What to do while waiting on the train

By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now

OK, finish this sentence: You know you live in Newton when…

Now I’ll finish it—You know you live in Newton when you’ve been stopped by a train numerous times in downtown Newton. I decided to come up with some suggestions for people to use when they’re stopped at a train. We all have the choice to get angry when a train stops us or we can just say, “It is what it is” and use the time, wisely. I’ve noticed in my more than 25 years living here that trains, on average, take about five minutes.

Here are some things I’ve come up with you might be able to use in your wait for a train. Some of these are just tongue-in-cheek:

  1. If you have kids, count the number of train cars that go by. This can keep everyone entertained for the duration of the wait. It’s a good way to get the little ones to practice their counting.
  2. Bring a snack. Have some non-perishable food items in the vehicle so you can munch while you wait. Nuts, crackers and popcorn are great choices. That way, if you’re waiting on the 5 p.m. train and are hungry, you can help keep hunger from coming forth as anger.
  3. Have some magazines or other reading material in the vehicle. Learn to knit or crochet, while waiting, with a how-to book. If you’re backed up to the Creation Station, a local yarn store, you can pop out or your vehicle, buy some yarn and needles and go to town, leaving your car there and hopefully someone else at the wheel so they can move it in case traffic starts to budge.
  4. Sing along to the radio. I know this is something many of us do anyway as we’re tooling around Newton, but you can continue your duet as you watch the train cars with lots of graffiti go by.
  5. Teach your little dog new tricks. If you have a small dog in the car, you can teach your little hairy friend new tricks, like, “sit” or “stop the train,” with some of those snacks you have in the car. There are other tricks, like “shake” or “drive the car, while Mommy takes a train nap.”
  6. If there are only adults in the car, maybe do a quick “Chinese Fire Drill” around your vehicle. This probably isn’t that safe, so maybe don’t do it. Maybe if you’re alone in the car, do it alone. That will make everyone around you either laugh or be terrified. In case you don’t know what this is, it’s where everyone in the car gets out, runs around the car and gets back in the same door they got out of. I thought of mentioning this, but I didn’t want to sound racist, so I looked up the origin of the drill and this is what I found on todayifoundout.com: “In World War I, British soldiers came up with the phrase ‘Chinese Landing’ to describe a clumsy or bad landing. It should be noted that this wasn’t originally meant to imply Chinese citizens couldn’t land a plane well or anything of the sort; rather, it came from the fact that, in a bad landing, the soldiers would often use the phrase “one wing low” to described this. When said quickly, this somewhat resembled the Chinese language in sound to the British soldiers, hence, “Chinese Landing.” This later evolved into describing any clumsy or inept landing. Eventually, this spread to other phrases where anything done clumsily or ineptly was called a “Chinese X” where X is whatever the act was.” I do want to add that all Chinese people I’ve known are neither clumsy nor inept.
  7. Think about the things for which you’re grateful. You can even write them down and keep them in the car to read the next time you’re waiting on a train. This can help with your attitude and people in your life will be grateful.
  8. Look up some interesting recipes online and share them on Facebook so every. One. Of. Your. Friends. Can. See. Them. That way, you’ll have new recipes on your Facebook page, while irritating all your friends. It’s a win, win.
  9. Call someone you want to have a short conversation with. When the train ends, you can just say, “Oh, the train is done; time to go!”
  10. Learn sign language by having a sign language book in the car. That way, when you’re really pissed, you can inform the engineer just how you feel and he or she probably won’t know what you’re saying, especially if you smile, but you’ll able to vent.
  11. If it’s a nice day, roll down your window and breathe in some fresh air, unless, of course, you have the chance of breathing in fumes from the train or nearby cars. Maybe do a little meditating to relax.
  12. Pray for people who might need it, like the train engineer. Praying for people is spiritual and it’ll make you feel good.
  13. Ok, I’ll admit I stole this one from Sami Shah, a comedian: “(Mentally) prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse — which group you’ll join, who gets thrown at the zombies to buy your group time to escape.”
  14. Start your holiday present list. Think of those perfect gifts you can get others. You can do this any time of year. Keep the list in your car, away from prying eyes. Maybe your husband needs something that’ll keep him from snoring. Oh wait, that’s a gift for you. That’s OK. Maybe Grandpa can use an axe for the Zombie Apocalypse or some nice spices to cook his favorite Zombie Apocalypse dish, to add to his canned meat supply squirreled away in his basement. Other foods you can give Gramps, which are recommended on pbs.org for the Apocalypse, include nuts, peanut butter and bottled water. By the way, I Googled, “Zombie Apocalypse food,” and a number of things popped up, like, you can buy 4,320 servings of long-term emergency food supply on sale from $13,559.64 to $5,423.86. The page on wisefoodstorage.com says, “This package includes 24X120 serving buckets of emergency food entrees, as well as 12X20 serving buckets of our breakfasts.” It conveniently is packaged in four-serving pouches and comes in sturdy buckets. There’s cheesy lasagna, creamy pasta, chili mac and strawberry granola crunch (240 servings), to name a few. The web also includes foods, like Sam and stew, as foods to have on hand.
  15. Look the wisefoodstorage.com up online and have a good chuckle.

Wendy Nugent is the features editor at Newton Now. She can be reached at: wendy@harveycountynow.com or 316-281-7899.