A train trip to remember
Joyce-Anne Locking, Mus'77, has a regular column in her local newspaper, The Orillia Packet & Times. You can read her work at www.orilliapacket.com. In one of her recent articles, she recalls a memorable train trip she had as a Queen's student.
As university students working in a coffee shop for the summer, we were each automatically entered in the "Strawberry Contest".
The object of the marketing incentive was to sell the most strawberries during the month of June. The winner would be treated to a two-night, expenses paid stay at any location of the same hotel chain we worked for. Two of my best friends tied for first and won the contest. They were generous enough to ask me to come along for the trip. Of course, I would pay any extra charges incurred as the third person. As soon as our summer jobs ended, and only a few days before the third year of university began, we set out on our holiday journey from Kingston to Montreal. Our three-day trip began on a train that was so noisy and crowded we couldn't find seats together. We really wanted to talk over our plans so as soon as the conductor took our tickets we moved to another car of the train.
We found an empty car at the rear of the train. Finally we had a place where we could visit and discuss our plans. The conversation kept us all so occupied that we barely noticed when the train stopped and started along the way. All of a sudden one of the girls looked up to see the clear, blue sky and miles of empty track stretching into the distance beyond the front door of our train car. "The train has left us behind!" she shrieked. We all looked up and laughed and laughed. Then we panicked.
Parked on a sidetrack at a tiny out of the way station in the middle of nowhere we were soon discovered by the yard crew and guided to the warmth of the little station house. There, the station master kindly called an express train to pick up, what he referred to as, his three strays. We did, however, have to wait quite some time before he went outside and waved a red flag at the approaching fast-moving train. The feeling of being stranded was a frightening one, but thank goodness we were not alone and there was someone there to help us. As the wheels of the train began to chug ahead, we were most grateful to be on our way again.
We proceeded, lucky for us, in time to enjoy our short vacation to Montreal. We toured around downtown Montreal, took time for shopping and sightseeing and, of course, we took lots of time to talk and laugh about our plight as students out on a final summer fling, mysteriously sidetracked, before returning to the books. When the holiday was over, we took an evening train back to Kingston and arrived just in time to complete registration for the coming year. It's a strange feeling to realize just how much is balancing on the realization of one small goal at any given moment in time and how much the achievement of each small goal adds to the fulfillment of the major goals in our lives.
Lucky for us, things worked out as well as they did and our major goals remained on track. As I look back on the student days, I realize that the laughter, hard work, summer jobs, friendships, and journeys we took together all helped shape our futures and taught us important lessons on how to achieve long-range goals throughout life. We also noted that even though we were sidetracked for a little while, we stuck to the plan, and got ourselves back on track.