SIRI

 

 

Witnessed on a trip not too long ago: 

 

Conductor walks by and somewhat cheerfully says:  ‘found another cell phone on an empty seat – if it’s not soon claimed, well then, it’s going all the way down Washington, DC to forever lie in a bin full of other lost phones – ha ha.’

Guy sitting across from me (a professor I think) speaks without looking up: “ask SIRI whose it is”

The conductor, perhaps not accustomed to being addressed, holds it up and smugly says: ‘its locked…’ (dummy).

Professor, now slowly looking up: “doesn’t matter, try: ‘whose iPhone does this belong to?’”

Then, as if suddenly holding a live bird, the conductor nervously hands the phone over to the professor: ‘you do it’ . . . and steps quickly back.
  
Sure enough, SIRI: ‘Michael Kansan’

 

Another conductor now appears out of nowhere and checks his list to confirm . . .
(the level of drama has risen noticeably in the recent seconds) . . .
and exclaims, that Mr. Kansan is getting off at the next stop and is right now standing by the door, two cars back!
  
With urgency and the a nod of:  ’I knew that’, the 1st conductor moves past him with a good deed in hand. 
 

The professor just rolls his eyes towards me and returns to his reading.  

 

 

                                                                           Sent from 🚂 📞 . . .

© All rights reserved 2018

Baggage

 

 

 

 

Just got on the train, folks jockeying for seats in measured and purposeful ways.  Up ahead, a mid-western couple (grandparents I imagine), have completely clogged the aisle with two enormous black carry on bags (she in front & he stuck behind) .

With a nervous glance at the sudden building line of anxious faces behind him, he takes hold of the first trunk in an attempt to heave it high above his head to the racks. 

‘No Ned, no – please your back – the trip …oh please!
    
Impulse urges me to intervene, to push ahead of a the quietly waiting family in front of me and assist but this is a man of great pride, as he never hesitates to look around for help.   He is once again young on a train, with his bride before him.
A characteristic and determination that is instantly admirable.

I hold back.
  
Like a fake prop on stage, he impresses us all by deftly delivering the rear bag topside.   All are now patient as he looks to the next.
  
‘No! please, for Heavens sakes Ned, no you cannot (she pleads) – let me help’

I nudge past the children.
   
Ned quickly bear hugs the second trunk which appears to be bolted to the floor.   I move the three remaining feet to assist.   Seconds later, he somehow already has it to his waist and together we place it on top.
  
He is embarrassed. His eyes have shifted downward to the right in the waiting stillness.    It is then that I hear my voice, and it does not surprise me:

“Well. . . it’s certainly clear whose bag is whose.”

The woman appears slightly offended as I pass by and says:  ‘and what exactly does . . .that mean?’

“I too, am married myself ma’am”.
 

 

Sent from 🚂 📞 . . .

© All rights reserved 2018

The Grin

 

     The heat was oppressive and unyielding and it was five hours past noon.   On the streets, folks ducked into hotel lobbies to suck cool manufactured air deep into their exhausted lungs.   The station however had no such air, just lazy fans fatigued by rising heat, high above in the rafters.   A number of trains had been cancelled due to electrical issues and the elderly occupied most benches, wheezing in wait – a collective, labored exhale.   On the platform few stood but those who could bear the humidity, saw the quickly building thunderheads climbing far above skyscrapers to the West and hoped that relief may soon blow through this suffocating station.   It was now time to board the train which was heading straight into the storm.
 
     As expected, it took longer to get everyone seated but the mood in the car was noticeably better given the intermittent air.   The wind came first and the rain followed just as the doors closed and I suspect some felt cheated, not having been caught out in it.   Across the aisle from me arrive two, he full of energy and wide eyed . . . taking it all in.   She is spent, tired and worn.   She wipes the perspiration from her brow into her dark matted hair and sits while managing a soft smile towards her son, staring intently out the rain lashed window.   I suspect he is ten, maybe twelve and marvel at his fascinated enthusiasm.   She entrust him with their tickets and baggage claim and asks that she may get a little rest. He nods in a manner politely routine, suggesting that this trust has been earned over time.
 
     The conductor is but a shadow as he comes by and is quietly impressed at the young boy’s behaved efficiency.   He gives him some extra stubs, should the boy wish to play with or draw on.   The conductor moves on, following the rattle of the tracks beneath us, down the aisle.   It is then, in the half light of the car that lightning flashes with a fury outside and I see the boy standing in his seat, staring my way with a most mischievous grin and a devious shimmer in his eyes.  

     Before the clap of thunder, he has lifted himself over his sleeping mother and is crawling forward amidst the luggage overhead.   ‘What in the world?’ . . .I want to shout out, reprimand, protect and chase the little monkey down . . .but I am pinned in by an old timer finally sleeping soundly and all around me, it is quiet.   Besides, where can he go?   The bathroom, no, that is the other way – towards the conductor . . . my worry then grows as he drops to the aisle up ahead and opens the adjoining doors to the car.   ‘The cafe car . . .why, that little devil!’.    I recall now, seeing his small hands return the baggage claim . . to his mother’s purse. . .’I’ll be damned’.
 
     Five minutes, ten . . .the next stop is approaching and it is mine . . . my concern grows.   The conductor walks quickly by, towards the cafe . . . ‘game over kid’ – I am thinking.   To my astonishment however, just as the door closes and behind the conductor, the boy darts back into our rail car with a big box of snacks in his left hand.   He calmly walks the aisle like some fancy waiter and maneuvers into his seat, causing not a stir from his mother.  

     The great locomotive has by now punched through the rain and is racing towards a brilliant setting sun.   As far as the eye can see, the soaked land is lush and a bright green.
 
     The boy is licking his fingers and hiding wrappers when I look back next, as the train slows into my station.   I deftly step over the sleeping gentleman and look down towards the mother and her son.   She has awakened and looks up, half expecting me to say something – and I am tempted.   Something like: ’best leash this lad towards NYC ma’am’ . . . but the boy has leaned back and smiled up at me . . . he winks with a wide grin while placing his right forefinger over his chocolate covered teeth and I just smile back, as his secret is now mine too.   I nod to them both as the doors open and bid them ‘a pleasant journey’.
 

 

 

                                                                                Sent from 🚂 📞 . . .

© All rights reserved 2018

The Bottle

Tales From The Rail

Most move with purpose and haste. Others halt briefly to steal glances at their phones, creating congested confusion. The focused however move ahead and instinctively serpentine through the crowded station like ants of a vast army – significant in numbers yet quite invisible at the same time.  The flow and ebb of a winding river, always there and forever repetitious, yet seldom noticed.

He steps from the shadows and into the current flowing out onto the platform. Outside, as the line of waiting passengers builds up before him, he nonchalantly strolls off to the left and stands alone facing the tracks with his back to a large fence.  Behind the fence is an old wooden elevated trailer/office that serves as the station master’s control room.  Within that room, the coordination of all automated track switches and communication with incoming and outgoing trains is solely centralized.  Given this singular choke point…

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STILLNESS

 

All the great hunters that I have been privileged to have spent time with over these many years, share a common thread to their approach and thus to their sporting success. Amidst those cherished times spent together deep in the woods, stalking elusive fowl or gently approaching a slow moving stream populated by a lone sipping trout, it is often in the calm of the quiet that a suggestion is whispered and trust is shared.

 

Sitting then long ago with my ex-army friend, behind a fallen tree beneath the damp cool canopy of the forest, I saw nothing. No birds, no squirrels, no chipmunks…no deer and certainly no turkeys – just small black annoying flies. It was then, after a sip from our canteen, that I was taught and trust was shared.

 

He told me in the calmest whisper, to stay entirely still and just wait, observe. The seconds thus accumulated as I breathed softly through my nose so as not to ingests the flies, looking downrange at the stillness before me.

 

It was like being in a trance, albeit disciplined at first, all senses acutely aware in wait. Suddenly, subtle slight movements in the silence to my left slowly altered the prism to which I viewed …. then again farther down to the right, beyond and near.

 

My focus shifted now with speed and my eyes danced in a subconscious way as the forest floor before us became all alive with moving life. He besides me lay frozen still, rifle raised and zeroed in on the tiny head of a distant Tom . . .yet he never took a shot.

 

I stand this evening in wait of the 5:35, leaning still against the station wall in absent reflection amidst the routine confusion and hustle all around me. I am drawn again to the memory of the woods and the revelation of awareness. Here in this crowded station, it looks conspicuously normal and in the minds eye, accepted and possibly even overlooked.

 

Until it isn’t.

 

On the far side of the platform four officers have convened, a small huddle with muted urgency. The tallest, a slim officer with sandy hair wearing the stripes of a sergeant and a mustache, is directing the hushed conversation. He has pulled out a sheet of paper to share with the other three. One produces his cell phone to take a photo of the paper while the others study and nod. Two reverse and calmly re-enter the station while one walks my direction stealing glances at his photo as he looks about. The tall sergeant repeatedly swivels his head while speaking left into his shouldered radio. His hand covers his lips as he speaks and I cannot read what he says. I think our eyes make contact but he looks on, after only the briefest pause. I remind myself that I am observing a seasoned observer and look away. Two more officers now move up the platform each holding a folded sheet of paper and enter a boarding train. As they walk by, I can just make out the bold letters reversed in the officer’s hand just above a what appears to be a black and white photo: DETNAW.

 

Strolling out onto the platform now, I canvas the entire yard. The tall sergeant’s gaze has followed me as he is now speaks on his cell with his right while listening to the radio in his vacant left ear. I am witnessing a subtle sweep operation in search of a fugitive and none around me even seems to notice – bringing my thoughts abruptly back to the solitude of the woods and its silent parallel.

 

My train now is boarding and an extra officer stands beside the woman checking tickets. Another officer has appeared in the door behind me and walks nearby. I have seen him before and spoken briefly once, when I thought I saw something suspicious. He has a powerful build but a boyish face and an efficient, polite manner about him.  I take the moment to ask: “excuse me sir, do you think it would be helpful to share the picture ? With others . . . the public ?” His alertness is instant and his attention entire. To his hesitation I add: “or perhaps it is too early for that.”   To which he nods and replies: ‘ . . yes, I think it is. . not yet – but thank you.’

 

As he turns right towards the sergeant and I step straight towards my train, my imagination is spinning the possible scenarios being played out here and they shall consume my thoughts the whole journey home.

 

 

 

 

Sent from 📞 🚂. . .

 

© All rights reserved 2019

STRONG EYES

 

 

 

 

In autumn’s silent dawn

I am stirred

awakened

troubled

Troubled with the knowledge of forbiddance

Forbidden ever I am

to awaken you again

 

Rushing silently to the door

in moon’s half light

I have seen you take flight

I have seen you go

 

Only to see you go  

See you go

 

Strong eyes looking to the sky

Strong eyes unwilling to lie

Strong eyes refusing to die

Strong strong eyes

 

Last night we knelt with bended knee

deep in our prayer

you said it had to be

squeezed my hand

said all would be fine

in this vast forgiving  land

 

Tousled my hair

Whispered that all would be kind

and once again fair

 

Only to see you go

see you go

 

In hours since past

I have kept that faith

held onto your given strength

Lord I pray

may it last  

 

Strong eyes looking to the sky

Strong eyes unwilling to lie

Strong eyes refusing to die

Strong strong eyes

 

Beyond the meadow’s shadow

that delivers our pathway

from a deep valley floor

I can wait no more

 

I have run through thick mud

with a spirited glee

Only to see

To see you

once again

 

My heart burns

I saw you go

I have now seen you return

 

Strong eyes

Strong eyes unwilling to lie

Strong eyes refusing to die

Strong strong eyes   

 

Sent from Rail 📞 . . .

 

© All rights reserved 2019

 

 

A CHRISTMAS MOMENT

 

A CHRISTMAS MOMENT        

Each year around the holidays, various brokers who cover us here at work,  send us token gifts or take us out for lunch. These gifts have become far less frequent now that we trade primarily on the computer screen.   This year in fact, only one gift was distributed to each person on our desk.   It was a woolen blanket, rolled up and packaged to be carried like a lunch box.   It looked warm, efficient and convenient, though not terribly necessary for us on the 11th floor of 1251 Ave of Americas, working in short sleeves for one of the largest banks in the world.   A colleague sitting next to me, frowned in disgust and said: ‘what’s this..?’ and chucked it under his desk.   Another behind me laughed and handed it to a junior assistant (most likely feeling magnanimous while actually being condescending).   I said: ‘well… it IS from Mitsui Fudosan, a broker that we DON’T even use, I think I’ll offer it to some homeless person on the way to the train.’
So, shortly thereafter, I set off to catch my train, remembering to grab the blanket. I was quite certain that I would not need to carry it far, for December 22’nd was one of the coldest days yet, of an already bitterly cold month.   Quite to my surprise, after eight city blocks, I had seen NO homeless panhandlers at all. There were plenty of tourists merrily making their way through the cold but conspicuously absent, were the various homeless shapes I had seen walking to work in the pre dawn stillness. Could it actually be that the city officials have them literally swept off the streets at first light, to hide any unpleasantness from our visiting tourists…? Surely the shelters would not be closed at night and just open during the day.   It made no sense and then it made perfect sense and my heart sank.
For a long moment I stood still on that cold sidewalk, oblivious to those trying to get around me with their bags and strollers.   Then, changing directions, I started walking away from Grand Central.   I could always catch the next train, or the one after that.   I went west and south, weaving through the less crowded city blocks. When the shadows began engulfing all but the highest buildings, I started to resign myself to the fact that I might have to place the woolen blanket in a goodwill bin at the station.   Then, around the corner of a non-descript desolate city street, sat an old African American woman with a frayed pink blanket draped over her slouched shoulders.   She sat on an old plastic milk crate and her feet shuffled softly in the cold.   She had no tin rattling for change, no cardboard sign to display her despair, only one arm hugging the other.   So set back from the sidewalk, almost hidden in the darkness, I almost missed seeing her completely.   When I turned and approached with the Fudosan blanket held out to her, she did not immediately notice that I was there.   Then, after what seemed a long moment, she looked up and she saw the blanket.  Her initial bewilderment quickly gave way to a broad smile and she made a sound as soft as a pigeon cooing.   As I began to turn away, she looked up and our eyes met.   I said: ‘Merry Christmas’ and she held my gaze for a long time.   Her large brown eyes were somewhat misty but clear and penetrating.   I read her lips: ‘thank you’.   I smiled, gave her a thumbs up and headed on my way. 
As I strode to the station, now feeling quite good indeed, I could not shake and cannot to this day from my memory, those penetrating eyes.   It was as if I had looked into the eyes of someone I had known all my life.   In those eyes there was a moment of Peace, comfort, understanding, compassion and clarity.
Several days later, on the evening before Christmas, I told my wife and sons this story, and my wife reminded me that Christ often sees us through the eyes of others and we sometimes, can see Christ in theirs.
May God bless all our families throughout each day and may we never forget how fortunate, we truly are.