There was a terrible train accident today on the route I use to get to and from The Big City.
When I arrived at the train station, a garbled voice boomed through the horn speakers mounted on the faux-antique lamp posts. The announcement went something like this:
“Attention all passengers on the Boondocks Central Line: due to an accident near the SmallTownVille station involving a FREIGHT TRAIN, the service on the Boondocks Central Line has been halted. Passengers may wish to find alternate transportation. Repeat, due to a FREIGHT TRAIN accident at a gate crossing near the SmallTownVille station, all service on the Boondocks Central Line has been suspended. There is no estimated time to restore service …”
I almost crapped in my pants. Because Monday was a holiday, I was already down a full day’s pay (no, I don’t get paid for holidays, and the fact that I can’t help it doesn’t mean jack), so I’ve been working an extra couple of hours each day trying to recover some of the loss. Here I am, freaking out. How am I going to get to work? There’s no way I can find “alternate transportation”, and driving my poor ol’ jalopy into The Big City is out of the question. Especially since it’s in need of repair right now.
The parking lot of the station seemed pretty empty. I knew whatever happened, it happened much earlier. Many of the people who normally take the train abandoned the idea before I ever got there. As the thunder clapped above and the world lit beneath the strobe flash of lightning from the low-hanging belly of clouds (a nice touch to the gloomy start to the day, btw), fat raindrops assailed the impervious surfaces around me and died in violent explosions of mist to rush in miniature freshets across the asphalt. I sat in the car and prayed.
When the rain abated enough to go into the station house, I found a large group of older people, most of whom I didn’t recognize. They must be regulars on another train, because they all knew one another. Well, most did. They laughed at a joke I just missed as I sauntered through the door. They spoke about whether they should send someone named Eddie for breakfast, and if things go too long, they could order from a local restaurant to have lunch delivered. My heart sank.
I tried not to eavesdrop as the loudmouthed crew continued griping about the situation. They were upset because of its duration; they stated how usually a crane or similar device is brought down to push the train away. More laughter, more grumbling. The mood of the crowd sobered. The “experts” came out then.
You know the “experts” — they’re the ones who have all the answers, regardless of the topic. You can catch a conversation about cars, and the “experts” will be opining about what’s best, what’s great, what’s crap, all the how-to’s, and talking with great authority about whatever it is, and they’re experts on cars at that time. Or the topic of politics, either national or regional, will arise, and of course they all have solutions for all social ills and problems, and this candidate is best for that reason, or that candidate is best for this reason, etc. Or, maybe the topic is sports. Oh, Lord, sports!! Then the experts come in droves! Everyone with a newspaper subscription knows everything ever knowable about sports! Baseball! Football! Basketball! (Almost never hockey. I find that strange.) The thick upper Midwestern accents, with harsh vowels and nasally twang, rips loud and reverberating over the tiled floors and concrete walls, scratching my nerves like nails on a chalkboard.
The “experts” decided they (and by “they”, the “experts” meant “the transit authorities and/or police — whoever’s in charge, of course”) should just push (I believe “scrape” was the term they bandied) the wreck to the side of the tracks and have done with it. Let the trains run again. Hmph. Indubitably! Without question! The “experts” have consensus, what is left to ask?