But, all the towns and people seem to fade into a bad dream
And the steel rail still ain’t heard the news
The conductor sings his songs again, the passengers will please refrain
This train got the disappearing railroad blues ~ Steve Goodman
The recent, days ago, Amtrak railroad crash will haunt me, probably throughout the rest of my life. I’ve racked up literally thousands of miles, far more than 10,000, on Amtrak. Each and every second fed my heart and soul with the vivid beauty of the countryside and cities of this country. This deadly crash, with seven people dead and and more than 200 injured, was followed the very next day with an attempt by House Republicans to further cut subsidies for Amtrak. I know from talking to countless Amtrak workers as we rode the rails, me spending money and they earning their living. They all, with no dissenters, expressed dismay at the sometime looming prospect of losing their jobs because of funding cuts. Of course this issue put me in the WTF continuum. I love train travel. There is nothing like it. I’ve ridden on the route where the tragic crash happened, maybe 5-6 times. It gives me chills. The scenery from Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station on into New Jersey was one of my favorites. That crash happened on that stretch. It gives me chills. What if.
One of the strangest things, one of the most haunting things, I’ve ever in my whole life seen was on the Southwest Chief westbound from Chicago to Lamy, New Mexico. It was at the Garden City, Kansas stop where early in the morning you can detrain and get a Coke and candy-coated peanuts, maybe a newspaper, and you can have a smoke if you want. As I stood waiting to step down the metal stairs out onto the station platform the guy in front of me caught my attention. It was partly his outfit but the vibes this guy was emanating were dazzling. I kind of gasped. I reckoned from scoping him out that he was from a wealthy family, traveling on trust fund money, doing the Horace Greeley thing 160 years late – go west young man. Now about that outfit. I mean WTF. The garments and accouterments all appeared to be spanking brand new. The hat was vintage Clint Eastwood from his spaghetti western days. Black. His hair, black. His calf-length wool overcoat, black. Goatskin gloves, black. Backpack, black. Nikes, black. I had a flash of feeling that this guy was some sort of Dark Angel come to scope me out, to make sure that my Lightworker proclivities at the time were not interfering with the grand schemes of the Dark Side. Shivering slightly I noticed an object in a pouch on his black backpack, a paperback book. A fat one too. Aha! The title on the cover was showing in full: The Complete works of Ayn Rand. My shivers shifted into overdrive. Ayn Rand . . . Trains . . The disappearing railroad blues . . . westbound dark stranger . . . infrastructure gone ragged . . . Rand fans in Congress cutting funding to railways . . . that stranger on the train kinda sorta pushed me out of time for a few moments . . . this is it . . . just let go. I got some those peanuts when that guy got out of my way and let me step onto the platform.
“I stepped out on the platform/ the man gave me the news/ He said you must be joking son/ Where did you get those shoes?!” ~ Steely Dan
I dramatized that anecdote only in tone. It really happened to me. This was before the big media and political presence of Ayn Rand began. I have no idea what it means. What does it all mean? Please, someone, tell me. Sheee enough of this silliness. I can hear an adamant magpie out in the yard. It seems he thinks he’s a crow. That’s a waste of his vocabulary, in my opinion. In my totem worldview Magpie speaks of things hidden. Let’s see – how does that relate to my life? I know of one potential area where things moving in the shadows may be looking at me. Let ’em look. I do pretty good out in the shadows too, but I’m not going there today. The past three days have been enough. Maybe I will do the Lightworker thing today. I had a young woman bathe me in Lightworker craft yesterday. She’s a manager at the new convenience store just south of here about four miles. I was purchasing two pints of ale, and maybe I looked a tad dour. It’s been that way lately. She’s somewhere around 30, quite beautiful in a homespun way. I find her to be quite attractive, but I was not looking at her, instead my focus was on the credit card machine. As I looked down she launched into a soliloquy – she was on a mission for the day, said she. She was singlehandedly going to brighten the world by lifting the spirits of folks with sad face, grumpy faces. I didn’t notice at first that she was referring to me. Transaction over, pleasantries achieved, I turned to exit the store but my membership tag for the store’s bonus point program called me back. The young woman was right back there too. I’d won a free item. She was as excited as I was. Boy howdy, free 24 ounce hot coffee or free 44 once fountain drink. She was right back on it. “You can drop by in the morning to see me about that hot coffee, if you want, or if it’s a hot afternoon you can drop in for a cold one. Heck you can use it right now, hon”. Her smile was precious. “But the coupon is only good for 30 days, sweetie. So make sure to use it soon, hon”. I was just turning to head on out when I decided to have one more of her smiles. She’d walked over to the other checkout spot. I was right there. No smiles at first. Our eyes met, then our gazes locked. Soul to soul, and not in a romantic way. She’s half my age. I mean really? Anyway, that mutual timeless gaze was Lightworker stuff. She was very good at it and I’d told her so back when I was involved with the credit card machine. To look, to really look freely into another’s eyes, a stranger’s eyes, is Lightworker stuff. The eyes are the window to the soul, right? Right. In addition to the soul stuff I noted that her eyes quite resembled Anne Hathaway’s eyes. Same level of rich beauty. I took my ale and headed out. As I reached to open the door she called out, “Remember, sweetie, you’ve only got 30 days. Remember to come back, babe”. It was the babe thing that sealed it for me.
Two anecdotes in one morning’s post. I’m impressed. Good on me. I feel pretty good about it. Nuff said for now.
Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.