The Train – A Fable?

The Train - The Fable?

The Train – The Fable?

Once there was a man who lived a good life.”  He would travel to faraway places, and when he would arrive home the welcome was that of wide-open arms and joy as his family would run to meet him.”  Even though his duties took him away from them, he always knew they would be waiting for his return.

The routine he followed daily was rather the same.”  Every morning, on schedule, he would get up and walk to the station where the train would meet him.”  It was always there on time and ready to take him away.”  The conductor would greet him with a nod and a smile when he climbed on board.”  The man would then walk down the aisle and find his usual seat in the car where the regular folk would sit and read their newspapers.

Many years had passed and his children had gotten older.”  Their needs were different, but there was nothing that he could not provide.”  He had done well in life and was able to afford fine apparel and a shiny timepiece that kept him on schedule to meet the train.”  He took very good care of it.”  Every morning as he walked to the station he would polish the silvery pocket watch before tucking it safely away inside his overcoat.

The conductor still would greet him, but now the conductor would also tip his hat and call him by name.”  He would then escort the man down the aisle to his regular seat in the car with the fancy linens and shiny things.”  There the man was served warm biscuits and hot tea as he sat comfortably, watching the world go by.

One day the man’s wife got sick, and he did all he could to care for her until she was well, yet he still had to meet the train.”  As time carried on, more misfortune came into his life when the horse-drawn carriage wheel broke and his boy had an accident.”  The doctor needed his fair pay, as did the workingman who helped repair the buggy.”  It became more difficult for the needs of his family to be met.

He still would meet the train every day, but now the fare was harder to pay, so he would sell things.”  He regained his old usual seat in the car where the regular folk would sit and read the newspaper.”  Only now he would not bring his own but would hope that a passenger would leave an old paper behind, even if it were yesterday’s news.

Time carried on, and so did the difficulties of life.”  All of the shiny things were no more, but he still had his family and hopes for a better day.”  He continued to get up each morning and walk to the station where the train would be waiting to take him away.”  But one day, as he reached into his pocket for change to pay the fare, he realized he hadn’t enough money.”  The conductor no longer looked him in the eye, and instead of greeting him with a nod and a smile he simply turned away.”  And so the train left without him.

The man knew the direction he needed to go and began to walk.”  His journey was long and dusty.”  He had little to eat, and the farther he walked the more difficult the path was to travel and the more he desired the comfort of his old life.

One day as he was journeying home, he noticed the path had come to an open field, and in the distance he could see the train tracks.”  With the soles of his shoes worn thin, and feeling each rock with every painful step, he wondered if the ground would be smoother and more even up near the tracks.”  He knew of the dangers of walking where the train swiftly goes but still made the choice to take that path rather than struggling through the sharp rocks and thickets where he had been.

He justified his choice by thinking that he would arrive home much sooner and that he knew when the train would come along; even if it arrived early, he would most certainly hear and see it in the distance before it came too dangerously close.

He was wrong.”  No matter what he thought would happen and how he had prepared, he was not prepared for the train to come around the bend towards him when it did and at the speed it was traveling. At this point he was halfway across the train trestle that spanned the mighty river. In frantic surprise and with nowhere to go, the man turned around and started to run as fast as he could, but it wasn’t fast enough.”  As he stopped in his tracks and turned back to face the train rushing towards him, he wondered how he could save himself.”  Grasping the few coins in his pocket, he thought, “If I throw them on the track, maybe one will land just so and stop the train.””  Wisdom took hold of his senses just in time for him to jump clear of the oncoming train, and he fell far into the dark, cold water below.”  He came to the surface gasping for air and with all of his might struggled to reach the shore. There he lay for quite some time.

Pondering his circumstance, the man realized then how comfortable he had become with the train and how it had taken him many places but never without a price.”  It took being faced with its danger for him to stop wanting it.”  At that point he got up” and gratefully continued on his journey down the old rubble path, knowing it would take him home””home to his family, and richer, for his experience had made him free to walk his journey another day.

In Other’s Words:

Some debts are fun when you are acquiring them,

But none are fun when you set about retiring them.”

~Ogden Nash~


This is a personal account inspired by a man whose story is reflected through this fable. The train represents easy credit and the physical comforts it can provide. But credit uncontrolled leads to dangerous debt and the perils” it can bring.

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