"watch the triangular bolts at the axles, if you can count them, it should be safe"

So after a lot of wussy-ass dithering, I said fuck it. I grabbed a 594 bus to Tacoma. It took about ten billion years (or two hours, I lost track) and wound up…totally lost. After a half-hour of wandering around a train yard, looking for all intents and purposes like some asshole trying to commit a federal offense, I ran into a lone oogle. This kid couldn’t have been more than 19, aerodynamically-otter-style kinds of hairless, also lost, and scared shitless. So we joined forces and kept looking. After another half hour, the kid lost his nerve and bolted, leaving me alone. I kept going.

The main problem is that in a train yard, all the trains head out of the train yard in the same direction, an obvious point that never occurred to me. The next is that trains don’t necessarily head south or north (south to Portland, north to Vancouver), but east and west. The third is that I straight up had not a clue what I was doing. I got frustrated. Then angry. Then despondent. And so I came to a determined, stupid decision.

For the sake of journalism, I was going to grab the next train I possibly could.

I finally found a train moving, maybe east, I really had no clue other than using my iPhone’s compass. I stared at the little triangle axle thingee. I watched it clop around. I ran alongside the train, finding a grain car (so I’ve heard, they have concave insides good for sleeping in), looked for the porch on the back, and grabbed for a handle to pull myself up.

Have you ever felt the wind whistling through your hair, riding on a train at 60 mph, feeling totally free? No? Neither have I.

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