I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro. We’re famous for many things. Barbeque. Big hair. Big churches. Interesting downtowns. Mexican food. Our drivers. Our roads. Driving in DFW occasionally feels like a massive reenactment of The Road Warrior (though with far fewer mohawks and leather clothing ensembles).
But we also have something else: the TRE. Trains and Cowtown. It just makes sense. Here’s a little of what I’ve learned by taking the train.
Taking The Train
In no particular order:
- Wifi can be found in the most unlikely places.
- It seems like everyone has headphones these days. People are just as isolated on a train as they are in their cars.
- You can see more when you ride backwards.
- Public transport is a great reminder of your community’s diversity.
- Kids love trains.
- Public transport weirds out many of my friends. I’ve had more friends (who out of concern) offer to take me to my destination than take me to the train station.
- You meet more international travelers on the train.
- Travel light.
- A map is your friend.
- A train schedule is your friend.
- It takes a little longer to get where you’re going, but (at least for me) you arrive much less stressed.
- Nobody messes with the ticket checker.
- $4 in train fare is far better than $40 for parking.
- Most of the people you see are just trying to live their lives in peace.
- Most of the people you see don’t know true peace.
- There’s something soothing about the gentle rocking of a train in motion.
- Eventually all trains come to the end of the line.
- Pack a snack.
- Manners and common courtesy never go out of style.
- Staring is still rude.
- You have at least one thing in common with everyone on the train: you’re in it together.
Taking the train is good for gaining a different perspective. A good chunk of what’s in the list is about perspective and how taking a different path is necessary to adjust and broaden our approach to life. Problem-solving is often a matter of gaining different perspective. For me it’s so necessary that if I’m looking for something, I have to literally change my perspective to see what I’m missing.
For us car riders, taking the train brings you into contact with a part of your community that you wouldn’t otherwise see. It removes the “us & them” mentality for just a little bit. In many parts of the Midwest, the assumption of those who use public is that they cannot afford to drive themselves. My experience has been that you can’t stereotype riders. I’ve seen young professionals, families, the obviously poor, and the obviously middle class.
While traveling through the holidays, the train seems so much more sane. Most of the near misses I’ve had have been in the holidays. I can’t say that I’m going to miss the breakneck traffic, the lack of signaling, rubbernecking, distracted drivers, and the really crazy drivers who seem to find some sort of insane thrill in passing me up on the right and driving diagonally across four lanes of traffic at 100mph. This Thanksgiving, I’m taking the train.