Tuesday, October 04, 2005

On trains with military precision

Man, I had forgotten how long this commute could be. I mean, it´s actually even LONGER than the Frankfurt to Berlin commute I did two years ago. I left work Friday night at 4.45pm, arrived in Berlin at 11.23 pm and this morning I was up at 5.30 am to get a 6.30 train, to arrive here at 12.30 (later than it was meant to be due to some train delays and missed connections).

I´m just plain ol´ tuckered out.

An extremely surreal moment happened this morning while waiting for the next connection in Mannheim. Standing on the platform, shivering in the fresh autumn chill that has appeared in the last week, I glanced up from my book (The Algebraist from Ian Banks – VERY good) and watched a strangely silent cargo train pull in to a halt in front of me. The thing was….I mean, the thing WAS that this entire train was laden with army tanks. Lacking their turrets, and apparently personal and heavy ammunition, but still 30 or more LARGE army tanks sitting on the back of a train in front of me. Apparently they were American - well they had names such as Sgt Powell and SSR Roberts painted onto the sides, not your typical German names. It´s probably not that odd a sight here in an area that has had American military occupation for 50 years, but for me it was extremely strange. It did seem to bring a hush over the whole platform and as the train started moving slowly off again there wasn´t a single person talking.

It was a bit like watching a funeral procession. In our everyday, mundane, commuter lives it reminded us of war and death. And that both were happening now, and not that far away.


bloggsy said...

I guess this raises 2 issues for me. In Australia that sort of time travel by train would probably not get you out of the city by the time you allowed for train cancellations, delayed services and interpreting what the station announcer was trying to say.
As for the tanks; so that's where they are . I thought they were all in the middle east. Reminds me of comment on the ABC last night; " Would the Americans be there if Irag was exporting aspargus?"

Tom said...

Bloggsy, in response to your two comments/issues. Firstly, at least you have trains in Australia. Ok, so you have to spend 2 hours getting out of the city, but at least you can. Try coming to southern California where the concept of public transport doesn't actually exist. They're more concerned with bitching about how "gas" is now $3 a GALLON... "But my 4 tonne SUV with it's 5.8 litre V8 only does 14 miles per gallon. It costs me $100 a week in gas".
In response to the second, NO. Of course they wouldn't. They need to somehow make sure that morons who buy 4 tonne, 5.8L V8's have cheap gas...