Saturday, February 12, 2011

Riding the Rails: Part Five

(Railroad Bridge, Argenteuil; Claude Monet; 1874; Philadelphia Museum of Art)

I bask in my neurotic fantasies for quite some time. 

Eventually, I realize that facts must be faced.

Bob gently opens the door to our cell.

We see that Matt and Tara are reading on their trays.

Bob and I return to our perches and grab our books.

An abrupt knock on the door soon interrupts our reading marathon.

Matt swings the door open and stares at the warden who quickly enters the room.

The warden and Matt begin talking in Spanish.

Matt translates for us as they converse.

Mysteries unfold as Matt explains that an electric cable on top of the train snapped last night.

Train personnel attempted to repair it but they did not have the proper parts.

The current holdup is this: We are waiting for new parts to arrive from Paris.

The warden adds that the parts are due to arrive at any time.

He says that it will take minutes to install the parts and then we will be moving again.

The warden saves the best news for last:

The train company will reimburse each passenger 100% of their ticket fee due to this delay disaster.

That information spares the warden's life.

We smile weakly and thank him for his kindness.

We have now been stuck on the tracks for eight blissful hours.

I dig into my truffles to appease myself.

Gallantly, I share the very last chocolates with my companions.

Suddenly, the train jerks to life.

I am grateful for every forward spin those pretty little wheels make!

I promise myself that I will not whine about this train or anything related to it ever again.

We roll through the countryside for over an hour.

Then the unthinkable happens.

The train comes to a dead stop at 2:30 p.m.

We sit still on the tracks (inside the train, of course) wondering, worrying and waiting.

The warden is wisely making himself scarce.

Very scarce.

Just like the rest of us, he wants to live to see Paris.

That promise I made to myself about not whining?

Out the window faster than the fastest Formula One race car at the Indy 500.

We hear rumors that the train is picking up supplies at Bordeaux where we are stopped.

As if by magic, box lunches are delivered to our cell thirty minutes later.

The meals are nearly inedible.

The curried chicken and rice looks like it was cooked 30 years ago.

Cautiously, I place a fork full in my mouth.


They must have put this stuff together when the pharaohs were ruling Egypt.

With quiet resignation, my cellmates and I accept this latest turn of events.

Have I finally accepted the fact that no amount of whining, complaining or use of sarcasm will change a thing about this rail ride to Paris?

I would not bet my last dime on it.

But as long as there is life there is hope.

So we busy ourselves as best we can.

Matt plays games on his iphone.

Tara and I watch old sit-coms on her ipod.

Bob reads and takes a snooze.

I take out my French language guide and brush up on some basics.

I teach everyone how to say: "je voudrais" ( zhuh voo-dray) which means "I would like."

I personally feel that this is the most important phrase in any language.

Example: Je voudrais A CHOCOLATE CROISSANT.

Or perhaps: Je voudrais A CHOCOLATE CREPE.

Possibly: Je voudrais THAT DIAMOND BRACELET.

Well, you get my drift.

An hour passes and mercifully we are moving again.

We are still three and a half hours away from Paris.

But who's counting?

1 comment:

  1. I should really check out your blog more often, but getting to read all 5 "Riding the Rails" at one reading was a treat. You can "paint" a situation with words and crack me up at the same time. Love it.