old ways

Today as I was running errands I saw the lights flashing and the guard bars coming down at a railroad track crossing.

“Rats!” was my first thought, and then I realized I was actually early for my next stop and I could have time to sit and wait without worry.

Then I remembered what we would do when I was young and there were many more trains blocking our roads from time to time. We would count the cars, mostly freight cars, and try to be the one among friends who had seen the longest train. So I determined I would enjoy my wait time and count the cars again.

In just a minute the engine came into view, and there was a second engine behind the first. Lickety-split they sped by! And that was it. No cars to count after all. Soon the lights stopped flashing and the bars went back up. I guess I was a little disappointed.

I come from a family of “railroad men,” including my father and both grandfathers. I guess it is a good thing that no one in my family has to make a living in this dwindling industry anymore. Something about that saddens me, but maybe I am getting old and out of date as well. And most of the time I am very thankful that I don’t have to sit and wait at railroad crossings anymore!


are we still welcome?

My current pet peeve is having someone answer my “Thank you” with “No problem.”

Should whatever they have done that I am thanking them for be a problem in the first place?

If I am at a restaurant, isn’t the waiter being paid (and tipped) for his/her work? If so, bringing my food to the table or refilling my drink is an expected task, not a problem.

If someone holds the door for me, could that be a problem for them? If so, I would rather them not do it than to tell me it is “No problem.”

If I check out at a store or order something over the phone, and I thank the person who helped me, is the work they have done a problem for them? Again, I thought it was their job, something that they were paid to do. So when I thank them, I shouldn’t have to be assured that their doing their job isn’t a problem – for them or for me.

I know most of the time these workers are mimicking what they hear in today’s culture, but really, can’t we stop and think about what we say and not just be parrots or echoes?

I like being told, “You’re welcome” when I thank someone. It is much better to me to be told that my thanks are welcomed and appreciated, rather than to be told I am not a problem.

Or maybe we are not welcome anymore….