Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Taking The Train

I attended a three day conference in Chicago last week.  It's about a three hour drive for me to Chicago.  One thing I hate is driving in Chicago.  Usually by the time I get to my hotel, I'm ticked off, stressed out, and exhausted.  I'd been dreading that drive for a couple weeks.  Then somebody gave me a great idea, and I immediately realized I was going to do it.  I took the train to Chicago and back.  Last time I rode the train I was about five years old and my family rode the train to Baltimore.  The station is a couple blocks from where I work in Champaign, IL.  It seemed like a perfect solution.

And it was the perfect solution.  I got to the station a few minutes before boarding.  There were no security hassles, boarding was very organized and the train was on time.  It wasn't like the airport.  The travelers on the train weren't all  anxious and worried and pushing to get to the front of the line like you get when you're boarding a plane.  What is usually a three hour drive for me, was a two hour train ride--for about $22.  I stepped off the train at Union Station, got a cab, and was checked into my hotel within twenty minutes.

It was the same thing going home.  Relaxed and easy.  Ten minute cab ride to Union Station, boarded the train, and was on my way.  No stress.  The train was delayed a few times by northward bound freight trains on the way home, but I wasn't in a hurry, so I didn't really mind.  It was early in the day, so I found the dining car, got a cup of coffee and sat at the booth and watched the countryside roll past the windows.

As I sat there, I couldn't help but think about all those old movies I love to watch, and how important a role trains played in moving people and freight back in earlier times.  How the pace of life is so much faster now than it was then.  In fact, it's faster now than it was even twenty years ago.  We're always in such a huge rush to get to the next thing.  We can't seem to spare a moment to appreciate where we are.  Even on the train, I noticed a few people glued to their phones.  But I also noticed strangers doing something you never see many other places these days--I saw them visiting with each other.  Talking about the trip they were going on or had been on.  Talking about shopping in Chicago, or visiting a nephew at the University of Illinois.  You just don't see that much anymore.  Strangers visiting--we don't seem to have a problem being friendly and sharing with each other on social media, but we don't like real people face-to-face as much.

Technology is a great thing, but I sometimes think if comes at a tremendous price.  Sometimes it's nice to just turn it off, and enjoy the journey.

~Todd E. Creason

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