is so erotic. How could you expect to sneak this kind of thing past them ?


    Totally ! You train is going though Georgia isn’t it ? AH HA ! It is
    taking the same path as General Sherman in the Civil War ! Don’t you
    remember Sherman’s March to the Sea from high school history class ?
    You have offended Southerners. And where is the map of Alaska huh ? I
    bet they would be frosted not to see their state on your picture !

    OK enough silliness on my part. ! Obviously, you don’t believe any of
    the above and neither do I.

    Your idea and picture were wonderful. The contest must be rigged to
    not see the merit of your idea and picture.

    Amtrack has put the CON in contest that’s all ! You have a right to be bitter !

    Your intentions to help your grandmother are good. I commend you for them.

    I hope this cheers you up a bit !

    Take care,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *