Thursday, May 8, 2008

Train Ride from Hell

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I made a promise to myself when I started blogging that I wouldn't swear. I criticize other people for doing it and it's my firm belief that we can say whatever needs to be said without profanity. However, I need to ask the question, is the word hell considered a swear word? If it is I'm going to ask for special dispensation for that word.

A week ago the farmer asked me to go downtown to Chicago to take care of some business at one of the banks. I was more than happy to do that for him but it was April 28th and it was snowing. What the hell?

And I'm going to have to use the word again and say, that was a train ride from hell.

It's probably not what you think. The train was very modern and comfortable and the ride into the city was just a little over an hour. What could go wrong? Here's what went wrong. I boarded the train and took a seat and just behind me was a young man in his mid-20's, about my son's age. He sat down facing me about three rows away. He had multiple piercings and those large ear plugs in his lobes and he probably had tattoos. That's not a problem, I don't judge people by that and anyway my own kids have tattoos and piercings. The only reason I mention it is because he was in a dress shirt with a tie draped around his neck and that seemed odd and out of place with all the piercings.

He told the conductor that he was on his way into the city to make a presentation and my guess is that he was going for a job interview or to pitch for some freelance work. It was apparent that he was nervous, very nervous. It took him at least five attempts to get the tie tied correctly. His artist's portfolio was propped up on the seat in front of him and he opened it and reviewed the material, closed it, opened it again. He repeated this several times. It was obvious he was practicing in his mind.

Here's where the hell comes in.

All of a sudden I felt all those years of mommy/nurturing messages welling up inside of me. I looked at the young man and silently repeated, "It's fine. You're prepared. You're gonna be great!"

What the hell? I thought all that stuff got flushed away in menopause. I guess not.

It was all I could do to keep myself planted in my seat. I felt really bad for this kid and I wanted to reassure him that everything would be OK.

Somehow I managed to stay seated, effectively avoiding humiliating myself in front of this young stranger. He was making his best effort to be an adult and I was about to call attention to the fact that he was struggling with a case of nerves. I leaned back, closed my eyes and let the moment pass. I've finished my job and so has his mother.

I can never know what happened next, but I'm sure this young man walked into the conference room, opened his portfolio, took a deep breath and heard a small voice in the back of his mind saying, "It's fine, you're going to be great!"

64 comments:

Vintage Indie said...

Wow, if that's a train ride from hell then I wouldn't mind taking it! You never know if that guy had a mother, you never know if he had anyone. You could have been "it", what a blessing to have been bold enough to encourage him, kindness goes a long way ecspecially from a stranger. It could have went in one ear and out the other if it was anyone else.

lifeinredshoes said...

OK, I'm getting a little misty here.I realy suck at letting go. My husband and I have been in therapy with #2 all because we hold on way to tight. This could explain why #1 is still living at home at the age of 27. I think all of us Mommy's just need to hold hands and chant WE CAN DO THIS. And together, we can.PS, I don't think hell is swearing, shit either. Just not pretty, the shit word that is.

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Oh Yes! It all comes back like a flood gate has been opened! All those little things I said to my boys, it's like the credits of a movie that are rolling so fast you can barely fix on one to actually read it! I have become more outgoing as I age (with age comes more boldness?) and will sometimes actually speak out loud to a struggling stranger with motherly words of encouragement. It has always been completely accepted, never turned down, and I feel like I have made a wonderful proclamation for all empty nest mothers in the world. It's part of us and ALWAYS will be!
Sherry

Marue said...

How many times have I wanted to say something similar to a complete stranger and kept my mouth shut? Then felt guilty because I didn't. You never know, you might have made their day.

Kari & Kijsa said...

We were talking about the silence in the house after kids left for the bus this morning...we are still on the job, but those little chickies are getting closer and closer to the edge of the nest!!!
Great post!

blessings,
kari & kijsa

BittersweetPunkin said...

This was a lovely post....

Thanks Suzanne ..for lifting my spirits....I am catching up after taking a few days off and I always enjoy reading your posts...you have so much sass and vinegar and you make me LAUGH!!
Hugs,
Robin

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Awww, you're a sweetheart and I don't imagine that he would've minded actually hearing those words from you. Sometimes we do stand in...a little prayer...an encouraging word...it's a good thing. ;>

And another thing, a mother's job is never done; it just evolves.

Arlene said...

I thought too that when the kids were out on their own that our job as parents would be over. That. is. wrong. My 'baby' is 35 and I still fret over her and her older brother as well as their spouses. So you see, you ADD to your so-called empty nest! As for the young man on the train, I probably would have done the same as you but would have regretted it afterwards. I am finally starting to reach out more to others. If they aren't interested, then it is their call. At least I won't have any regrets (unless I get punched for the effort).

I am a late-comer to your blog and I used to live 15 miles from anywhere with my dh and kids. As a kid I grew up 30 miles from anywhere! I can so relate to your comments about that! Now I live in a big town, population 1,900! SA-LUTE!

Rue said...

Well, for one thing Hell is for sure not a curse word in my book, I've been known to say... um ... worse ;)

I have issues letting go too. My son announced that he thought it would be a good idea to move out right after high school and rent an apartment for his first year of college and I immediately emailed him the You're gonna miss this video by Trace Adkins.

Next came a barage of emails and phone calls from family members and friends. He's not going anywhere for another year now ;) Yes I'm a little evil, but he's just not ready and neither am I.

Oh and I would love to have a flooring Diva :)

rue

Suzanne said...

Indie - I know. I've mentored and sheltered some of those kids in my own home. I did learn some very unexpected lessons from those experiences. I'll talk more about them later. Let's just say that not everything can be cured by throwing enough love at it.

Red Shoes - I agree. We should start a chain, holding hands and encouraging each other. I'm really glad that you care enough to seek help in your relationships. It's very important. I'm surprised #2 would go. We had to drag mine. Yeah, that "s" word isn't pretty. I've been known to through it around though!

Sherry - What a perfect way to explain it - "credits of a movie rolling fast". I've been very outgoing in the past. I've never had anyone object either. I love the though to making a proclamation for empty nesters. We should actually write one..."I reserve the right, blah, blah, blah."

Marue - Yes, I really struggled over this one. I usually just charge forward.

K & K - You still have little one I know. I'm so glad that you can still relate and maybe get a warning that this stuff will be coming.

Punkin - I know your name is really Robin, but I love Punkin because it was the Farmer's nickname for our daughter. I'm glad you stop by. Hmmmm, with sass and vinegar would could probably make a good salad!

Vee - I really, really needed to hear your words today. I guess I must be standing "in between". It feels like it's over, that parenting thing, but like you said we're actually just entering a new phase. Phew, I was getting worried!!

Arlene - I'm so glad you found my blog. I don't know how, but however you got here, it's a good thing. There's always room for more and perhaps I can find you a job on the Peep list. HA. Yes, living "out there" is fun. I'm pretty close to just about anything you could think of. I just like to keep it at arm's length.

Rue - Oh yes, I agree. Freshman year of college is probably not the time to be living in an apt. away from home. At least not my kids. They needed to mature a bit more first.

To all who have read this post. Normally I would have gotten up an spoken to this young man. But after observing him for awhile I determined that he was doing some really good work in terms of coming to grips with his attack of nerves. I didn't want to call attention to that fact because I felt he would be more upset by the thought that his nervousness showed. It would freak me out. Oh no.....I EVEN LOOK NERVOUS....sort of thing.

Thanks everyone for taking time to visit, to read and to comment.

Suzanne

jill said...

Hell no, hell isn't profanity. It's just the name of a place that is well...hellish! You know, like menopause!
The train is always fun and exciting! How lucky we are to be able to take excursions by train to the big windy city. That is something I will never take for granted and only $5. on the weekend! Sweet!
Your love for humanity is endearing!
Big hugz! Jill

Kelly said...

oh dear, I'm so glad my occasional potty mouth hasn't driven you away!

My boy is turning 16 this year and it's just surreal. I bite my tongue more often now and just watch...wait to see it unfold, as it always does in time. Such a strange time...and having an almost 5-year old is pretty whackadoo too... as I like to say, I get it coming and going.

C.C. said...

I love this post...you give voice to what all us moms of young adults go through. Letting go and hating every minute of it.

Suzanne said...

Jill - Ha, you make me laugh. I've seen that your daughter has featured her "flooring diva" mom on her website. So awesome. That granddaughter of yours is a beauty.

Kelly - Oh no my dear, not to worry. The only reason that I've made the "no swear" rule is that I DO SWEAR in real life and it sometimes gets out of control. I just wanted to keep myself in a different place online.

C.C. - Honestly, I felt like my heart was being wrenched from my chest. I felt like I needed a stiff drink when I got home!

Just Plain Jane said...

Oh, my dears, we're never, ever through mothering, even if it all stays in our heads. I read somewhere that a mother can only be as happy as her least happy child and I think that's the truth. My "little" ones are now 46, 48 and 51.

I wish I could know how the young man's presentation worked out.

Carry on.

Shannon said...

I guess you just never stop being a mother.
Hell...it's borderline in my mind. I say it once in awhile, and I never use any other swear words.

Givinya De Elba said...

I think that's really sweet. What a lovely story. (I'm sure you wouldn't have done any harm saying something to him, but you had to go with your gut instinct.)

Tricia said...

It takes a lifetime to create that internal mommy dialog and I don't think it ever goes away. One day, if we're fortunate, we'll get to use it with grandchildren.

Nan said...

What a tender moment

EmBee said...

Oh, I LOVE THIS!
Once a Mom, always a Mom.
I'm hoping the kid was a success too!
:-D

Vicki said...

Wow, I don't think I could have resisited. I'm a mother hen like that.

Angie said...

That was so sweet of you! I'm sure he appreciated it when it came time for the big presentation!

Shelley said...

Wow...that was really special!! You brought a tear to the eye of this momma!! I wish that you had spoken up...it might have been just what he needed.
Blessings~
Shelley

my2boyz said...

Yeah, I so would have been "Take a few deep breath before you go in, smile and make sure your grip is firm when you shake their hand and why don't you show me your work, I would love to see it" SO good for you for staying in your seat.

Kat said...

First of all...I love to read blogs where the author comments back!

And you know...I don't think that mothering instinct goes away. I'm always telling my girls that will be my babies forever...even when they are old and gray...

Ashley said...

That is really sweet. I'm sure he felt the sentiments. One can always feel good vibes and vice versa.

-Bridget said...

I probably would have blurted it out and looked like a fool. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut. Such a sweet post.

And no, hell is not a swear word, it is a destination. I know because I've been there and back several times over the past week.

Jenni said...

I love this story. I probably would have felt the same way and I only have small children. But I tend to tell strangers what I am thinking (At least when it is nice).

Jen said...

Once a mom alway a mom. I have only been doing it a short time, it looks like a mothers job is never done. I think on some level, he heard you and needed that extra enouragement. Way to go!

Rhea said...

What a sweet thing to do! I agree, once a mom, always a mom, it's hard to shut off those pesky mom mannerisms and concerns. I'd mother the whole world if I could.

Amy said...

How sweet! I cant imagine life with my children grown up, but I know that day will come and I am sure I will someday face the same situation!

Karen said...

You never lose the 'Mum' thing. It sort of stands at ease for a couple of years, after they finally leave home. Then it stands at attention again, once the grandkids start arriving...

Karen said...

My mom passed away 3 months after I was newly married. I miss her, she was my best friend. I thank God for all of the older women He has brought into my life for correction, support, advice etc.
I think it was nice of you to think that way, and also strong of you to not say something. To have the insight that He is an adult stranger that might've not wanted to hear your opinion.

Jessica said...

WOW... I don't think I could call that a train ride from hell but more of a mommy moment b.c *U* still are a mommy. that title will never cease to change. One day I'll be in your shoes, though.

Cray and Bickford Family said...

Oh no, not a train ride from hell. It shows what a caring person you are. Don't you wish that one day someone will do that for your kids?

Jennifer said...

The mommy in us never leaves!

Tausha said...

If I was on a train and i was scared-I would hope that someone wouldn't judge me and say that I was going to be great!!
You never know maybe he really misses his mom or never had one-and he really appreciated the total stranger telling him that he was going to be great.
I am sure that the blessing that you got for helping him out cancelled out the fact that used a
"swear" word. :)

Nichole Jolene said...

rode over here from SITS~did you really post this at 440am? i love you! i'm not alone in my late night blogging. of course, i guess you could be an early morning blogger in the which case, that's crazy making! enjoyed the story

Sherri said...

You know sometimes people do need to hear a little motherly advice. Many times as an adult I like hearing motherly advice from people that are not my mother.

And then we all know the kids that need a little extra mothering. You know the ones at the park with boggery noses caked with sand or the ones that run around in poppy diapers all day.

Amy said...

I know that young fella was greatful for your kind words of comfort. Anyone would/should be.

Hell is not a bad word unless you use it as one..... it's ok!

Mama Dawg said...

I wish I had your restraint with cuss words but, quite frankly, I don't. Sometimes those words just need to be said for emphasis. At least for me!

I loved this post. Your writing is amazing. I could actually picture this scene in my head.

Cristin said...

Now I want to know how he did!!!

Oh...I'm a total potty mouth.... as are my parents, and their parents...just keeping up the family tradition...

Kendrawolf said...

Good for you! I'm glad you use your words instead of swearing... I wish my hubby would learn that. As for the mothering feelings, I know what you mean. It's so hard to turn them off when the kids are gone.

At Home Redesigns said...

So nice of you. I'm sure he caught your good vibe.

Me said...

Don't you just wish you know how that story ended!

Mrs. R said...

This post had me so touched. Once you become a mom, you almost feel like your are a universal mom.

I love this one!

Mommy Meryl said...

I'm sure he got your message - that is the amazing things about mommmies! We often hold it in - but they can read our minds! :-) And if they can say is on TV its not a curse word! :-0

Jen said...

I think this is a sweet story. I bet he did appreciate your comment. Like other commenters have said, you never know how little things you do affect others.

Melissa said...

My mom, myself, and hopefully my children would have and will do the same thing. God may have place you there for that very reason! Who knows? He may use that experience for future presentations! Good job, mom! I'm proud of you!

Kimberly said...

Everyone needs a mom's voice now and then. I'm a young professional, unmarried, and usually live really far from my mom. Every once in a while its nice to know that other people can be stand-in moms when I need it most! I'm sure your silent hopes for him went a long way!

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

Beautiful post, SITS Sista! I actually got kind of lost in it. (May be just the red-eye flight I took last night, but I'm giving you the credit! :)

Angela said...

Oh, that is so sweet...I struggled with the same thing today when I was at the pool and a group of 10-11 year olds came in. There was one tall, skinny girl who towered at least 9 inches (seriously) above her peers. I could tell she was self-conscious--even though she was just beautiful, all legs. I wrestled with whether I should say something to her. I was there once towering above all my pals...sometimes I still do. I noticed no one hanging with her so I finally decided to risk seeming like a freak, went up to her, and said, "From one tall girl to another, you are just beautiful. Being tall is awesome. You will especially love it when you are a grown up." She flashed me the biggest smile full of braces and graciously said thank you. Sometimes you never know what good it does to just pass along a little kindness.

I've enjoyed your blog today!

Lisa@BlessedwithGrace said...

Hey, I'm a SITS sista. This is a great post and story. You must really be a great mom to your kids to have felt the way in which you did. Hopefully he has a mom who cares just as much.

Michelle said...

Ahhh, Metra into the city. It's always a joy.

So sweet that you wanted to mother that boy. Errr man. Now I want to know what he was presenting and how it went.

Judy Haley said...

oh how I wish the world was filled with more people who see someone very unlike them and, whether silently or not, wish them well.

thank you

Scary Mommy said...

So sweet! I bet you did help him :)

Sunshine said...

You. Are. Wonderful.

I've learned so much.

Happy SITS day!

Cara Starr said...

I'm not PMSing, I'm not pregnant, (or at least I'D BETTER NOT BE!) so why did this story make me well up? So sweet of you to say what you did. You probably helped him more than you know. :)

Gina said...

Letting them go? Never a problem (well, maybe for a minute.. but it passes..).
Feeling maternal toward rough-looking guys in dress shirts and ties who are trying to make it out in this big, bad world- I'm all over that!!
I hope you at least gave him an encouraging smile and a wink.
;-)
I don't like to swear, either- and in fact, do not.
However, regarding the word "shit" from a previous commentor...
Did you know that word originated from when manure was being transported on ships??
It would be labeled S.H.I.T.
Ship High In Transit.
and no, I'm not Ship High In Transitting you either!!

Kris said...

Your post was so sweet and made me teary eyed. How many times do I do with with my own children (who are far from leaving the nest yet!) but you dear lady, I'm sure even your silent encouragement got through to him.

AFRo said...

Awe. That was sweet of you to automatically want to encourage him, but you should have said it to him... on the way out or something.

Monogramchick said...

Definately not swearing and what a sweet, sweet train ride...funny how whe we take the time to watch people what we'll see.

Kristinia - Loving Heart Mommy

said...

Found you from SITS:

Such a heartfelt post, I know I dread when it comes to the time to let my children go.. I'm sure thats aways away though... but time does fly

Michele said...

What a sweet post! I am currently in the trenches of parenthood with little, little girls. I love to read posts from people who have been there, done that. What a lucky young man to have sat opposite you that day!