I examine my reflection in the dusty cracked mirror of the dingy diner’s restroom, in the middle of nowhere, and the first thing that catches my attention are the bags beneath my eyes. Bags planted there by too many sleepless nights, too many nights, tossing, turning, scheming, and going over, and over things that might have been, instead of the way they are.
My gaze shifts downward, downward, to the rumpled suit coat, faintly stained with egg yolks, splotches of red catchup, dabs of yellow mustard from lasts night’s burger and fries, eaten with one hand and the other on the wheel of my twenty-year-old blue ford, that now has more rust than metal, still held together by who knows what. The faded blue tie, frayed at the edges, displaying its own memories of past meals, gravy from Detroit, spaghetti sauce from Chicago, and pulled pork sauce from Toronto.
An all too real record of my constant failures, my constant lack of ever being able to hold onto a job, a constant fading of hope, that ebbs with each new stain, with each city or town I stay in or travel through. The brown pants that have more wrinkles than a hundred-year-old person are next on my list to be disgusted with. At last, my shoes come into view of my weary blood shot eyes.
The question now arises, what has become of me, what have I done to become this, to deserve this cruel, harsh fate. A thought steals into my mind, unbidden, un asked for, unwanted, “Why bother going for this interview? Even if you do get the job, you won’t hold onto it, or the company will fold up within six months.”
It seems that the sad, sad story of my life is about to be repeated once more. One more failure, one more moment of despair to be chalked up on the blackboard of life. I turn to go, and that is when I hear it, away of in the distance, wailing wild and free, calling, calling to me once more, and the days of my youth, and the poems of my youth are brought forward into my memory once more. My heartbeat quickens, my breath grows deeper, my shoulders square, and as hope once more surges through me, I recite the poem that always dispelled my gloom.
In the morning when I arose
weary from a night without rest
I heard a train whistle echoing,
and something wild
surged with in my breast.
It was like the eagle’s cry
as on the wind he drifts.
From my heart, and from my mind
a heavy weight did lift.
No more for me the nine to five.
The days of soul filled pain.
Freedom was given back to me,
by the wailing whistle of a distant train