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  • A crossing guard caught me in the parking lot this morning. I see him each day. He takes a short cut through the office park to get to his post.

    "Good weather this morning."
    "Yeah, it's brisk out."
    "I had 30 years on the railroad," he said as he limped closer to me. He was holding his stop sign and some papers under his left arm.
    I stopped turned and he repeated: "30 years on the railroad."
    "My great-grandfather worked the railroad," I said.
    "30 years on the Eerie. Worked on the Eerie?"
    "No, Central."
    "Ah, Central."
    "I was a conductor. Had four suicides. Four people jumped in front of my trains."
    "Yeah, had one guy whose 15-year-old son left him on the tracks in Passaic with a bottle of whiskey. Cut him clean-through," he said stooping down drawing a line across his mid-thigh with the flat of his free hand. "I poured him a drink. I told him, 'You're gonna need this. Ain't gonna be any where you're going.' I had one with him too."
    "I guess that's all you can do."
    "Yup, well, you have a good day, my friend."
    "You too."
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