Living in a small city is sometimes a very interesting thing. Why, just the other day, I was reminded just how small a place this town is since the hurricane. As I said in my last entry, I had a job interview Friday afternoon... What I didn't say is that the guy that interviewed me is one of my neighbors here in the Point. Not only that, but I actually met the man at the annual "treasures from the point" event, and even remembered thinking about buying an antique Coke machine from him. (I loved it, but would have no place to put it) It still turned out to be an overall good thing, and I think we bonded a bit because of it.
Gotta love this town.
The other way that it came to my attention this week what a small town I live in was while driving to Dizzy's house the other day. Here in the big easy, when it comes to getting across the city in a hurry, you generally have two options... Take the expressway or follow the river. The expressway is a more direct route, but is usually clogged with traffic. River Road is a roundabout way, but usually has no traffic lights. Of the two, River Road is definitely the more pleasant drive, and my route of choice of late.
So I pull onto River Road, looking both ways of course, and so am quite shocked to suddenly see headlights in my rear view mirror and hear air horns bearing down on me. I look in the mirror more closely and see "EF ATNAS" between the headlights of this machine getting ever closer to my rear bumper.
After my mind flipped the words around, it flipped a few more times out of shock. "Santa Fe?" my brain said in a panic, "as in a TRAIN?"
As I say, I travel this road all the time, and had noticed the rail line down the right lane... But I guess I had always thought "abandoned streetcar project", not "active freight line". It was kinda like walking into your backyard and finding an elephant tied to your tree instead of the dog you left there.
Many things passed through my mind at that moment... Like "does he have to stop for the stop sign ahead like I do?", "what if I stop and he doesn't?", and "I wonder if my insurance covers getting hit by a train?". But, surprisingly to me, what also popped through my mind was a lecture my Dad gave me when I was about seven years old.
"Street rail lines are the backbone of commerce in many Midwest towns, Robbie." Dad said as he laid some track on his attic train layout alongside what he had planned to be main street, "In fact, there are some cities that have main freight lines going down the street alongside the cars, busses and what have you."
"But don't people get hit by the trains if they're running down the street?" I asked.
"Sometimes." Dad said, "but fortunately, big cities generally don't have trains running at street level."
"Generally?" I said, worried. (Not for getting hit by a train mind you, but because whenever I got punished as a kid, Dad would usually blame it on the mysterious "General Principle". My Pavlovian response to worry when I hear the word "General" still hits me to this day.)
"Look, if you ever see a train on the street behind you, you should..."
And of course Mom picked exactly that moment to come into the attic and tell Dad that she didn't want him drilling holes in the wall between the rooms to run trains through.
"Crap!", My brain yelled at me as the train bore down on me at the stop sign. I realized that I had no right to share the road with a train, and so pulled over and let the train have the darn thing. I sat roadside watching the train pass when I noticed the song on the radio was Black Sabbath's "Crazy Train".
I laughed for at least five minutes.