I thought it would look like a bright state of the art high tech palace of glass, shiny metal, and busy electronic screens. I envisioned a huge place, along the lines of the Space shuttle control room, able to handle the traffic of a large airport or international train station.
You say train station; I say thousands of people pushing and shoving, speed walking and scurrying to get to their destination. This was not the case. There was no bright shiny palace of glass and electronics, and there was no throng of people. There were no high speed shuttles to transport passengers in and out of terminals. In fact there was no one around but my son and me.
I should have known something was wrong. We followed directions to the train station that leads us down a single lane dirt road with no mile markers in the middle of nowhere. There was only one sign that read, “Ride till dawn.” The dusty road completely powdered the car and made seeing impossible at high speeds, so we were forced to drive slowly. Finally, the road stopped.
To my surprise, there was no huge parking lot filled with cars and running shuttles, no large ticket booth or machines to purchase tickets prior to departure. Evidently, you had to have a ticket purchased elsewhere, prior to boarding.
As we pull off the road, the dusk that chased us down the road has finally caught up to us and settles. In the dark of the night, all we can see, illuminated by our headlights, is an old faded wooden shed with a platform. It has an extended roof to protect waiting passengers from the elements.
What concerns me is there are no other passengers and more importantly, I see no train.
I purchased my son a train ticket because the doctors told me to. I took him to the train station because they said his train would be coming soon. Here we sit every day in a hospital room doing what I really hate, waiting. It feels like we are sitting on this old wooden bench, looking both ways down virtual tracks and listening for at least the sound of the oncoming locomotive. We assume it will be pulling into the station at some point.
Normally, trains are heard long before they are seen. The engine, the horn, and railroad crossing signals, equipped with flashing lights, alert us of our approaching chariot of metal. I hear and see nothing but flashing blood pressure monitors, scurrying nurses checking for vitals, and the occasional visit but the doctor. Each visit, they say the same thing, “Buy your son and ticket and take him to the train station.”
I notice, we are not talking much and I guess it’s because we just don’t have much to say. I really don’t want to hear him ask, “Where are we going?” I don’t know what I would say if he screams, “I don’t want to go!” This seems to be the tough part because I have no clue how this part plays out. The time of departure, which direction the train is coming, or even what that train looks like, are all questions a bit too overwhelming for me to deal with at this point.
Did I fail to mention to you that I see no tracks?
The other day, I asked the doctor if it would be okay to leave my son and go home for the weekend. He replied, “I would stick around this weekend if I were you.”
He must know something.
No bells, no tracks, no sound of an oncoming train, no gathering of traveling passengers, no glass, no computer screens displaying departure and arrival times, and NO TRAIN. It’s just me, my son, his ticket, and doctors’ orders. “Get him a ticket, and take him to the train station,” said the Doctor.
I hate the wait.