The Look in Its Eyes

“It’s the look in their eyes when we hit them, people and animals, that bothers me most,” the engineer said.

I don’t miss those conversations with engineers and conductors about the horrors of their jobs.

I don’t miss the three-hour delays for suicides, accompanied by fists pounding on windows when passengers realized they would not make graduations, weddings, and job interviews.

I don’t miss the café car attendant, who sang over the intercom in a shrill voice his invitation to the café car.

I don’t miss the cat lady, who claimed she kept her meowing cat zipped in her jacket for emotional support.

I don’t miss passengers with croup-sounding coughs asking to borrow my phone.

I don’t miss the sunburned faces and liquor-smelling belches of people boarding after a day at the horse races.

I don’t miss the nosy tax guy, who seemed to take pleasure in hearing about our pay cuts and layoffs during the Great Recession.

I don’t miss those things on 785 northbound.

But I miss the happy-go-lucky dog, that for years ran full speed alongside us every day at the same place and time, like clockwork, trying to keep up with our train.

I wish I could stop missing that dog, and wondering about the look the engineer last saw in its eyes.

Michael Carter