Hop a Train

My take on Sunday Writing Prompt “Train Ticket” https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2019/08/18/sunday-writing-prompt-train-ticket/

Follow the tracks

No ticket needed when you’re dared to jump a moving train. In the summer of 1980, I was minding my own business when my cousins (all boys) started talking about hopping on the next train that came into town. It just happened to be the small town of Bridgeport, Texas. I was 14 and the only girl in the bunch. I thought they were crazy! How could they even think of such a thing??? Not gonna get me to do that! Nope! Never!

There were times the train would creep through town & times it would blast by. As kids, we never knew how it was going to arrive in town nor did we care. Today, we cared! Often, we would walk or ride our bikes to the nearest convenient store to buy candy & a soda pop in a glass bottle. The train tracks ran right by the store which was located on our side of the tracks. No need to cross those dangerous rails to get our goodies.

As my cousins & I hung around the convenient store, the conversation got heated over the decision to do it or not do it. It’s amazing how brave or foolish we can be based on peer pressure. It reminds me of the saying “would you jump off a bridge because your friends are doing it?” Whenever I heard that, I always thought…depends on how tall the bridge is. Better yet, it depends on how fast the train is going.

I was all of 5 feet tall, 80 lbs of tomboy at the time. Each of them, ranging in ages from 15-19, were staring manhood in the face. As the debate continued, I was ready to walk away and head back to the house. They started saying things like “she’s a girl & ain’t got the guts”. Making chicken noises & parading around like a bunch of dorks doing the chicken dance. It wasn’t the chicken dance they were doing as they egged me on. The dare complete!

Then the whistle blew! It was time to decide. The guardrails came down, the lights started flashing and we could feel the ground shutter as the train approached the crossing. We moved closer as vehicles were stopping in a straight line yielding to the approaching train. The boys caught sight of the train which had slowed as it got closer to our destination. The boys were ready and I know I must have had a look of terror on my face as I tried to be brave. I kept my composure, adrenaline running hot and prepared myself not to be a chicken. Follow the Leader at its best!

The engine passed us and we waved to the conductor. The train was only moving about 5 mph. The boys looked at me & counted down. 3, 2, 1 and before I knew it, we jumped. Caught the side of the rail car & road it passed the crossing guard & then jumped off. A couple of bruises & scrapes for our troubles. It was a rush! My stupidity to give into peer pressure now turned into guilt.

It got worse though! I was fine, no broken bones, no harm, no foul! Wrong! Someone in the car line recognized us & ratted us out to our parents. I got my butt beat for my efforts of bravery! This day has resonated for me my whole life. The lesson of this day sure came in handy 4 years later when I joined the United States Marine Corps & almost backed out when one of my other cousins dared me to keep my decision in tact. He claimed I was too little to make it through boot camp. At the time of enlistment, I was 5′ 1″ & 88 lbs. Proved them wrong again! Served 12 years & got out as a Sergeant.

By the way….I would not suggest taking a train without a ticket to anyone! No matter what!!!

Me, 1984

9 Comments on “Hop a Train

  1. Pingback: “City of New Orleans” – Arlo Guthrie – Open Your Eyes Too!

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