Trains are a Mystery

Have you ever stood on the train tracks and looked both ways? Looking ahead, the tracks just disappear in the distance. Looking back, same thing. I remember my surprise when I bent down to touch the steel rail to find that it was warm to the touch, not realizing at first that the sun had warmed it all day.

They say if you put your ear to the track, you'll hear a train coming. That never seemed to work for me. They say that if you put a coin on the rail, the train will come off its tracks. That never worked for me either.

Where do trains come from? Where have they been? Where are they going? The railroad tracks give no clues.

So much about trains are a mystery. And, a loneliness.


  1. Tracks give no clues, sure, but the cars do. Next time you're sitting in the car, waiting for the train to go by so you can drive on to where ever you're going, take some time to look at the graffiti. Who drew it? Why did they draw it? What could've happened in their life to inspire them to draw it, and in the style they chose? How did drawing it affect their lives? What did the workers that deal with that particular car think of it? Did they see it as art, or did they see it as vandalism? Why didn't they wash it off? Hell, think of who made the spray paint, and if they like working at a spray paint factory. Or what their children think of having a parent that makes paint for a living.

    And then you can think of every other person that has seen that particular car go by. When I think about all that, the first thing that comes to mind is "loneliness my ass."

    And stop being so damned destructive. Putting your ear on the tracks to hear a train coming is pretty damned suicidal (it conjures mental images gory enough to match anything Hollywood has done.) And trying to derail trains with pennies? Well, for one, if that works you'll be the one responsible for at least some property damage, not to mention a potential loss of life. Secondly, train big, penny small. Train fight penny, penny loose. Penny go squash. Of course, walking over train tracks for six years, going to and coming from school (2400 times over the tracks to save you some math,) I've tried the penny thing myself, so I know what happens to the penny. It's cool, in my opinion, but... well, it's kinda a federal offense to do that to pennies.

  2. I love to hear trains and often think they are romantic I don't think I have ever associated them with loneliness. I use to go to sleep listening to the trains go by and the whistles blowing..Lovely

    I have often dreamed of being on those trains and going where ever the tracks took me.

  3. Hey Feurix, which is my son, Tim, the center of my last post by the way, I wasn't stupid enough to put my head on the tracks to listen if I knew already that a train was coming! Jeesh, boy! See how it is? Kids always think they're smarter than their parents. Boo. Besides, I did the same amount of trips to and from school walking over those same tracks.

    And, it was the graffiti that made me wonder where that car had been, and I too thought of the rr workers that saw it.

    Interesting: mother and son sharing a similar childhood, with different responses.

    Jude, have you ever heard that song, "Midnight in Montgomery"? I think it's an Alan Jackson song. I played that tune for years, loved it. It is about a train passing the graveyard where Hank Williams is buried. Lonely tune. Haunting.

  4. When I was little trains scared me because of a horrific crash at the end of our road. We heard it one night from almost a mile away. After that, they ceased to be romantic.

  5. Our crossing didn't see car crashes, thankfully. But, when I was a kid, while walking down the tracks, I saw a mess of gore and a dog collar that identified that mess as my dog that had been missing for awhile. There is no winning against a train.

  6. Yeah, Pierre tried to listen for the train. He was run over. I guess he didn't hear it coming. Why didn't he just look?