A Short Story About People.
Recently, I decided I wanted to explore the option of bringing my bicycle on the local train, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Commuter Rail; better known at the “T.”
It wasn’t so much that I needed to get a certain distance with the aid of something other than my legs, as it was I needed logistical information for possible use in a longer excursion that I had in my head; all which turns an ordinary transportation task into a “Biking Adventure.”
I rode my bike 5 miles, one city over to Providence, Rhode Island. I had never taken a bike on the “T” before, and I needed to see how the process played out; how to get down to the tracks, enter the train, and store my bike onboard. I rode the elevator from the station down to the platform to a waiting train. Having done some simple reconnaissance on a similar “mission” to bring my bike on Amtrak (a complete failure), I only knew that I should select the “double decker” car, as it would have a bike symbol and room to put the bike. I snaked my bike (complete with panniers for a realistic simulation) onto the train. The conductor approached me and asked me to move to one of the forward cars up near the engine. I asked where should I store my bike. “Anywhere it will fit” he said. This was not the exact exploratory information I was looking for, but that’s fine, because this blog is not about biking, it’s about people.
I entered a new rail car and moved my bike into the large space near the end of the car. There was a seat right next to the larger space, and was suddenly occupied by 3 women; which turned out to be a mother and her two daughters. This was kind of unfortunate as the entire train was empty and the bike was “dangerously close” to their feet and legs. I was relieved when they offered to move.
Well, it only took 3 seconds before I was kneeling up in the train seat looking behind so I could talk to the women who just moved for me. Just before the train began to move, the mother said, “I hope we won’t be riding backward.” I smiled. Because train seats often “face” both ways, I think one fun thing in life is not always being sure which way the train will move. It seems like “one” would know this, but I like the “train roulette adventure” uncertainty of it all.
As it turned out, we all became fast friends; which was great, because the slow-moving train trip was only to last 20 to 30 minutes. We all had something in common. Curiosity. Where does that train go, how long does it take, how much does it cost to ride, where is the train station? The mother loved trains; often dreaming about longer adventures, and the wonderful places they would take her. She wanted to ride the “T” as well for the first time. The daughters also had never taken the local commuter rail, and were always looking for some unique way to spend time with their mother on the occasions they all got together.
They all live in the town next to me which was only two towns away from Providence. They told me how they had down a little research, even confusing the Amtrak Station and the local Commuter Rail Station at Wickford Junction. Sometimes the rail lines meet at common stations, sometimes they don’t. No worries, ascertaining this “intelligence” should always be part of the fun in any “travel mission.”
They told me how they had “traveled all the way” from a few towns over to spend some time together and explore. They told me how they arrived at beautiful Providence Station; basically, on the front lawn of the Rhode Island State House. They said they stayed at the café inside the station and had Danish and bagels, while drinking tea and coffee; enjoying their own company and people watching.
My euphoria beamed wide open; “I am SO proud of you “girls” I blurted out!” Before I had a millisecond to reconsider such a statement to 3 women I didn’t know at all, their faces lit up with joy, and the daughter who planned the adventure burst out with “I am so proud of us too!”
So, what is this blog really all about?
It’s the idea that “adventure, travel, and chance meeting of fascinating people,” doesn’t always have to be across the Globe; sometimes, it’s just across the street. Get out, look around, take a walk, travel somewhere new in your own backyard.
Walk into that renovated library at the corner, the café down on the bridge, or sit upon the new bench in the park.
Take a chance; strike up a conversation with a stranger, smile, say hello.
If I had never biked another mile when I got off the train, my travel expedition was an amazing success.
I met “the world,” they met me, and I got another stamp in my Passport of Life.