Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Secret World of Trains

Sometimes I really dislike trains because there is a train track near my work, and sometimes when a train come, it blocks me from actually getting to work and I will have to wait up to 40 minutes! But, I am able to forgive this inconvenience because trains are romantic and their very existence encourages the mind to wander into daydreams.

I like imagining where they are going and imagining the people who have train hopped on them and are watching the world pass from their stowaway location. I also like how talented graffiti artists use rusted old trains as their canvas. Then the trains become like touring museums, featuring work from all around the country. Maybe on one car an artist from Kansas paints a beautiful graffiti mural and on the train car next to it, an artist from Delaware paints something else.

In Ballard, we have an old train track that isn't used anymore. There are weeds covering the tracks and people walk along them without fear of being run over. There are also some decommissioned trains that sit peacefully in the sun.

Although train culture is not what it use to be, hobos still exist today, wandering the the country on a rattling, railroad journey. One thing that is interesting about hobos is they have their own secret hieroglyphics so the can communicate important messages to other hobos. Here is what some of the pictures mean.

  • Cat: A kind woman lives here
  • An X with two eyes: Safe camp
  • A frowning crescent moon: A dishonest person lives here
  • A number 2 over the number 10: Thieves roam about
  • A symbol that looks like a child's stick drawing of a lady next to three triangles: Tell a pitiful story to elicit sympathy and get something good 
Hobo culture seems like a close knit community, despite being spread out far and wide across the country, always moving, always traveling. But the way the hobos communicate via these symbols is sweet, they are all looking out for each other.


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