The Train Ride

The train warmed up its engines, sitting at the San Luis Obispo station.  Several people sat looking out, thinking of their upcoming trip.  A bald man sat down next to a young woman who held an Ayn Rand novel in front of her.

“I see you are reading Atlas Shrugged” he commented.

“Yes, it is the biggest book I have ever read” she answered.

“You must be very proud.”

“Yes, I am.  But I haven’t gotten to the part where any actual shrugging is done.  And there is no Atlas.  Just a woman named Dagny, with a brother named James, and an ambitious man named Hank Reardon.  But there is no Atlas.  I don’t get it.”

“I don’t get it either.”

They sat looking at the usual things moving by:  Cows, power lines, bums dressed in black.

Just when she thought she was in the clear, the bald man started up again.

“I was reading a book about Aphrodite yesterday.”

“Who is Aphrodite?”

“She was the Goddess of Love.”

“I think I heard of her.  And who was Hermaphrodite?”

“I am not sure, but I would avoid him.”

An overweight man in overalls sat down next to them.  He joined in the conversation.

“I am writing a science fiction novel” he said.

They looked at each other and the young woman responded.

“What is it about?”

“It is about a race of people who have green blood and blue waste material.”

“That is very interesting.”

“And they have three legs.”

“I can’t wait to read it.”

“They also have four eyes.”

“Let’s hear some of it.”

“I just happen to have a copy here.  OK, here goes.”

Drak arrives at work in the usual manner: by hover-shoe.  He can hear his boss talking to his co-workers, who are space-maggots.  “Listen up maggots!  I have heard a lot of talk from some of you about why you are late to work.  It’s usually something along the lines of “I couldn’t find my two pairs of glasses, or my third shoe was missing.  Well that won’t cut it, maggots!  I put my pants on three legs a time like the rest of you, and I am a green-blooded being, so shape up!”

One of the workers pipes in.

“But Sir, I am never late!”

“Shut up, maggot!  Nobody likes a blue-noser.”

The overweight man in the overalls looked up. 

“So what do you think?  Do you like it?”

“It was wonderful” the bald man said.

“I have to go to the bathroom” the young woman commented.

The man in the overalls continued his conversation with the bald man.

“I just got back from Seattle, the Windy City.”

“Seattle isn’t the Windy City. Chicago is the Windy City.”

“Well, Seattle was pretty windy when I was there.”

“I am investing in snakes and lizards.  One day I hope to be a reptillionaire.”

“Do the lizards ever have problems reproducing?”

“Sometimes, yes, they do.”

“Maybe you should bring them to someone who specializes in reptile dysfunction.”

“I was thinking about something this morning.  Do you mind if I share?”

“No, please do.”

“If Ron Glass ate half of a meal, would Ron Glass be half full or half empty?”

“Have you seen any movies lately”

“No, but I heard about a new movie called The King’s Peach.”

“I will have to check it out.”

“I went to the circus last week, and all of the circus people raced around a big track.”

“What was it called, The Freakness?”

“How did you know?”

The woman returned to her seat, this time wearing headphones.

“What are you listening to?” the bald man asked.

She took off her headphones and answered, “I am listening to Henry Purcell.”

“Henry Purcell?  Wasn’t he on Melrose Place?”

“No, he lived 300 years ago and wrote some of the first classical music.”

“So he wasn’t on Melrose Place?”

“No, he wasn’t on Melrose Place.”

“I liked that show.  Everyone had good teeth.  Not like in the real world.  So where are you going?”

“I have a job interview.”

“I hate job interviews.  Especially when they ask me how I am under pressure.”

“If they ask you how you are under pressure, just tell them you can function well up to 200 psi.  If they don’t laugh at that one, you don’t want to work there.”

“What makes you think I want to work there now?”

The train stopped in Goleta, and several older people got on the train.  An elderly man with glasses sat down across from the young woman.

“Hello” he said to her.

“Hello yourself” she responded.

“I am just on my way to the zoo to see a polar bear that is exhibiting symptoms of depression.”

“So I guess you could call him a Bipolar Bear?”


“Never mind.”

The man in the overalls jumped in to the conversation.

“I am going to a funeral.”

“I am sorry to hear that” the elderly man said.

“Yes, a friend of mine stopped drinking.”

“Wouldn’t that save his life?”

“No, this guy literally stopped drinking.  He died of dehydration in 72 hours.”

“He doesn’t sound very bright.”

“No, he wasn’t.  He was really quite dense.  And he only left his house once a day.”

“What was that for?”

“To get the paper and take out the cat poop.”

“Well, he is in a better place now.”

“Are you sure about that?”

The young woman looked up and said to the man in the overalls, “Do you know how to paint the inside of a house?  I am trying to save some money”

“Yes, but I am not very good at it.  My house looks like a Picasso painting, only it’s not supposed to. Painting your own house is kind of like trying to have sex on Ambien.  It can be done, but the end result is usually disappointing.”

“I want to paint my house, and get new pillars.”

“Oh, do you have marble pillars?

“No, I have goose down pillars.”

The man in the overalls sat looking through a stack of papers.  He looked up at the group and said “Look what I found in my mail.  It is an advertisement for male enhancement.”

The bald man looked at them all and said “How about that?  Junk mail about male junk.”

The train gently made its way along the coastline while everyone thought about how different their lives had turned out from what they had expected.

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