Saturday, October 1, 2016

Story Time: The Train Ride

At fifteen years old, living in Georgia, I got my drivers license. Not a permit. An actual license! And then, a few weeks later, we moved back to Ohio.

Prior to that, we were in Ohio for six months and prior to that, we hopscotched around the Tampa, Florida area for a year or so. My mother and stepfather jumped around a lot.

But now, I was back in Ohio and carrying a full blown drivers license that I quickly learned was useless to me. Ohio was not going to honor my Georgia license. Ohio sucks. (No, really, Ohio sucks.) Stupid Ohio.

I turned sixteen just weeks after we moved back to the buckeye state. I was told that I had to take Drivers Ed in high school if I wanted to turn my learners permit into a drivers license, so I did. But before the new school season started, my August 5th birthday was going to be one to remember for the rest of my life.

It was a Saturday when I asked my mother for a little favor. "Drop me off in town so I could go and buy a couple of record albums." This really sucked because I had my own truck. I just couldn't drive it. Yet.

We lived out on Charleston Pike in Chillicothe, Ohio. About five miles back into the woods. Our backyard ended at the railroad tracks.

My mother gave me a ride, and informed me to give her a call if I needed a ride home. I hated the thought but it wasn't her fault. (Stupid Ohio.)

After buying two albums, both being Dr. Hook albums, I began to head towards a payphone to drop my dime when suddenly, I heard the whistle of the train. It said, "Carroll, hello. How are you?"

I took a peek. It had stopped on the tracks. It wasn't moving. It was about 300 yards away across a field. I got myself a good idea. Well, it was good at the time.

"Carroll, come ride me." It beckoned.

If I could get to that train before it starts rolling again, I whispered to myself, I bet I could hop on and ride it right past our house, and I could get off there. Everyone would wonder how I got home so fast.

Like I said, it sounded like a good idea at the time.

So I bypassed the payphone and scampered across the field, toting a bag with two record albums in it, and I headed to the stalled train.

By the time I got up on it, it had started to roll a little bit. I grabbed a step bar on one of the cars and stood up on it. The train was rolling at about 3-5 miles an hour.

I rode it for about two or three miles before I realized it was picking up speed. I kept asking myself, should I try and get off now or wait? Maybe it will slow down again. I was still about five miles away before it would roll past my backyard. Maybe it would slow down again by then, I thought.

I thought wrong.

There was nothing I could do. My backyard and house was nothing but a blur when the train went zooming by. I had climed up a few more steps on the ladder I was clinging to and sat down on the edge of the front end of the train car and sighed. "This is bad." I quipped. "This is real bad."

Oh well, nothing I could now. I was in this thing for the long haul.

As night began to creep in, the train rolled into a town. I had no idea where I was at. It slowed down enough at one point that I could jump off, and so I did.

I walked around for a half dozen blocks before coming to a diner. I walked in and ordered a platter and then went to their payphone and made the dreadful call. My mother was freaking out. Angry? That's an understatement, but still freaking out. "Where are you?" She asked me.

I had to ask the waitress. "You're in Richmond, honey." She told me. "Richmond, Virginia."

Yeah, and I had to repeat that to my mother. I could hear my stepfather cussing up a storm in the background.

Lucky for me this diner was a 24 hour diner and so I just waited there for about six hours - or so, before my parents showed up.

My mother stood there with her arms crossed and giving me that look. "Of all the the messes you have gotten yourself into growing up, this one takes the cake."

Blah, blah, blah. That's what I heard. We ate breakfast before heading back home. Most of the questions on the ride back was about how it felt riding a train like that for such a long distance. I had to be honest with them. "It was kind of cool." I said. "I'm really looking forward to listening to my new albums." (They were both pretty good, as I would find out later, then again, I was a Dr. Hook fan.)

"Then maybe this will be cool, too," my mother announced, "you're grounded."

"For how long?" I asked her.

"How does the age of fifty sound?"

Stupid Ohio.




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