Falling Asleep on a Train

Falling Asleep on a Train

By Roger Heid

 

This particular episode occurred during my High School Days, in 1957, as far as I can recall. This was a tough time, because we students were constantly bombarded by tests, one after another and another and another. Life consisted mostly of studying, not much time for play, not even railroads. Yes, I hated it to the hilt, but I knew I had to do it, if I ever wanted to amount to anything other than a boy trying to hitch rides on all the locomotives in sight.

Frequent remarks made by one of my teachers had led me to believe that there was very little chance for that to ever happen. I had taken this to heart and decided to accelerate my academic efforts to the needed degree. I figured I could always yank on steam engine throttles on a later day. For now, scholastic success was the utmost priority, especially if I were to achieve my goal to be a railroad engineer, which required the achievement of certain academic standards. This was a more than sufficient incentive for me to step on it. It became an outright obsession.

‘Twas the night before a very important test in the subject of Physics. I needed to attain at least a B, preferably better. I studied until I fell asleep. What seemed to be just minutes later, this nasty alarm clock of mine exploded into an obnoxious frenzy, as if the whole wide world was ablaze. I promptly catapulted it against the nearest wall. This action turned out to necessitate the acquisition of a new alarm clock, one that was even bigger and ruder.

Nevertheless, I was determined to go back to sleep, but my hard-driving instinct forced me to stay awake and to relentlessly pursue my goal. I decided to turn into a zombie and follow through, come hell or high water, or both.

In due time, I found myself seated in one of the familiar Thunder Boxes, the old 64 puffing away. I had about 20-25 minutes to brush up on the studies of the night before. I reached in my satchel and grabbed the Physics Book.

When I woke up, I found myself in a station about 35 or so miles south from where I should have been. My one month rail pass did not authorize me to be in that location without paying extra. I only had a measly 80 Pfennings in my pocket, not nearly enough to pay for the extra mileage. That alone would definitely not be the worst dilemma. Far ‘worser’ was the fact that I actually missed this very important test. This was an extremely dreadful situation, to put it mildly.

But for now, I had to get off this train, right now, unseen, while it was still not moving. I did manage to do this, in a daze. When I became somewhat ‘undazed’, I found myself crouched behind some passenger train parked on a parallel track.

Then I heard a whistle blow, and sure enough, this train I was hiding behind started to move. That was all I needed. Much to my luck, on a destination sign passing by me, I read that this train was heading to the very place I should have been at, in the first place. I ran a short stretch and managed to pull myself on the second last passenger car. At that moment, I did not give a hoot what type it was. Once inside, I promptly hid in the privy.

This proved to be longest and most boring train ride of all times, I guarantee. Now, the windows in these privies were made of a milky white glass one cannot really see through. In order to monitor where I was, I had to actually step out of the toilet to gain access to an outside view.

As soon as I felt the train was very close to my destination, I opened the bathroom door to take a look outside. I did see what I needed to know, but the Conductor blocked most of the view. Oooops!!! I already saw myself being beheaded by the DBB Guillotine.

Then I remembered a golden rule my late step dad had taught me: ‘Thou shallst not panic when caught by a railroad conductor.’ Something like that, anyway. Hence, I just walked away and hid in a privy as far away as I could get on that train.

Getting off the train was easy. They rarely look at your ticket. The hard part was trying to decide what to do next. I had this dire notion to report to school and just tell them what happened. The problem was, I had no way to prove my story.

Well, I decided to give it a shot, anyway. The Principal was convinced that I was full of you know what. But a certain teacher, the one mentioned above, certified that he believed every word of my tale, and that I should be given the opportunity to take the test, separately.

I did get an A.

Moral of the story: Do your homework before you run trains, of any sort.

One Response to Falling Asleep on a Train

  1. You are so cool! I don’t believe I’ve read anything like that before. So great to discover another person with a few original thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that’s needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

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