Something I Didn’t Know I Wanted To Do: Train-Crime

It’s 2017 which doesn’t even sound like a real year to me. Every year we get a little closer to sounding like the beginning of a science fiction movie from the 80s. And with that progression toward hovercars and casual abuse of laser pistols, we get a little further from the possibility of something truly magical happening, something I didn’t know I wanted to do until very recently. Every year we get a little further from train robberies.

Look at this: not a robber in sight. Such a shame

I ride my bike home along Route 66–which sounds like a line from a classic rock song but is actually just kind of boring. Alongside the road is a train track. Connoisseurs of train-crime will be able to predict the criminal avenues my mind wandered while riding home yesterday. There I was, leisurely rolling down the road, saying “hey buddy” to the prairie dogs as they popped from the ground. Then, there was a train. To say this was an average train would be doing it a disservice. Average trains chug along, they inspire songs and stories and anthropomorphization in children’s television. Where most trains may barrel down their tracks or even roll at a steady but respectable pace, this train crawled. I related to it because it reminded me of myself anytime I’ve been foolish enough to jog.

You can tell this picture is staged because she’s smiling and nobody has ever smiled while running

I ride my bike at a modest 8 miles per hour. That’s not very fast, but I was a Nascar on a greased track going downhill with a suicidal driver in the rain compared to this thing. I was halfway through the speed limit in a school zone, and this train could have been outrun by a construction crew building the track ahead of it by hand.

Ready for some crime

While I was riding next to it, I was struck with an idea. As I get older, I feel like I’ve begun to understand the Grinch a little better. Not the Grinch with the three-times-bigger heart, but the Grinch with the shriveled black grape in his chest. I saw the train crawling along the tracks like a dehydrated man dying in the desert, and I realized I could rob it. I could rob it on my bicycle.

I do not know how common bicycle-mounted crime is, but I’m certain I’ll be one of the first to rob a train that way. I wanted to roll up beside it, peddle my way to the conductor’s car, and make a daring leap from my steed. It would roll to a stop in the dust, and I’d be left alone with the hapless conductor. I wouldn’t hurt them. I’m more of the delightfully charismatic criminal than the violent kind. The remarkably slow train was not the kind to carry passengers. The type of people to ride trains has somewhat reversed in the last 100 years, so robbing a passenger train would be less Robin Hood stealing from the rich and more Donald Trump stealing from people too poor to afford a car.

It was a cargo train. A cargo train with horses. A horse-go train because I didn’t actually see any cars. I could furnish an entire outlaw gang using the supplies I could steal from this train, and then I could rob it again.

I’d flee with my new outlaw band. We’d ride into the woods, sit around a campfire, eat beans directly from the can like real ruffians. We might go to a saloon together. It would be a new life for me, a life very different from being a broke English teacher, but I would manage with the help of my criminal buddies.

Exactly how I picture it

Sometimes, I get carried away daydreaming while riding my bike home. This was one of those times.

24 Replies to “Something I Didn’t Know I Wanted To Do: Train-Crime”

  1. Hilarious. I imagine you’d be all excited to see what you were able to steal, only to find out it’s a bunch of horses. You’d leave, a bit sad. Then the conductor would wipe his brow, thankful you didn’t check to see that these were all prized racing horses that could have made you at least three fortunes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just think how we are now light-years away from worthwhile train crime. Nobody travels from east to west by train with all of their valuables in a trunk anymore. For that matter, nobody takes their whole wardrobe with them on a three-hour boat tour anymore. But now I’ve changed the subject from trains to boats and I’ll shut up about that now. The passing comment about the Grinch thing is totally real. Pretty soon my heart will be the size of a raisinette or however you spell those singing chocolate raisin things.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This little blurb actually made me laugh out loud. Not like, lol, which is what you typically say in a text conversation when something is actually not all funny. Glad I stumbled on this piece, thanks for bringing some joy to my day. And thank you twice for being a teacher, they are the most underpaid world-influencers I know.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought all broke English teachers sat around a campfire (because they cannot afford to pay for heat), eat beans directly from the can (because they cannot afford plates or real food like corned beef hash in the can) like real ruffians (or hooligans). Hey thanks for not correcting a comment I left you awhile back. I was going through some and found I had made several errors in my comment, I mean glaring errors, not just non-English teacher errors…. Good job holding the English teacher red pen back!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, those are the fancy teachers that can afford the fire. I’ve got some wood but only because I fought off a pack of art teachers for it. Fire is an aspiration.

      Ha! Don’t worry about it. I only get nitpicky when it’s asked for. Also, who needs perfect grammar and stuff on the internet?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Brilliant piece! Thanks for sharing it. As an aside, I hopped a freight train in my youth because I was on a quest to be a fascinating hobo philosopher and writer It was a lot less romantic than I imagined. In fact, it was downright unpleasant. I enrolled in college a week later and never looked back. I may be willing to suffer for my art, but only a little bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That wild. I met a few would-be hobo philosophers at school, and they’ve all agreed it was pretty awful. Suffering for art is overrated. Suffering for the sake of suffering is where the real fun is at


  6. This is really funny, Butch. May I call you Butch or do you prefer Mr. Cassidy? If you are an English teacher, I think the appropriate title is Miss Etta. This is really funny, Miss Etta.

    Liked by 1 person

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