Tag Archive: trains


There are people of all sorts on trains and today (12-12-15) is no exception. Watching your fellow passengers can be most entertaining as long as they don’t realize you’re watching. Let me explain.

Take today for instance. It’s the second train of the day and people are piling on as if it were the last of the night. Seated before me is a medium-aged senior totally engrossed with the racing form. As it turns out, he’s a regular. He has a discussion with the conductor about another regular racing aficionado who left his gold racing card on the train by accident. The conductor is holding on to it but he hasn’t seen the man in a while. It’s no surprise when the passenger gets off at Arlington Park Race Track.

Then there’s the family who never takes the train but who’s afraid they’ll be bored and so brings every electronic form of entertainment known to man in order to avoid communicating with each other.

There’s a man with his nose stuck in a book and another who squiggles with his stylist on what looks like a Nintendo DS. Perhaps he too is recording what his fellow passengers are doing.

Two women across from me have been talking non-stop since they got on and that’s been nine stations already. There’s no sign that they’ll run out of things to talk about. If I didn’t have earbuds in listening to Frank Sinatra I’d most likely know their life’s stories.

Across from me on my top deck perch is another regular. She’s always worried the conductor will forget to take her money and today is no different. Even after she has her ticket she follows him with her eyes every time he goes by. Maybe she just has a thing for conductors? Still, she does wear a wedding band. I guess a man in uniform is an exception to the rule.

I always come across the group that comes aboard and talks so loud you want to put the old library sign up about being quiet. Likewise I find the vacationer who obviously has never been on a train in their life and brings enough luggage aboard to clothe the whole car. They practically bring a steamer trunk aboard and they wonder where they’ll put it. I wonder too.

Occasionally, and it’s getting more and more rare, you’ll find the dreamer who gazes out the window and actually enjoys the passing scenery. They have that whimsical look in their eye and I sometimes wish I could go where they are. It looks like a nice place.

It used to be that newspapers were king. These days the most popular devise on the train is the cell phone. It has many uses. Such as being a music player. From my own experiences I’ll admit I use it to drown out the cacophony of voices coming from all angles. It’s a camera for those all important selfies to remind us twenty years from now on Facebook where we were, who with and what we looked like. Both of those uses have some validity but there are other devises designed for those purposes. The biggest use for the cell phone is sending text messages to other people and avoiding talking to the people you came with who are seated in front of you. The reality is, why would you talk to someone right in front of you if you can text someone else?

Of course there are surprises. Like the little girl playing tic-tac-toe with Grandma. Funny how that came to pass since it was only fifteen minutes ago that she was busy fighting with her little brother. The conductor needed to break that one up. Strange power that man has. He asked once and the fight was over. Grandma and Grandpa asked and the children were deaf. Does that mean the conductor is a miracle worker who can restore hearing? I guess so.

Depending on how far the passenger has to go and what time of day it is you’ll see some strange commuter sights only found on the train.

This early morning I find a woman putting her makeup on. Her arms are shock absorbers that go up and down as we bump along the rails. She’s a pro who doesn’t smudge her mascara. She’s also a procrastinator or why else would she be doing this on the train?

Of course I have the man sleeping with his head on the window as a pillow. In the winter this sleeping arrangement becomes difficult fast. Since it’s December I wonder if his face is numb to the cold. Mine would be freezing. I touch the window and immediately bring it back. It needs warming.

And you see train passengers come in all forms. They dress in business professional style, sporting gear, casual and even pajamas. They come in large groups, as a couple or a loaner. They need one stop, half or all the way into the city. Work or pleasure is their objective. They either take the train to save money, avoid the hassle of rush-hour and the hell of parking or because it simply is the most convenient. Training is for some an acquired taste, for others a way of life and still others an adventure. It’s not for everyone but it is one of the oldest forms of transportation that continues to bring wonder to many a rider. If you haven’t taken a train before I encourage you to take a ride. It may not be for you or it could be a life changer.

ALL ABOARD!!!

These days there are so many ways to get from point A to point B. We drive, train, fly and boat. Each has it’s advantages but some give benefits not necessity thought of.

If you drive you decide to the second what time you’ll leave, arrive and which routes you’ll use. You can make unplanned stops. You can do as you choose but you must also always be alert. Other drivers don’t drive as well as you do and each of those seconds you’re behind the wheel brings new dangers.

Now, taking the train means living a scheduled life. Miss it and you’re late or you just don’t get to do what you thought you were going to. Once on, the only thing you have to remember is when to get off. You can sleep if you want. You can work, mingle with other riders or look out the window without driving off the tracks. Taking the train is a comedy. These is always something new. Passengers with odd clothing combinations, the smells of a variety of foods and then there are those conversations. Did they really just say that out loud?

Now if you live in Chicago and take the L you have a whole new experience. You pass homes with windows wide open practically butted up to the tracks. The train stops and you hear arguments with the occasional flying pan, TV shows in snippets and most importantly you watch life unfold as families grow up before your eyes one day at a time.

Flying is a little bit like taking the train. Only now it’s impossible to miss your stop. You’ll find some commuters but mostly you will find vacationers. Happiness is in the air (pun not intended but it works) as passengers expectations rise closer and closer to the surface.

Finally there is the boat. Like the plane, some use it often but that’s smaller vessels and not the norm. Vacation is not got going on the boat, the boat is the vacation. Being on a cruise is a 24 hour party. What more could you want?

We Americans love to travel. We’re full of life and we like to get there fast. America, the land of opportunity, the land of dreams, the best nation in the world to travel around and so much to see. Options? Sure, we have them. Plenty of them. Which one is your favorite and why?

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