I’m about to admit a few of my numerous flaws. One is that I’m impatient. One is that I have little tolerance for stupidity. Another is that I’m a forthright kind of gal, which is a diplomatic way of saying I’m blunt. I’ve never really seen the point in sweeping issues under a rug, where they can breed with the dust bunnies and make festering, hybrid monster problems that poison the psyche. So naturally, folks who like to complain a lot are drawn to me, like I’m the Dark Side version of Dear Abby. I can’t really blame them. Several of my friendships were initially based on the fact that I’m almost always willing to help someone be mad about something, so it’s a problem of my own construction. But even I’m about to throw up my hands and yell “Uncle!” because the level of train complaints in our town is nearing critical mass.
So let’s try an experiment, shall we, Claremore? Let’s all try some entertrainment and see if we can derail the Complain Train before it pulls into Dysfunction Junction.
“Entertrainment” is what I do when I’m inevitably stuck waiting on a train to pass. Due to my previously admitted flaw of impatience, I had to institute entertrainment as a zen-like activity to keep myself from stroking out in my car and causing an even longer delay for the folks behind me. I’ve been entertraining myself for my entire 12 years of residence here, and recently I was inspired by Brandon Irby over at CIEDA and the folks at moreClaremore.com to not only keep it up, but to look for new forms of entertrainment. (If you missed it, Brandon started a photo campaign called #EmbracetheTrain awhile back asking folks to send photos of how they pass the time waiting on trains to get out of the way – it was funny and inspiring and oh-so-refreshing, like a Coca-Cola out of a glass bottle on a really hot day. Winner pictured above!)
Entertrainment can be anything really. Anything to get your mind off the fact that the train is crawling by, or that you could have beaten the signal if the driver in front of you hadn’t cut you off. There are the obligatory forms of entertrainment, like checking Facebook or returning a text (and you’re not doing those things while you’re actually driving, because that would be dangerous and negligent, right?). But that’s too banal for me, too boring, too obvious. Not to mention there’s only so much candy crushing one human soul can take. I carry my kindle, quite literally, everywhere. His name is Thom. If the wait is shaping up to be a particularly long one, I get out trusty ol’ Thom and we enjoy a few pages together. If the offspring are with me, we flip through the songs on my thumb drive until we find one we can all belt out like we’re Bette Midler and then we do it, making faces and serenading neighboring cars all the while. Or my son and I will engage in a rousing game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock.
I don’t get to do enough daydreaming, so every time I’m stuck at the crossing on Archer in front of Muns Music, I entertrain the daydream that I’m a kick-ass drummer like Buddy Rich or John Bonham. I’m a mom to two kids under ten, so having two seconds in a row of unbroken silence is rare. Sometimes my entertrainment is nothing more than sitting quietly in my car, not really thinking of anything at all. What a great break that can be! One of my very favorite forms of entertrainment is personalized license plates that require decoding to understand. It’s like the universe handing me a quirky little brainteaser. And the holy grail of entertrainment: being stuck next to someone you know and enjoying a half-shouted chat through rolled-down car windows.
Train time is also a perfect time for a little light housekeeping. Got a straw wrapper in your floorboard, wadded up and driving you nuts with its glaring whiteness on your mat? Now’s the time to pick it up! Once I even got really adventurous and cleaned out my whole purse. Too hot in that jacket you put on at home? Take it off! Been meaning to take a selfie of your new haircut? Now’s your chance, probably with time to do a little photo editing before making it a profile picture. I sprang forward the clock in my car on Monday morning while waiting on a train. I’ve exercised in my car, believe it or not. Buns of steel, indeed! I know folks who keep Sudoku and crossword puzzle books in the car. I know a lady who keeps a knitting project in the car. The hubs spends his train time inspecting the surrounding terrain, scrutinizing potential dirt bike jumps. That’s the beauty of entertrainment – it can be literally whatever you can think of that you can do for 2-5 minutes in your car.
So, next time you’re stuck waiting on a train (and we all know it won’t be long until you are), think of trying a little entertrainment to pass the time. It sure beats sitting there, seething and marinating in your own annoyance. I bet your blood pressure will thank you. And remember, if you can’t think of any other kind of entertrainment, you can always take the immortal advice of Lady Hillingdon in her 1912 journal entry: when you hear it coming, just close your eyes and think of England.
-by Julie Jones