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I Spend Way Too Much Time On Trains

August 11, 2016

 I travel a lot. San Antonio, Shreveport, Richmond and Louisville are the cities I visit the most. When I schedule my trip, I plan on one day for travel. Occasionally, I’ve squeezed travel in on the end of a work day, but it results in my getting home around 2:00am. I’m getting too old for that. . .stuff. 

But, it’s all airplanes. I have a coworker who hates to fly. Hate is not a strong enough word. His body has a physical reaction when he walks on a plane. If he ever did. Fortunately, he doesn’t travel often. Last month was one of those times where he had to go out of state. He needed to be at a client meeting in Washington DC. It’s about a five hour flight from Salt Lake City. His problem with planes meant that he had to find another solution. 

He took the train. 

It took him three days. He said it wasn’t bad except for a really long tunnel in Colorado. Like really long. It caught him off guard on the way to DC. His issue with planes also affected his comfort level when traveling under tons of rock and dirt. He told me that he almost didn’t make it back. He was so concerned with the tunnel that he considered getting off and driving the last few hundred miles. He made it through by counting the minutes that he was in the tunnel. We all have our coping techniques. 

I’ve recently started riding the mass transit heavy rail train to work. It cuts quite a bit of time off my commute, especially during rush hour. I enjoy it. It’s only about a 30 minute ride, but I’ve always liked the motion and the sound of a train, even a commuter train. 

I have another kind of train in my life. It’s not an actual train, although that’s the way I describe it. It’s the ETW, or Emotional Train Wreck Express. It follows no set schedule. The EWT might be absent for months. Or it might show up at a moment’s notice. 

Everyone has challenges. We all have the demons we need to overcome, the dragons we need to slay. I honestly have no idea if mine are worse or easier than anyone else’s. And some people deal with adversity better than others. Am I good at it? I have no idea. That’s the thing when you are on the EWT, you don’t get to sit in the cab and drive the train. At least I don’t. Instead, I’m stuck in the baggage car. There is a lot of emotional baggage on this train. Getting on is easy. Getting off less so. 

This week the EWT came roaring through my life. This time I knew it was coming. And it still wrecked emotional havoc. A constable showed up at my door with a summons to court. It was a court date that I expected, but the summons was still a surprise. Yesterday was our day in court. I’m not charged with anything. I was in court to talk about people close to me. 

The court date wasn’t even contentious. She needs help and this was simply one step on getting that help. I’ve even been in this courtroom dozens of times over the years with other young people needing help from the state. Yesterday, the judge issued her ruling that we all agreed with in the best interest of the child. We set a follow up court date, as we always do.The lawyers stuffed their yellow notebooks and iPads back into their expensive leather briefcases. 

She walked out of the courtroom to begin the next step in her journey to getting help. 

And the thundering sound of the train rolling through created tiny cracks in my heart. . .again for the first time.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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