Archive for November, 2010

The Best Place

November 28, 2010

Sometimes the mind has the best view.  That became much clearer to me reading a New York Times article this morning on the return of one of “The Lost Boys” to the Sudan after 22 years.  Joseph came home to take part in their election for independence.   The words reeled such a clear and emotional picture of the homecoming that I just felt the tears at the end.  I was curious to see the video that was attached to the story.   How is it that the video  failed to capture the emotion of the story?  Words had worked but pictures did not. Why?

Perhaps it is because words can only succeed within a close and personal  bond with the reader.  Yes, pictures can create an impact impossible to escape as with the young girl on fire from napalm in Vietnam.   But pictures, especially video, involves a gulf that makes the deep mind a passive participant.  Like the wind, pictures can fly by but words must go deeper.  How does that relate to the trolley?

The Hendersonville Tree Lighting was a grand affair as well as downright cold.  We felt like arctic explorers as we festooned the trolley with pretty garland, tinsels and bows.  No matter how you try there are some things you can’t do with gloves.  (Yes, we are wimps in the South.)

Cinderella was the prettiest I had every seen her.  Joshua had shined and cleaned that trolley to a brilliant penny.   John arrived for some last minute repairs.  No way were those fuel filters on his pride and joy going to clog going down that street.

I was unprepared for the reception.  As the barricade was cleared for the mechanical celebrity, crowds of people gathered around. The admiring looks and the children’s eyes were reward enough. These trolley lovers were ready to ride.  The shivering crowd listened to the announcements, speeches, choirs, and more speeches with only one thought,  “Where is the carriage with Santa?.” But one young fella had another thing on his mind–the trolley.

As he and his father came around the front of the trolley, he began his plea for a trolley ride.  The crowd inside the trolley who had fled there to escape the cold made a first ride seem doubtful.

That little guy who must have stood entirely 24 inches high began to wail his demand and jump up and down in a manner that can only be described as resembling a mexican jumping bean.  I knew he had a mother somewhere because he was bundled from head to foot. John, who was standing next to me instantly knew that this was a display that needed to be on our website.   He fumbled quickly for his cell camera as did I.  Too late.  The special moment was over almost as quickly as it had began as his dad pulled him away from the scene.

Perhaps it was for the good.  I can’t imagine that we will ever forget that magic moment.  It seems more special within me than outside of me.  It is stored in both our minds in a way more personal than pictures and  has fewer barriers to replays.  As with words, we are bound to  events we experience within a space that only the end can separate.  I promise, no more philosophy but the Sudan made me think.

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Men

November 17, 2010

Men can be so aggravating.

We are in the thick of planning for the Hendersonville Holiday Tree Lighting on Friday, November 26th.  A perfect angel of a business owner, Patty of Mikes on Main is sponsoring the trolley for three Fridays.  Why?  For no other reason in the world except she loves trolleys and loves her Main Street.  Amazing in a world so often defined by self interest.

I called John to tell him we were coming out this morning to look at Cinderella, take  measurements and discuss the decorations.  First words?  “Don’t put any tape on that trolley.  I don’t want anything to stick to that paint.”  Take a deep breath.

First of all, here is a little secret–I am 58 years old.  By this time in life you know what sticks and what doesn’t…in more ways than one.  Zen? Counting to ten is helpful.  Reflecting on the fact that the cutest trolley in the southeast is John’s pride and joy is also helpful.  So, instead of tape, I’ve decided to use glue!

Huckleberry Finn

November 7, 2010

It’s been quite a while since I have written.  Much has happened–joy, disappointment, success and failure.  One of our drivers told me some time back that the transportation business is a three legged stool:  drivers, mechanical parts, and customers.   Keeping all the gears  moving harmoniously  is not always easy.   Not that John and Co. doesn’t work hard at the mechanical end or that drivers aren’t professional or that customers are difficult.  It is just a human business and sometimes we humans get a little cranky and God knows! the machines are the prima donas.   However, looking back at the summer, I can honestly weigh “the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory” in victory’s corner.   The rushing days dull my memory but one special encounter stands out.

I had wanted to write about this soon after the experience so that the conversation wouldn’t fade its fresh gloss.  It was one of those surreal times when it seems like you have stepped into the scene of a movie. Someone has handed you a script and you are speaking the lines.

I picked up the phone one evening to hear a young boy’s voice  “Is this the trolley company?”  This very confident young man that I guessed to be about 9 or 10 called to tell me that the doors of the trolley were open and he was worried about that.  However  he hadn’t called to just end the conversation there.  At first I wondered how he had gotten our phone number when I realized it was on the back of the trolley.   I’m not sure whose cell phone he was using.

The trolley was parked at Eddy’s place for repairs and this young man had wandered over from a nearby neighborhood to take a look.  Trolleys are like that.  They have a special magnetism for children and children at heart.  I’m sure he must of climbed inside because which huckleberry finn could resist the temptation?  I told him that he mustn’t go underneath the trolley for safety sake.  (I do hope that he climbed on the back porch though.)

Our conversation ensued for some 20 minutes.  It was delightful to see how this precocious young man engineered the conversation to continue endlessly.  He asked me questions.  He asked more questions.  I asked far fewer because I didn’t want to pry.   He told me the family ups and downs.   I listened patiently.  I learned that he had a younger sister.  He told me proudly that he cooked for her.  His Dad must have been unemployed because he told me several times that his Dad was looking for a job.  Quite boldly he told me that his Dad could wash the trolley if it needed it.  Eventually  he asked me the question that might have been on his mind from the beginning, “Do you have a job I can do at the trolley company?”    Motherly instinct girded with a shield and helmet imagination rose to the need.

“I have a job you can do.  You know it worries me that our trolley is down there outside of a fence.   First, I would like you to close the doors…”  “Oh, I can do that.”  “…check and make sure the back door is closed”  “I can do that.” “…and then make sure that nobody and especially your sister crawls underneath it.”

The next day I took $5 and gave it to the mechanic.  “If you see a young boy who comes by asking about the trolley, give this to him.”

He never called again.