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2002-06-17 12:48 p.m.

Two co–workers invited me to go with them to the train shop recently. Um, the train shop? I was not sure what they meant. Are we going to buy some big, rusty, retarded railroad spikes or maybe pick up an extra Santa Fe caboose to use as a stupid, cozy guest cottage? No, it turned out that they meant the model train store. Was this some sort of cruel joke? Perhaps they did not know my feelings about trains.

MY FEELINGS ABOUT TRAINS:

1) After travelling in Europe for many months by way of train, I found that real trains totally suck the fat one. My only interest with a real train is an almost fanatical interest in avoiding this painfully long, boring, and expensive mode of transportation.

2) I do not have any scientific evidence to prove this, but I am convinced that model trains, train toys, and train paraphernelia are for retarded eight–year old boys and their fathers to play with together, or for grown–up men who dress sloppily and can not get laid—the kind of man whose Real Doll has even dumped him.

But, then I got to thinking. These guys were pretty cool and they were really into model trains—this was important to them, and they invited me to come with. Not only was this a friendly gesture, but, if I went with them I could probably learn quite a lot about something which I shanefully admit I had decided was completely uncool without ever giving it a chance. At worst a visit to the train shop would be better than working, and at best it would be enlightening and super fun. Plus, I would get to visit a store I had never been to before. So I went.

It turns out it was fun. It was enlightenting. It was even kind of exciting. I had a great time admiring the details of this world which I previously knew nothing about.

After I returned to work, I wrote a thank–you note to the person who invited me:

Perhaps even more unpleasant than an uninteresting person is an uninterested person. The uninterested sort of person does not get excited about solar eclipses or the details of a particular Indonesian silk or the specifics inherent to castings of late–1980's Bertone aluminum oil pans. I have spent some time with this sort of uninterested person in the past——we all have met one or two or two–thousand of them in our lives. (I avoid them now, as years ago I realized that squandering my rare and precious moments with the uninterested is as fruitful as a gambling addiction and as compelling as oral surgery or a chlamydia test.)

But then there is the other sort of person, the sort which is interested in the world they live in and that appreciate and marvel at the enormous meanings of the tiniest details. They get excited; they jump up and down; they are interested; they care. To experience something, anything, with the people who are passionate about and invested in a subject provides the rare opportunity to actually experience their excitement and to appreciate details that would be meaningless if not invisible to a dilettante. What person could ever pass up an offer to see the world, or a piece of it, through their eyes for a while?

Thanks for the trip to the train shop.



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