I show up at the train station every morning, in time for the 6:04 train. When it pulls into the station I do not get on, because I have nowhere to go and no one to visit. I try to catch someone’s attention to ask them if my package has arrived. In the early years, the conductors didn’t know what I was talking about. But with time, the railway personnel grew used to me hanging around the station, hat in hand, petitioning them, “Would you be so good as to look a second time, Kind Sir?”
It didn’t happen all at once, but over the years I have noticed a change in their manner toward me. A contrast began to build up in my mind between people who have work to do and people who hang around and are politely tolerated.
These days, the train no longer stops here, except on special occasions, and increasingly I don’t recognize the engineer, sitting in the locomotive’s cab in his black striped hat.
Now and then, one of the older engineers will be sitting at the controls and, turning in my direction, as the train pulls through at full speed, he may mouth the words, “Not today”. At such moments, I feel strengthened in my perseverance.
When I return each morning to Shady Acres Retirement Home and join my table for breakfast, if it’s been a cold morning outside, the woman who serves our table and who wears a burqa, will sometimes smile at me, as if she thinks I have been out doing Tai Chi or walking vigorously with my arms swinging.
She’s wrong about that, but she seems to understand me more than anyone else here, where I have lived for the past eleven years. I smile back to her, while thinking: I must remember to say goodbye to her when my package arrives.