Loose Pictures and Reflections from Recent Years
Some Quotes by Dag Hammarskjöld

Trespasser Strike

image from www.mercurynews.com

I was returning from a conference at night last year on an Amtrak train.

Without warning the train came to a standstill about 15 miles from our destination station.

"We have had a trespasser strike," the conductor announced.

It is interesting how we word things.

Words can frame our thinking, smooth over the rough edges of reality, and divert our sympathies while dulling our revulsion to the mental vision of unspeakable tragedy.

We stopped on the edge of Fresno in lock down mode for about 2 hours.

Some poor soul apparently was hit by a train up ahead. The curious euphemism for it seemed to calm the sensibilities of the passengers but did not interject universal patience. They were being inconvenienced while the "proper authorities" investigated and scraped up the remnants of a shattered and splattered life.

Watching the various reactions and responses of my train mates was as curious as the nomenclature.

I got a cup of coffee. had things to do. I was sad for the tragedy, but I have lived too many days and seen too many horrible things to be swept away by the stress inside the train.

I went about my work and then, I needed to stretch. So I walked the isles talking with whoever would talk.

I came upon an elderly lady who had a positive countenance that emanated from her and infected those around her.

"What shall we do?"

"We could sing."

"What shall we sing?"

It does not matter who said what. I do not remember. I only know that this is how the conversation progressed until she suggested,  "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat," and I started - boisterously enthusiastically. I think her seat mate joined in. No one else did.

We smiled and laughed and I moved on.

Finally, the train moved on as well.

At the station, I waited  for my wonderful, tired, patient wife who had been alerted to come later than she had planned. By now it was midnight.

It  had been a great conference followed by lots of travel time to process.

I reflected in my notes that one thing will help your patience level when traveling: Drop your expectations of arriving on time. Build in leeway. You will be late part of the time.

I commented for the world to see on social media, "Chill, dudes and dudetes. The young man reading Vonnegut across the isle from me did."

I did too, this time.

Someone had died that night. The rest of us were simply inconvenienced.

Someone had seen in happen while running the train and could not avoid it.

We simply had to wait.

We are all trespassing in this world and we ask the owner of all the forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

While we wait for whatever is next and whenever it will be, we make the best of the time.

That's what I remember, one year, and three tweets later.



From earlier in the trip: