I had the honor of being invited to teach entrepreneurship in Portland on behalf of A Social Ignition.
It’s early. A cold fog hugs the lightless air outside, as my bones creak awake. Cold brew, a poor strategic choice. Talk radio gurgles through the falling water of the shower, as steam saunders from between the curtains. My bones loosen just enough to climb into the shower. As my brain defrosts from the kung-fu combo of caffeine, warmth, and the prospect of a novel and exciting adventure: Ideas, and anxiety are rushing through my head. Am I ready? What if I have nothing useful to say? I hope I don’t miss my train.
My footsteps echo across the empty marble keeping the muddy dawn at bay; the station as empty as it is dark out. I zig zag through empty ribbon barriers towards the ticket counter. I hand my ticket to the attendant which he scrutinizes for a few moments before stamping it and asking me “Would you like a single or a double?”
It’s my first time taking a train anywhere. Kind of. I have a memory as a child being told, against my protests no doubt, to hold my grandma’s hand as we waited to board a train. All I can recall is glimpses of silver and track between the crowd and the feel of my grandmothers hand in mine.
“I’ve never taken a train before, so I’m not really sure what you are asking…” I reply, obviously the amateur. “You want the single” he says with a wink, “trust me.” I do, even though I am oblivious to what I’ve agreed to. Carpe diem, or C’est la vie. Something like that.
The train warbles in tandem with the click clack of steel versus steel at speed. We stop, as an almost uninteligable voice informs the riders that we are experiencing a mechanical problem. Everyone pulls out a phone to tell someone else they are going to be late. As the metallic beast rumbles to life, I am mindful of what’s around me. Chug. The seats are old, cushions flattened by so many travelers. It rattles, loose in the bolts from years of rocking side to side. Chug. A stale and familiar scent is high in my nose and I realize someone in my car smokes cigarettes. Chugga Chugga. The man behind me complains about the terrible service, through his cell phone to somebody that can’t understand what he is saying. Irony. I chuckle to myself. Clickity clack clickity clack. I look across the aisle through the window and across the the concave of the track to see the train ahead disappearing in the rock of a gigantic cliff. It goes dark, the sunlight inside replaced by a dull and orange incandescent glow seeping from various recesses running along the cabin roof.
Coffee sounds nice, and I decide to make my way backwards towards the dining cart. I wonder in an Einsteinian way about the physics of my soon-to-be journey. The train is traveling forwards at approximately one-thousand miles per hour while I will be traveling backwards at approximately two miles per hour. Now accounting for the loss of momentum as the train lurches side to side, how many pounds of pressure must I exert to counteract the sway and not get put on my ass. I’ve never been good at math. Walking was strange. It kind of felt like walking on a horse as it gallops along at a decent rate. You kind of just loosen up and go with the flow. Before I knew it I’d sloshed my way along three cars, the doors in between swooshing away automatically like the NCC-1701-D.
(I didn’t know how to finish this story, and didn’t want writers block to get in the way of posting. More to come? We shall see…)