Monday, 8 December 2008
The end of the rails
I’ve been driving the trams for years. ‘It’s a fine life,’ I always said, when people asked me. It’s not boring, like they think.
There’s a strange sort of freedom that comes with the trams. No-one understands that, when I say it to them. ‘Trams are stuck on rails,’ they say. ‘There’s nowhere to go than where you always go. A bus driver, even a train driver will need to go a different way sometimes, but you’re always on the same rails, going the same way, day after day.’
I find it hard to explain why I feel free on the trams. I can never explain my thoughts clearly when people ask after that. I tell them, sometimes, in reply, that I believe God has put before us a hundred and two different ways and means of getting through the day, every day. And if we thought, about all the different decisions we made in one single day, and where these all might have taken us, if we’d done things differently, then we might all go completely mad.
You see, these decisions, they’re taken away from me – when I’m on the rails. I only have to stop and start when either the lights or the people ringing the bell tell me to. Everything else has been decided for me. And I’m free, then. Do you see?
Found out I had some sort of chronic anaemia this year. Doctor didn’t recommend I kept working on the trams. Could be dangerous; if I got tired, you see. Could get sick from meeting so many people, too. Immune system’s buggered now, apparently.
So, the company are retiring me. Can’t get insurance for me to drive the trams, anymore. I’m into my last week on the route, this week. A couple of women brought me a card the other day; said they were very sorry to see me go, that I was the only friendly driver on the route, these days. That was nice to hear. Someone else said she had a present for me, but every morning she says she’s forgotten it and will bring it in tomorrow. She’s got so much to think about in the morning you see, so many decisions to make.
People tell me it’ll be great when I’m finished on the trams. That I’ll have so much time to relax and enjoy life; do all the things I missed out on while I was travelling the rails. But, truth be told, I don’t know what I’ll do. I don’t know what to do; what can I do?
When the rails run out, there’s only roads to travel and paths to choose. Sometimes it seems all too much, this choice, the unlimited journeys we can make. It all gets so overwhelming that I can’t think of anything else. I don’t feel free anymore and I can see the end of the rails coming up fast. All I want to do is turn around, and go back the way I came.