Friday, February 4, 2011

Riding The Rails

     With the halls undecked, and the hangover of a pretty challenging year worn off almost completely, I have decided to come out of my cave and write again.  I've missed you guys.  It sure is nice to be back.

     Just before the holidays, I transferred from one department to another at work.  Same rank, different responsibilities, and different hours.  "White man's hours," as the guys from my old night shift refer to them as.  8AM to 4:30PM is the new deal, and I am loving it.

     I drive a truck, a big GMC pickup truck that guzzles gas like a chubby kid on a birthday cake.  So when the opportunity to work these new hours presented itself, "The Boss" came up with the idea that I take the train to work and back instead of driving "The Beast," as my truck has come to be known.  In a word.  Brilliant!  No sitting in some of the worst traffic that Southern California has to offer. No road raging. Reading a book or listening to Pandora Radio through the headphones on my Droid with my eyes closed while someone else is worrying about getting me to my destination?  Sign me up!

     One of my favorite things to do is be the silent observer.  I love to listen to people talk, and one thing that I've noticed over the years of mastering my voyeuristic craft, is that while we are all different, we're all pretty much the same.  From manager to maintenance man, we are all the best at our jobs, and there is no way the place would ever survive without us.  We all fix everyone else's  screw ups, and we all know the best way to do the job.  It's just a matter of time before the rest of the world agrees with us and jumps on board.  Hey, it's not eavesdropping  when someone speaks loud enough for the entire group in the third car to hear them.  For one hour a day, on this train we are in each other's lives and your business becomes my business until I exit at Irvine Station.

     "Ladies and Gentlemen," the conductor's voice calls from the PA system.  "Please keep your personal belongings with you at all times and notify the conductor if you notice anything...........Askew."  He says this every morning and this morning was no different.  Only, this morning there was something "askew."  As I'm stepping off the train at Irvine Station this morning, an African American woman came running out on to the platform from the third car right behind me.  I call her African American, but how do I know she isn't from Jamaica or Haiti or New Zealand originally?  Here nor there.  "Someone forgot they lunch!" she yelled as she waved the red and white cooler in the air above her head.  Above my head too for that matter.  Now, the likelihood that the contents of that cooler were anything other than a turkey on whole wheat, a banana and a cup of Activia was slim to none.  But I couldn't help but think, "Honey, that cooler is the "Askew" that Scott, the conductor has been talking about every morning."  So instead of sticking around to watch that banana explode, I got the hell out of Dodge.  Then I got to thinking (as I always do in any situation)  about food. How, if that were my turkey on whole wheat that the nice lady was swinging around the platform, it would have a nice dijon or brown mustard liberally spread on both slices.  And the Activia would not be an Activia but an orange, because I'm not much of a yogurt eater.  Now you're riding my mind.  It's a bumpy ride sometimes, I know.  A little strange, I'm aware. But it's real and I'm sharing it with you.

     The best part about this whole thing, is that at 6:08PM and not a minute later, I am home with my girls.  Every night we have dinner together.  We share our daily happenings, we laugh, sometimes we're grumpy, but we're together.  I get to kiss them goodnight, at least on the nights that "Short Stack" allows me to.  She's 2 years old tonight and quite the character.  Kisses goodnight or not, I get to be a part of their lives more now than ever before.  So, for as long as I can, I'll continue to ride those rails.  They always seem to bring me home, where I belong and just in time.