The muted sound of clacking wheels goes on and on, fading to a soothing rhythm in my head. I’m on a train headed west.
Riding a train is a bit like stepping back in time. The one I’m on is certainly up-to-date as far as amenities go, but when you ride a train, any train, you step back to a time when people are in less of a hurry. I’ll be on this one for a total of 22 hours – plenty of time to reflect, read a book or make conversation with fellow passengers.
I’ve already met a few characters, and it’s not even supper time. There are the two young ladies who are traveling from the East Coast to seek adventure in the West. Their voices ring with excitement as they tell their plans for the vacation. There is the inactive Marine, loud and braggardly as Marines tend to be, full of war stories and hunting stories and most any stories you’d like to hear. There is the retired railman, knowledgable about the comings and goings, the timing of trains and the tales behind local scenery.
Being unavoidably close to people for this long makes it difficult to avoid familiarity. Some make a point of telling you their life story, like the gentleman a few rows back; others do little more than swap polite formalities. With so much time to kill there is little to do but chat.
It’s an unusual experience, but not an unpleasant one. I find myself wondering what happened to this part of social interaction. Within all of the digital interaction, the likes and shares and viral videos of cats, we seem to lose touch with the inherently human aspect of social. Maybe it’s time we look beyond the statistics to the individual, personal interactions that make memories and change lives.
Have you ever rode the train? I’d love to hear what you thought. Thanks for reading!