Posted by: Rob | November 21, 2007


Why does it seem that the urgency with which one is attempting to get somewhere is directly proportional to the probability that one’s way will be blocked by a train at a grade crossing? Today, for instance, I was on my way home at lunch and, having been delayed in a meeting, was a little later than usual. Sure enough, I had to waste more minutes that I didn’t really have while a freight train made its lumbering way across the only road I could go.

I work at one of the sites owned by a major chemical manufacturer. Much of the chemical produced on site is shipped via train. And so, the site is virtually criss crossed with railroad tracks. And the more tardy you are in having to be someplace, the greater the likelihood that some train will be drawing across your path, making you even more late.

I hate trains. I understand their significance though. Both from an historical perspective and also in their efficiency for transporting modern day goods, materials and supplies. Yet, it seems that a little more forethought and planning could have been employed in laying out train tracks. It must seem pithy, but it’s the little annoyances like this that crop up when one is distracted from the more pressing issues of the day, like global warming, climate change, peak oil, rampant pollution, GMO’s, BSE, and the collapse of the world’s fisheries.

I live in a little hamlet nestled in one corner of the crossing of two major rural roadways. A CPR track borders the hamlet, bisecting both the east-west and north-south roadways. There are traffic control signals at both crossings. The track at one time served to transport farmers’ grain from the grain elevators that used to stand here. Now the trains that move over the track haul primarily the various chemicals and other hydrocarbon derivatives manufactured in the area. These trains go through at all hours of the day and night. The train drivers must blow the engine’s whistle at each of the two grade crossings. The more sadistic of train drivers generally start the whistle at one end of town and don’t let up until they’re through the second crossing at the other end of town. Naturally, this is more likely to occur between the hours of midnight and five am.

I don’t where I’m going with this. All I do know for sure is that when we pick out the place to build our next house, it will be a long ways away from any frigging train tracks.


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