You sit looking out the window as your train pulls into the station. Some on the platform stand there waiting to board and some stand there waiting to say goodbye wishing it was their train and that they were coming along.
As your train sits in the station another pulls in. You watch the platform people look up at the new arrival and like them find yourself gazing at the other train wishing you were on board. Glancing across the platform you see someone on the other train looking at you. You nod at each other knowing that you both understand.
Above the sink on the wall in the old depot was a neatly painted sign, “Paper towels here tomorrow”.
Why not today? Who took the time to paint the sign? Why didn’t they just get the towels instead of painting a sign? How ridiculous. Funny sign.
As I stood there about to turn on the water I thought about how angry I get when I reach up for a towel and find the dispenser empty. How angry I get that nobody can be bothered to provide towels. How angry I get that nobody can be bothered to fill the dispenser.
I washed my hands and then looked up at the sign as if I had just read it for the first time, “oh, no towels, I’ll come back tomorrow”.
Nothing to see in the darkness outside the train window.
Nothing to see but the lights of a farmhouse moving by in the distance.
Nothing to see but the flash of crossing signals that follows the muffled sound of the horn.
Nothing to see but automobile headlights as the highway creeps in and tries to snuggle close to the right of way.
Nothing to see but the first street light and then a small town that doesn’t have time to show itself off before it dims and fades away.
Nothing to see ahead but the Mars Light sweeping the roadbed and the fields as if it was a red and white cane.
Nothing to see but you watch waiting to see.
The lake is flat at this time of year, at this time of day. Ten to fifteen fishermen stand on the pier waiting. The rods lean against the rail with the agitators dangling over the side and they wait for the first sign and there it is. A gull, now two, now three land on the water about eighty to ninety feet out, now ten, now twenty and the water starts to stir.
The rods are picked up and with a flick the agitators and lures trailing three to five feet behind are sent out toward the birds. As soon as the lures splash the water they are retrieved and hit. One after another the fish are pulled up onto the pier. Into the orange Home Depot pails go the fish or they are tossed onto the pier to flop for a minute before being picked up.
The birds scream, the water churns, the lures are cast and retrieved, the pails are filled, the fish leave, the water goes flat, the birds fly off and the fisherman stand on the pier with the rods leaning up against the rail waiting.
The lake is flat at this time of year, at this time of day.
Family has always been very important to me and I’ve tried to teach my kids that knowing their family history helps them understand who they are and where they came from. Old photo albums, snapshots, and family portraits along with written family history create that link with the past. As I organized pictures and wrote down the family story I started to get concerned that all of my work could be lost if the computer crashed. Not knowing what to do I did some research and decided to go with one of the on-line services that saves computer files “in the clouds” (I went with one of the oldest in the business—“since 2009”).
You can imagine how upset I was when I received an email from Clouds, Inc that they had experienced a technical problem which is called a “glitch” and that my files in sectors 5545A-5648Q had been lost. This is where you’re glad that you went with a well established firm. They said they understood the importance of my files (familypictures/familynarrative/old) and wanted to do everything possible to make things right. Although company policy prohibited them from refunding my money they did invite me to browse their extensive family pictures files (family photos/old) for replacements, “…maybe you will like to take this opportunity to refresh and upgrade your family photo album. You know you’ve always thought it so why not replace those pictures of short, dumpy men with gentlemen who are a little taller, a little better looking? Why not replace the pictures of your frumpy, sour looking female ancestors with prettier ladies with smiles on their faces?” They also invited me to pull two or three upgraded relatives from their Premium collection and have some ancestors that people have actually heard of plus I get to change the family narrative if I upgrade to a Premium Plus account.
What an improvement. How thrilling it will be for my progeny to read the family history knowing they are descended from Joan of Arc, John Hancock, the Wright Brothers and Milton Berle. Now I have a family history and photos that my great great grandchildren will be proud to show off.
Family has always been very important to me.
The depot’s windows still look east.
They still see the freight trains moving east and west over the long bridge.
But it’s been years, decades since anyone has looked out from the waiting room to see their train.
Years and decades since sailors and college kids and families have waited there.
Trains for Chicago, St. Louis, Buffalo and New York
Trains for Erie, Fostoria, Dunkirk and Ft. Wayne.
Trains for business and visits to grandparents and basic training and weddings.
Trains for conventions and troopships and college and funerals. .
It’s been years, decades since anyone has looked out from the waiting room to see their train.
Like an old man scooting forward on the bench to see if his bus is in sight the old station seems to strain to see the next approaching train.
This could be it coming now.
Running a little late tonight.
Having put together my post I was ready to click “publish post”. It was like having built a little model boat and getting ready to shove it off onto the pond to see how it sails.
Click publish post and there she goes. Looks good. Right there at the top of the category, wait, now she’s number two, three, ten, twenty five, seventy six and now she’s so far down the list it’s like she never even existed.
Oh well, maybe someone on the other side of the pond will see her sailing in.