Dan asked if I could work a couple days for him so he could go to the Viet Nam Helicopter Crewmember's Association meeting and dinner.
I hate working days.
But I want Dan to go enjoy his meeting. Dan is ALWAYS there for me when I need time off, so I've gotta be there for him too.
So Friday night I set my alarm for 5 A.M..
I'm normally beginning to think about hitting the sack then.
No real person is just getting out of bed at 5 A.M..
I hit the hay at 9 P.M., grabbed my copy of "Proficient Motorcycling", read a chapter, then rolled over. Sleep came quickly.
My eyes are wide open. I squint them to clear my vision and look at the face of the clock/radio...
2:20, and I'm wide awake.
I turn to lay on my back and take a deep breath. A storm is supposed to arrive just about the time I leave for work. I listen for the sounds of thunder.
We've talked about how bad my job has been for my hearing. Flying helos over 43 years has destroyed my high-frequency reception. I can no longer hear the dog whine.
Or certain sounds my cell phone makes.
Or Sara Jean talking, sometimes. (Often.)
But I CAN hear the drumbeat of an approaching helicopter.
Or the sound of distant thunder.
Or the sound of a big radial engine.
Or the similar sound of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Or... the sound of a diesel locomotive on the tracks half a mile from our house.
I can hear the low, quiet hum of Sara Jean almost snoring as she peacefully sleeps. But over that comforting sound I hear, almost feel, the sound of huge pistons compressing and igniting diesel fuel.
How far away is it?
How long before I hear the train whistle blow as the train approaches the intersection where our road crosses the tracks?
Before 5 A.M. the engineers cheat when they blow their horns, God bless 'em.
As they approach an intersection they are supposed to blow LOOONNNNG, LOOONNNNG, SHORT, and then as they enter and go through the intersection, another LOOOOOOONNNNGGGG blast.
(It's the letter "Q" in Morse Code, but I don't think that has anything to do with anything.)
Maybe BZ or some other railroad fan can give us a clue?
I listen for what seems like ten minutes before I hear the whistle, and this engineer is a good neighbor...
There is a long row of houses right next to the tracks at this intersection, so his signal is about 1/3 the volume it will be in mid-day. It makes ya smile to think these guys are thinking of folks in bed in those homes.
What an odd feeling...
I really should be sleeping, but I'm not discontent... comfortably lying in my bed listening to someone at work, being considerate of his neighbors.
I hear two more trains pass. They too cheat on the volume of their horns as they go through the intersection.
Of course I don't remember going back to sleep.
What I DO remember is the alarm going off at 5 A.M..
I HATE working days!
(I hope you had a great time at the VHCMA dinner, Dan! )