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Train Observations

I saw something unusual boarding the train this morning. An apparently homeless girl boarding in Macomb. Some of my friends may not think this is unusual but the route I ride goes from rural college town to rural manufacturing town. So I wonder why she would have been there in the first place. As far as I know the train station is open, although unstaffed, all night and it appeared she may have slept there and perhaps got up and went outside when the ticket clerk arrived at 6:15 am. When I got there at 6:30 am, she was outside wearing what looked like pajama pants, a wife beater t-shirt with no bra and no socks or shoes. She had a canvas knapsack sort of bag with her. Her hair was greasy and stringy. She'd have been a really pretty girl if she was a bit cleaner. I'd say she was in her late teens to early 20's. I was the only other one standing out on the platform that early. I glanced over at her curiously and she looked back with the sort of look that says "Don't fuck with me!" So I just smiled and went back to watching her without appearing to stare.

About 6:50 am, she walked over to the tracks and blew her nose on them. You know the disgusting kind of hold your finger over one nostril and blow hard kind of blow. Then she wiped her nose on a torn and dirty bandana. She reached into her bag and took out a pair of holey socks and grabbed some sandals that had seen kinder years and went back inside. Brave girl leaving her canvas bag outside. Guess she figured the look she had given me was enough to keep me away or maybe she thought I'd guard it for her. I cringed inwardly at the reception she'd probably get inside from the well dressed college kids and baseball fans heading up to Chicago for the Cubs/Mets game. Since I frequently sleep in rest areas and "shower" in ice cold rest area hydrants, I've seen the look people give you when they know you are cleaning up in a public restroom.

The train came on time at 7 am. I didn't see her come back out so I figured she was not riding the train, just using the facilities. In my younger years, I might have forewent the train ride and offered her a ride somewhere and a meal. These days, I'm a little more cautious about who I give rides to though I'd have bought her a meal if I could have figured out a way to approach her. I was one of the first ones on the train and found a nice double right up front. When I had a chance to glance out the window, I noticed homeless girl had come out and grabbed her stuff and got in the back of line for the train. Then she disappeared as she got on and I didn't see her again. I assumed she went to the car in front of us and as I don't often get up to go to the cafe car, I didn't see her for the whole trip up to Plano. I just sat and read my book and napped a bit.

When the train was coming into the Plano station, I got up with my bags and went to stand with the conductor in the vestibule. I looked forward into the next car and there was homeless girl. She stared back at me, not the defensive look from earlier. Sort of longing depressed look. She had cleaned up her face and combed her hair and looked much prettier. Still wearing the pajama bottoms though. I can't imagine that would be a fun way to travel. I'd have love to have known her story. How she got to Macomb and where she was going afterwards.

When I got off the train on the platform, I looked back up to see if I could see her. She was looking forlornly out the window at the clear blue Illinois sky. She never even looked down at me, but I watched her until the train moved past me and I could see her no longer. I hope she gets where she's going OK.




( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 22nd, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
What a lovely and sad story. I know the feeling. Sometimes I wonder how things would have been if... If the people you try and help in good faith never bit back. How lovely the world would be. I gave a homeless vet my sandwich at the VA while my Dad was there. He made me fell good about it. (He only said thank you once and just left it at that.)

Apr. 22nd, 2008 03:21 am (UTC)
Good of you. You've got a good soul.

Apr. 22nd, 2008 02:06 am (UTC)
Poor thing. I hope she's ok.
Apr. 22nd, 2008 03:20 am (UTC)
Me too.

Apr. 22nd, 2008 04:00 am (UTC)
Very well written. I hope things get better for her.
Apr. 22nd, 2008 04:58 am (UTC)
Me too though I doubt I'll ever see her again to know.

Apr. 22nd, 2008 04:28 am (UTC)
Use to see a lot of those in KM back when the trains actually stopped there. Maybe she's just trying to get from point A to B or maybe she's paying a high cost of low living.


Apr. 22nd, 2008 04:59 am (UTC)
I've seen lots of transient folks evrerywhere I've travelled. But mostly they stay to the well travelled routes. This would be like see a homeless person in Banner Elk or someplace like that.

Apr. 24th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC)
There's a homeless girl around here too. They call her Mattie because her super long hair is matted together in one big knot. The last we saw her, her pants she wore were so old and worn, they were held together with nothing but safety pins.. you could see through them. She wore a long dirty shirt to cover up her butt etc.. I felt so bad, Jim and I would see her walking the streets. One day I went through my closet and took out some clothes. I tried to give them to her with some money to buy herself something to eat. She wouldn't take them. Sigh..

We don't see her anymore either. I hope your homeless girl is alright and that she got where she was going ok.
Apr. 24th, 2008 04:20 am (UTC)
Yeah, me too. I no some are homeless by choice and travel from place to place in different seasons. Doesn't make it any less sad.

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )