Country traffic jams
Damphewmore Acres, Kan.
Let’s talk about railroads. Better yet, let’s talk about one railroad in particular — the Burlington Northern Santa Fe — which has two tracks that cross Chase County.
First, let me acknowledge the BNSF is the biggest and most significant property taxpayer in Chase County. Second, let me also acknowledge the BNSF and its employees are major players in the general economy. For the contributions of BNSF to the county, I, as a taxpayer, am most grateful.
But, my accolades to the BNSF end there. The way the BNSF operates day-to-day in the county is a pain in the butt, to put it plainly. It seems to go out of its way to “dis” the citizens of the county — disappoint, discomfort, disenchant, dishearten, disillusion, dismiss and dissatisfy. If there is a way to make the citizens of the county mad, the BNSF not only finds it, but trumps, it.
Scarcely a day goes by that the BNSF doesn’t inconvenience some major portion of the county — usually by repeatedly blocking crucial road and highway crossings.
For example, recently I headed to the Saffordville Old Boars’ Breakfast Club at 6:20 a.m. to help prepare and cook breakfast. When I arrived at the Saffordville BNSF crossing, sure enuf, there sat a long train. I knew from past experience that the train most likely wouldn’t move for an interminable period, so I backtracked 7 miles to find another place to cross the tracks and get to the schoolhouse.
Folks, that danged train did not move until 10 minutes to 8 o’clock — at least a hour and a half. Meanwhile, folks trying to get to breakfast were lined up. Several gave up and went home. Folks trying to get to work were blocked, too.
Another vexing BNSF trait is for a train to block a road with only one or two cars across the road. All the engineers on the trains need to do is move forward or backward less than 100 feet to clear the tracks.
South of Cottonwood Falls, trains often interfere with cattle loading/unloading at “The Pens.”
I’ve a good friend who is often blocked from leaving his ranch for hours at a time by a BNSF train idling on the track.
Now, I admit I don’t know a danged thing about running a profitable train company, but I do know something about good public relations and the BNSF fails with an “F” grade most days in Chase County. It seems to me as if it would be just as easy for the BNSF to do things right in the county as to do things wrong. I just don’t think any effort is made by the company to operate harmoniously in the county. In short, it doesn’t care if folks are miffed.
Someday, a BNSF train will be blocking a track and some person in the county with an emergency health or accident problem will be unable to get needed care in time. It needn’t happen.
My good buddy, ol’ Mocephus, is unable to plant a garden this spring, so I volunteered to plant four short rows of potatoes for him. We chose a spot about 4×8 feet where he’d discontinued a portion of his asparagus patch.
I planted the same potatoes for him as I planted for myself, only a day later. My spuds quickly emerged through all the rain and muck. But, Mo’s spuds never came up. Weeks went by. Still nuthin’.
One morning we were enjoying coffee at his home and tried to figure out why his spuds failed to emerge, while mine were thriving. I speculated that perhaps potatoes have some sort of aversion to growing next to asparagus, like some virus in the soil.
That’s when Mo slapped his kitchen table and said, “I bet I know what the problem is — salt.”
Then he explained that for years he’d kept the weeds down in his asparagus patch by sprinkling the patch with plain ol’ ice cream salt.
We agreed that was undoubtedly the problem. Spuds and salt only go together with a plate and a palate, not in a garden.
Here’s a political funny I can’t resist passing along. The U.S. finally solved the problem of a wall along its southern border. It threatened to start deporting congress persons to Mexico. Mexico started building the border wall the next day.
Overheard at the coffee shop: “Our roads are so bumpy that the county has started putting up signs that say, “Rough Roads. Proceed with caution. Fasten bra straps. Remove dentures.”
Also, overheard at the coffee shop from the distaff side of the table: “I got called ‘pretty’ today. Well, actually I got called ‘pretty annoying,’ but I only focus on the positive things.”
As I get older and older, I’ve noticed one thing. When I was younger, when I dropped something, I just bent over and picked it up. Never gave it a second thought.
This morning while I was hoeing in the garden my ballpoint pen dropped out of my pocket. I stared at it for a bit laying there in the dirt and contemplated if I actually needed it enuf to bend and pick up up.
I was wise enuf to pick it up. I called it “back exercise.” Have a good ‘un. ❖
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