A Ticket to Ride

Published 7:28 am Saturday, July 8, 2017

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury


I remain a fan of the Trinity Railway Express, provider of commuter rail service between Fort Worth and Dallas. (I deserved a recent TRE tongue-lashing that resulted from my poor judgment. Further, I failed to follow my own lectern-dispensed admonitions across the years about the importance of knowing when to run.)

“If you’re running to catch a train, don’t. There’ll be another one soon,” I’ve advised. “But, if you are running to avoid getting hit by a train, run like the wind.”

Oh, there are plenty of “what if’s.” If an airport parking space had been tougher to find, or if pick-up by two buses hadn’t been so timely, this column topic would never have been mounted.

Striving to allow plenty of time, I left home at 8:30 a.m., planning to deposit daughter Jeanie’s car near the baggage claim area for her family’s return from a cruise. Eureka! I found a choice space. Along came the bus, and I hopped on. How wonderful things are, thought I, as pleasantries were exchanged with the courteous driver. I was the only rider to the south remote lot for that run. This also was true for the next bus, which delivered me to the TRE Center Port station in record time.

“Hurry, you can make it,” the driver yelled. Sure enough, the 9:30 train to Fort Worth was about to pull out, lights blinking and doors about to close.

I had to act quickly, knowing that if I took time to purchase a ticket from the machine, I’d miss the train. My mind raced, thinking of the impending discomfort of spending a miserable hour outdoors where the heat was already pushing toward 90 degrees. Further, I might be alone the entire time, and what if my heart acted up? I felt in my pocket for the small nitroglycerin bottle my cardiologist warned me never to leave home without. What to do?

Dare I run to catch a train? Of course, thought I. I have ridden the TRE many dozens of times, and, for the record, have always paid, sometimes double when machines malfunctioned.

I reasoned that the attendant I’d seek out would understand my plight, and perhaps sell me a ticket on board. Or, maybe he/she could watch me buy a ticket upon reaching Fort Worth, three stops and a quarter-hour away.

Upon seeing the TRE guy, I hastened to him. He was not busy; I was the only rider on the car; my interruption may have delayed his reaching to the next car.

No doubt, thought I, he’d appreciate my observance of all the other rules. I was clothed in both shirt and pants, and had on lace-up shoes (with socks). I was clean-shaven, and, as per a woman driving the airport bus, my “silver hair glistened in the sunlight.”

My appearance didn’t impress. “You have to have a ticket to ride,” he said, firmly. “This is true for presidents, priests, preachers and police. I could issue a $500 fine,” he added.

That I am a couple of months short of 80 years of age and a heart patient for 18 years didn’t shorten his lecture. He emphasized he would NOT be so lenient in the future. I believed him, and should have doubted his interest in witnessing my purchase of a ticket in Fort Worth.

In retrospect, the young man–probably 55 years my junior–was doing his job. At least he didn’t write the citation, nor did he throw me off at one of the two stops before reaching Fort Worth.

Upon arrival, I purchased the $1.25 senior ticket with two one-dollar bills. I left the three quarters to tip the booth lady. Her jaw dropped somewhat, then it fell “floorward” when I tore up the ticket.

Maybe the TRE should sell undated tickets, say for $10 or thereabout, for one-time use when there’s no time to buy a ticket. I’d buy one.


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.