So here in this corn town, this little prairie village where the railroad still carries tens upon thousands of tons of corn sweeteners every month; here where poets and novelists, writers of nonfiction,traffickers in translation–where we all meet and scribble; here you can find your way forward on street or sidewalked blocked by parked trains. And not just once in awhile but on a daily basis. Today I was on my way to a doctor appointment and not for the first time when headed to this establishment I found my path blocked by a freight train.
The locals are used to this. They are philosophical about the matter. If you don’t get where you’re going then it wasn’t meant to be.
I’ve stood at the train crossing for up to 40 minutes waiting for the damned train to move but I haven’t had any luck. I imagine as I’m standing there, blind, with a dog, stuck at a railroad crossing beside a parked train that some engineer half a mile up the line sees me standing there and that he feels a sense of power. “Look at that poor slob trying to get to his psychiatrist’s office. Hahahaha!”
The spot where I’m routinely stuck is adjacent to a tattoo parlor and I’ve thought about going in for some body art while waiting for the Rock Island Line to haul its ethanol and whatnot up the line.
But I don’t like pain. No one can assure me that tattoos aren’t painful.
IN the end I always call the shrink’s office and tell them that once again I’m stuck at the north side of the railroad crossing.
The receptionist is familiar with this scenario. Apparently lots of their patients can’t make their “talking cures” because Casey Jones is on his lunch break.
I’ve tried to schedule my appointments at differing times but Casey Jones always seems to know when I’m on my way. Far ahead I can hear the bells and then the deep and resigned klaxon of the locomotive.
Once again Casey will have his cigarette and I will contemplate a tattoo before giving up and turning around and walking back to something, anything more productive.
This is the Zen of a prairie town. People waiting. Things still happening on 19th century time. All commerce or mental health stops because now there’s a train.