Some things one must see to believe

By Bob Huber: Humor Columnist

Before sunup each day, an east-west train rumbles through town while everyone sleeps. The engineer pulls a rhythmic whistle cord on the east side of town, and he doesn’t stop until he breaks out on the west side.

By the time the last car chugs by the canning factory, everyone in town is awake, ready to face another day. But they don’t know what woke them up. They’re unaware that they’ve been roused by train whistles.

Whenever I’ve mentioned this unique citywide alarm clock, I’m not believed. No one heard any train whistles. They think they just woke up early like roosters. Or maybe cranky old men. Folks just wake up early here, they say.

So I began to worry about my lucidity. One day I even walked over to the tracks that run by the local college to make sure trains went by there.

And sure enough, I saw a genuine train. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone.

I should have saved my breath. When I explained why they woke early each day, they looked sideways at me. Some even took a step backward as though I might be dangerous. I had to return to the tracks the next day to make sure I was right.

But I refused to be intimidated. I walked again early one morning and stood by the tracks. As the train came by, I shouted, “Where’d you come from?” The engineer pointed over his shoulder. I didn’t ask where he was going.

Instead, I went home and filed my research under “Strange Events Folks Won’t Accept.” You know what I’m talking about. Take for instance when someone always answers if you dial a wrong number. Sometimes they’re quite vocal.

Like the trains, folks didn’t believe me when I told them about wrong numbers, even when I have a conversation like this:

“Is this Sears?”

“Don’t know any Sears. Know a Myers though. Mean devil. Lives on the Bethel Highway. Wups his cows.”

“What?”

“With a Mexican wup — you know, one of them long-tailed rawhide wups with little bitty knots on the end.”

“That’s terrible.”

“I always thought so. Don’t think the cows much cared for it either. But one time that wup came back wrong and tore a chunk off his ear lobe. Embarrassed him. Took to wearing his hat down low on that side.”

“He still around?”

“Meaner since his lobe job. You see a fellow in overalls, a Mexican wup in his hand and his hat hung low over one side, you’d best cross the road.”

“I appreciate the warning.”

“Good tenor though. You ever have need of a strong tenor, Myers will do. Won’t sing in church though, because he won’t take his hat off. You can’t have everything, I guess.”

Still, everyone remains doubtful when I mention trains. I think they’re too busy sitting by their phones, waiting for me to call them by mistake.

Or they may be like my wife, Marilyn, used to be. One day I told her,

“Here comes another noisy pickup down our street. Don’t they irritate you?”

“Pickup?” she said, her face blank. “What pickup?”