Train Stories

by Ray Reuter on July 2, 2010

Twice a year for the past several years I have taken the train from Kansas City to Galesburg, Illinois – going there in the morning, meeting with my client in the afternoon, and returning that same evening.  While I would not choose to do this very often, I do love the nostalgia and reminiscence.  As I write this, sitting across the table from me are two little Amish girls.  To my left a young couple is playing a game with their daughter.  People behind me are playing cards.  The sun is setting on green corn fields.  In a few minutes we will cross the mighty Mississippi at Fort Madison, Iowa, and a bit later cross the Missouri River.  (I’m trying to forget that we are running 90 minutes behind schedule!)

Trust me, the train attracts a very diverse crowd.  This train – the Southwest Chief – starts in Chicago and will end up in Los Angeles.  Some of the people who got on the train with me have 20+ hours ahead of them until their destination (I have about 4.5 hours plus – the only thing predictable about a train is that it will lose time).  As I observe the people and listen to them, I always wonder to myself – what is their story?  How did they come to be on this train at this time in their life?  I imagine where they are coming from and where they are going.  I muse on the possible circumstances leading up to this moment.

And then I begin to reflect on what they think about me – probably wondering what is my story?!  Who is this guy staking out the table and working on his computer?  What’s up with him?!

In a world of planes and highways and timelines and schedules … it is good to take the train now and then, and embrace the story of life rather than the speed of life.

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