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post #21
bio: jen
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7/20/2004
14:07

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People Still Wave at Trains
People still wave at trains. In 2004, people still wave at trains. That's really kind of cool. I was recently on an Amtrak Surfliner between LA and San Diego. Somewhere near Fullerton, I looked out the window and there were the people, waving at the train going by. It looked like a mother and her three kids---all waving at the train. Then, down near Oceanside, as the train crawled up beside the ocean, people stood on the beach and waved at the train.

I don't know why exactly people wave at trains. It's just something you always did like keeping score during a baseball game or playing the alphabet game on long car trips. The train comes. You wave. However, if you're sitting in a car at a railroad crossing, you don't have to wave.

Maybe this train waving goes back to wild west times when a farmer or cowboy wouldn't see anyone else for a long time. When the train came by, it was reassuring. There are other people out in the world. It's all still turning. Here comes the train. I might be alone out here in the wilds, but I'm not too alone.

On the Amtrak Surfliner, I was riding down to San Diego in business class even though I was not on business. For twelve bucks more than coach, you get a complimentary mini bottle of Walnut Crest wine and a snack bag containing one lemon cookie, a bag of tortilla chips, salsa, crackers, cheese, and two little peppermint candies. There's also a coffee maker at one end of the car, a pile of magazines and newspapers, and more leg room than you ever thought possible. Still, for 12 bucks more, I give myself that little extra luxury at the end of a work week. I lay back in my seat and watch the sunset over the Pacific.

So much better than driving down the 5. So much more relaxing. Don't have to think about traffic or lane changing. Don't have to think about anything except meeting the guy at the end of the line, and that brings a smile to my face. No worries. No cares---just don't put the salsa on the lemon cookie.

I think there are still train people in this new millenium world. I think these train people understand the specialness of trains. There is something about a train that's different from an airplane. There's something in the kaclunk kaclunk kaclunk of movement that sends you into sleep land. There's something about a train that makes you want to wave at it.


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