My Train Obsession.
Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved trains. I have many times sat in my parents car as a child waiting for the train to pass by so we could get across the road and get on with our errands. My dad always had a way of making that wait seem not quite so long by telling us to count the cars and see how many there were all together. We made a game out of it to see who could count the most and not lose track. We would get ready, excited to be the one who got the number right, as the train approached…
And, of course, we waved at the conductor who was ALWAYS smiling and happy to see us. Train conductors are so friendly, have you ever noticed that?
Then the cars would start to go by and the counting would start!
I loved looking at all the different types of cars and all the different colors.
I liked watching the wheels go so fast along the tracks.
Sometimes, if I watched too closely, I would get dizzy.
After a while, it seemed like this train was just going to go on and on. Good thing I knew how to count past 100!
I would sometimes wonder if there were any hobos that had jumped on the train as it was going by. And where were they on their way to next? I watched a lot of T.V. back then and the hobos were always hitching a ride to somewhere, stowed away on an opened car, in almost every train movie I saw. Maybe there was one on this train…
I really liked it when cars would go by with brightly colored paint on them. I thought it was so cool. I knew it was vandalism (though I may not have known that word yet), but the artist in me thought it was great that someone was brave enough to take a chance of getting caught doing something like that just so they could “color” on the trains. And, secretly, even though my dad said it was wrong to do that, I was glad they did because it broke up the monotony of too many cars going by that looked the same.
Finally, the end would come. What? No caboose?! Yes, sometimes, they would end the same way they had begun…
Everyone would tell my dad the number of cars they had counted, including the engine and the caboose, and my dad would compare it to the number he had counted and announce the winner. I loved it when I got my number to match his. My sisters and brother (my youngest brother hadn’t been born yet) would all tease and make a fuss, or holler with glee–depending on whether their numbers were right or wrong. It was a fun game and a good way to pass the time waiting for the train to go by.
There are a lot of trains that run through the city where I live, and I have spent numerous times trying to dodge their path so as not to get held up on my way to work or running errands. But I really don’t mind that much if I do get held up, because I think back to all the times I counted the cars as a kid and the fun I had with my family doing the little things like that while we were together.
As I grew up, I always loved the sound of the train the best–even more than counting the cars. We lived a few blocks from some train tracks and I would awaken many nights to the sound of the train in the not-so-far distance. It never made me scared or annoyed. In fact, it’s always had the opposite effect. It comforted me. I still can hear the train at nights when I’m in bed and ready for sleep. I’ll listen for it as long as I can, hearing it rumble off into the night far away. And whenever I’ve traveled anywhere out of town, when I hear a train in the distance, I feel like I’m not that far from home after all, and I find peace.