Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Show up each morning at 9am, lube the chains and wheels, set the hydraulic brake system, rev engine until air pressure reaches 120, check / add engine oil and transmission fluid, check emergency brakes and brake pads, check pins under cars, sweep the train, dislodge rocks from switches, lube switches with goopy red grease, dig out railroad crossings, start selling tickets at 10am for 10:15am train, take tickets from smiling happy kids and sunglassed parents, give a short speech abot dos and donts of train travel (Do scream and yell, DONT stand, litter, smoke, etc), drive train and follow certain speeds depending on whether I am rounding a bend, moving in our out of a switch, driving through a tunnel, or passing by groups of screaming unattended children. The track is several miles long and 25 minutes round-trip drive.

On the job, my full attire: untucked train depot shirt, striped conductor cap, no socks, cut-off shorts, hidden smile. During the day, between drives, I read newspapers, philosophy and short stories, listen to NPR and classical music radio, solve crosswords, stare at people and wonder if their children will end up just like their parents; sometimes it's hard to see similarities; sometimes I want the children to turn out better than their folks.

Feelings on the job range between bliss and boredom.

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