Tuesday, March 25, 2008


One of the few driving obstacles in my daily commute is a rather busy four-way stop in South Lake Stevens. A common traffic phenomenon. However, at 6:50 a.m. the combination of under-caffeination and the mysterious desperation of most suburbanites to get to work on time give it Sudoku-like complexity. It is always YOUR turn to go, regardless of who you are and what order you happened to arrive at the intersection. Sometimes one can witness an entire peace treaty being negotiated between two drivers who just want to turn left. We need to send these folks to the Middle East.

Stop takes on a whole new meaning in the railroad world. The Sounder train routinely breezes past red lights on the tracks between Everett and Seattle. This doesn’t exactly inspire confidence for those of us accustomed to the automobile world. I felt a little better after noting that railroad-speaking navigators appear to make use of metal stop flags that are actually blue. The disturbing part about the blue stop flags is that their battered and mangled bodies litter the tracks like road kill. Clearly, “stop” is a relative term to a train.

Other phrases must also have different meanings along the tracks. One doesn’t like to admit to cultural ignorance, but some of the terms stenciled onto train cars leave me wondering. Do they just mean something different, or does this sub-section of society have a really twisted sense of humor? I’m talking about officially sanctioned notices, not graffiti. I understand the graffiti.


Huh? With what? Don’t you use chains to secure things? What do you use to secure the chains? More chains? What do you secure those chains with? Rob says this train of thought is a “chain reaction”.


Do we really need to tell the railroad employees not to hammer on the cars? Do people habitually come round the trains with hammers and pound on the sides to see what will happen? Is anyone really stupid enough to pulverize the side of a train car that also clearly states “SODIUM HYDROCHLORIDE” or “LIQUID CARBON DIOXIDE”?


Right. I really want someone to explain this to me. Or maybe not.


I am NOT making this up. Perhaps cultural ignorance is not a bad thing.

So, I’m pretty sure that the employees of Burlington Northern are not the right people to send to the Middle East for conflict resolution. On the other hand, they’re probably really good at Sudoku.



Anonymous said...

Thank you for brightening my day - your antedotes have a way of always making me smile.

Hope all is going well . . .

What's your weekend schedule in the next month or so???

:-) Liz

Anonymous said...

also do not apply vibrator to mysterious calf pain.... or so I've heard.

Anonymous said...

Your stepfather knows what those terms mean.

Patience-please said...

You need to repost this when your readership has grown (which it surely will). It is priceless!!!

Joe said...

Your stepfather knows what those terms mean.

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Jenn and the City

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