Sweet parable, Hal. It will probably 'bother' me all day in a good way.
> Indifferent Trains
> I was reading Chekhov¹s ³Three Sisters² again
> for the last time when I lost the timetable my travel
> agent had slipped into the envelope holding my ticket.
> Someone said I should ask the conductor to give
> me a new one. I said, ³Hell, who really cares where
> we¹re going or when we¹ll get there?² The train itself
> certainly didn¹t care who I was or where I was going.
> It just kept up its little mantra: Ticket-taker, ticket-taker,
> ticket-taker, ticket-taker, ticket-taker . . . well, you get
> my meaning, don¹tcha, buddy? If pressed to say so,
> I¹d say that the passengers in this car are funny,
> sensual, and poignant. The guy in front of me goes
> so far as to amuse himself by, every ten or fifteen
> minutes, plucking a single strand of hair from the back
> of the head of the woman in front of him, the one who¹s
> been sleeping ever since we pulled out of the station
> in Detroit. Still, a full bladder will often make my visit
> to the lavatory at the rear of the car worthwhile and
> rewarding. Wherever we¹re going we must be running
> along the terminator nowthere¹s sunshine to the right
> and darkness, with looming thunderheads, off to the
> left. Excitement is pitched at a level of intensity that seems
> more like ecstasy than potty-mouthed travel. The miles
> are repetitive, but never really mawkish. The conductor
> is terrific in his well-pressed uniform, stopping to pull
> out of his watch pocket a lidded, round watch just like the one
> my grandfather left to my father and my father passed on
> to mesuperbly crafted. Tickety-tock, tickety-tock,
> tickety-tock. The train, while never for a moment losing
> its momentum, integrates us into landscape after landscape.
> Around the time that dawn breaks on the prairie, some of my
> fellow passengers wake up and begin to converseyou know,
> mundane stuff with bits of confusion and banality mixed in.
> A mother with two kids cuddled up on the seat next to her
> says to one, ³Don¹t be a chatterbox, chatterbox, chatterbox.²
> Across the aisle, two gentlemen in publishing are having
> a little talk about how most trade house editors get their MSS
> from agents now, and how, with the ³whole anthrax thing²
> folks are much less inclined to be reading unsolicited work.
> I make a note of that, and wait to be called for breakfast.
> --Halvard Johnson
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