All Aboard!

Railroad Crossing

There are three different ways to look at the picture below if you are on the scene.

Train crossing a busy road.

First, you might just be passing by and noticing the train. Maybe, like me, you might get closer to photograph it or simply get a better look. You might wonder where the train is ultimately headed and why all the people are on it. What will they do when they arrive at their destinations? Are some of them on their way home?

If you are in one of those stopped cars waiting for the train to pass, you may be wondering how long before you can be on your way again. You might be upset because of the delay. Or you may just enjoy watching the train go by.

The people on the train may be preparing to get off, and thinking about how to best retrieve any luggage they brought. If they aren’t getting off,  they may be wondering how long it will take to get to the next stop. Those on the way to meet a significant other may be daydreaming about their reunion. A person on the way to a funeral  may be grieving a loss and wondering how to comfort the family. Some may be on the way to a vacation spot and be planning how they will make the most of the time they have there.

Boarding and Getting off the Train

Once the people on that train go the two more blocks to the station, they may be getting off. Others will be boarding. Those  boarding will be anticipating their destinations. Some may even be praying they will get there safely. I had a friend who got on the Amtrak train to commute home from work as he did every day. They had to carry him out of the wreckage with 23 others who never made it home.

Boarding the Amtrak Train in Paso Robles

Do you ride the train very often? Do you have any memorable moments involving trains?


What do you think?

10 Points


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  1. Balkan Dawn 1978

    1978. I board the train in Trieste, Italy. We approach the border with Tito’s Yugoslavia – the Iron Curtain – in the dead of night. The train whines to a halt in no-man’s land. One ragged peasant appears, suddenly transformed in a smart grey uniform; his bearing newly authoritative, he enters the small compartment and points to me. Two colourfully dressed women open my rucksack and stuff several pairs of denim jeans inside. The other passengers look pointedly away. The uniformed man signals me to keep silent, indicating the alternative by drawing a finger across his throat. Some time later, the Border Police approach along the corridor. I feign sleep but my heart is thumping so much, it seems to be shaking the window. The first passenger is slow to open his bag and receives a hard slap across the face. As the police examine each one’s papers, he must open his luggage for them.

    flitting from bloom to bloom
    a bee neglects
    the richest nectar

    Several kilometres down the line, the women retrieve the jeans from my bag and the train stops with a screech in the middle of nowhere. In the half-light I can make out figures carrying huge sacks racing across the fields, police in pursuit.

    band of gypsies
    music falls silent
    in the Balkan dawn


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