Looking out the window across the tarmac, I could see a freight train making its way south, if my bearings were right. Car after car, it went on for many minutes. I could only see it snaking its way on the airport’s perimeter, but in my mind I heard it as well — rattling its way along the rails leading to who knows where. There was no red caboose as the cars came to an end. This was a working man’s train. The last car looked like the first after the engine. Piggyback trailers full of goods — white, orange, green and red.
What a contrast — yesterday’s mode of transportation making the trek literally within a few hundred yards of countless airplanes maneuvering their way around each other as they head to the runway for takeoff. They are no doubt filled with both freight and passengers. The romance of traveling across the country on a train has been replaced by society’s insatiable need for immediacy.
As my mind works, I harken to Gladys Knight singing “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Thank God it wasn’t “Midnight Plane to Georgia.” It just wouldn’t have been as good. Ms. Knight could sing the credit union’s newsletter, and I’d listen to every word as if it had been nominated for a Grammy. I love her.
Many years back, I saw Gladys Knight and the replacement Pips in concert in Las Vegas. I had front row seats with my son, who hesitantly agreed to go with me. Gladys isn’t his style nor his genre, but he’s a good son, so he thought he’d humor the old man. As he was familiar with my lifelong crush on Gladys, he begged me not to do anything weird. He knew that my assurance to abide by his request would be hollow once the emotions started flowing, yet he went anyway. See? A really good son.
Song after song, I was mesmerized. Literally, I was 10 feet from her, and she could do no wrong. She was as beautiful as ever, with a voice that soothed like a mom’s touch.Gladys sang them all — every hit.
A slight break in her set, as the room became silent, seemed like the right time for me to express my feelings. I yelled, “I love you, Gladys,” and it reverberated across the quiet hall. My son tried to crawl under the seat — especially when Gladys looked me square in the eyes and returned with an “I love you, too.” It was one of my best days ever.
As the evening ended, I waited around as a couple of stage hands came out to do what stage hands do. I asked for the song list that had been taped at her feet on the stage. “Why not?” one stage hand said as he handed it to me. I still have it proudly displayed.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the way your mind works on a Saturday afternoon while waiting for a flight to come home. A great day for sure.