Getting Off The Blame Train
A short allegory of personal accountability and attitude
Whoot! Whoot! Whooooot! Clang! Clang! Clang! Shummmshmmshhhhh. Shhhhh shoopp! EEEERRRRRK!
“Blame Train, arriving, Shame Station. Local time is now, Distorted Central Standard time. Please, quickly disembark at the rear of the train, we’ve got a quick turn around today,” chirped the conductor.
“All aboard! Next stop, Deferential Depot, followed by Jackass Junction, and The End Of The Line,” she crowed.
The End Of The Line wasn’t really the end of anything, but rather an endless loop of suffering circling back on itself. As it loomed closer, I began to squirm in my seat.
It felt surreal. The conductor in her “take no prisoners” voice sounded a lot like Linda Hamilton in The Terminator. God, she was a hot mess, wasn’t she? Single-arming the lock and load action on that shotgun? Why can’t I be more like her? Lock and load my brain, make good decisions in seconds. Keep my mouth shut when it was the best thing I could do for everyone involved.
I knew where the train was headed further down the tracks, but I just couldn’t decide, or get clear enough of my ample pride in order to make the leap. Get off here or stay on the train and ride it all the way to the end of the line, to Jackass Junction. Or, get off at that tiny spot called, what was it called, Deferential Depot, between here and there? God, who could live in a place called “Deferential”? No more than a wide spot in the tracks, only a fragment of an opportunity, a blip on the continuum of right and wrong.
“What to do, what to do?” I hemmed and hawed. Nibbled my thumb nail.
“Well, I could protect and defend my precious point of view. I was right, wasn’t I? Partially right, at least half-right, right?”
In the seat back pocket in front of me a small pamphlet was peeking out. It was just the sort of self-actualization rambling cock and bull the Truth Train Cult was known to leave behind, conspicuously tucked in places just about everywhere they went. I could see the top to it. It read, “Where Are YOU Headed…?”
“Blah, blah, blah blah…” my mind filled in the rest.
I jerked my gaze away and stared out the window, irritated.
“Who needs some dumb old advice from a “truth cult” anyway? They seem unstable to me, compulsively walking around grinning all the time like they haven’t got a care in the world. My habits have served me just fine all these years, right?” I reasoned with myself.
I flicked the edge of the mini pamphlet as a final dispensation on reading it, but my curiosity got the better of me and I impulsively snatched it from the pocket and began reading.
Where Are YOU Headed?
The habit of needing to be right has derailed more trains than a thousand and one drunken conductors or switchmen ever could.
You know you are in the jaws of this nasty habit when you buy a ticket for the Blame Train and ride it into Shame Station where you’ll collect your bags and depart a self justified, pissed off wreck of a human being. Being “right” doesn’t feel as good as you thought it would, eh?
But if you’ve found Shame Station an unwelcome spot to disembark from the Blame Train, you’re in luck and you’ll be relieved to know there is one small stop between here and Jackass Junction. It’s quaint and quiet, and a relatively underutilized station called the Deferential Depot. There’s only one food vendor if you’re hungry enough to eat. All he sells is humble pie, though. At Deferential Depot folks are hip deep in humility and they make a regular habit of respecting other folks’ thoughts, feelings and opinions. So, you can see why people who ride the Blame Train whiz right by it. Why, they can’t even see the town, for it being such a humble place! But it’s no small thing how these folks live ever so content, you can be sure of that!
We know. Like everyone else, you feel life is chugging along nice and comfortable, scooting down the right track then someone or something comes along and violently derails all your cars. People, baggage and their messy expectations go flying in every direction, only to land in a mixed up heap of twisted metal with a little wisp of steam curling upward for emphasis. A real mess and someone’s got to be responsible for it, right?
The blame always falls, for it must, right? But you cannot allow it to fall on you. Or can you? What if we told you at Deferential Depot nobody gets blamed for anything?
Come visit us and see, we’re on you’re way anyway since you’re already headed to Jackass Junction, so, whattyahavetolose but blame and shame?
Paid for by the Council for Tourism: Deferential Depot.
© S Lynn Knight 2016
*Originally published in The Coffeelicious on July 1, 2016