Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Entire Train stopped. Just for me. They gave me juice. They said "God bless you" they left.

I was sitting by the train tracks today reading. As I sat mind wandering from the Paradiso, Bob Dylan playing deep inside my ears about a tambourine man, two AmTrak passenger trains whizzed by me and I watched with pleasure as their massive bodies blurred by and shook the earth beneath them. I put a penny on the track, read for an hour to see it get crushed and was about to leave, giving up hope of the next train. Just then a leviathan BNSF train came lumbering down the tracks, slowly laboriously. Its great face neared my watching post beneath a shrubby palm tree and rather than passing me by, it stopped. The whole train stopped, right next to me. I wondered if I was about to get told that the train tracks were no place for me and to pack up my bags and leave. As a suntanned, dirty, engineer placed a heavy boot out the front entrance of the train I stood and looked anxiously at him. But his face was kind and rather than shooing me away he asked me if I was okay, warned me of the dangers of the train tracks, and asked if I needed water. I quickly assured him that I was fine and in need of nothing. He nodded and jumped back up on the train and disappeared into the hulk of the engine. I stood there a little awkwardly expecting the train to begin to chug away but before it did, the man reappeared holding a juice pack. I couldn't help but smile as he tossed it to me and said "God bless you, have a good day!" I called after him in reciprocation but I think the train swallowed it in the roar of dynamos and motors. He vanished into the massive face once more and finally the train pulled away. Slowly but surely. I watched in awe as the huge body rumbled past me, slowly, so much slower than the passenger trains. The loads of pipes, oil, and coal rolled smoothly over the tracks which bent under the incredible weight of the cars. I had wondered moments before how the train nails were loosened from their tight fastenings on the steel rails but now, as I saw the rails bending as if they would break and the nails being lifted ever so slightly out of their sockets, my wondering was satiated. Instead I could not now conceive how the tracks which had seemed so heavy and thick before did not now snap like toothpicks under their incredible burden. As the final car of the monster passed me, I stood dazed for a moment in sheer awe of the size of that industrial creature. I lived next to a train my whole life, but they will always continue to amaze me.

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