Wednesday, March 16, 2016

TRAXie

Posted By on March 16, 2016, 4:00 AM

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My friend Ed is 93 years old. His daughter was my best friend. She died 12 years ago after a freak blood clot hit her lungs, thrown off from a mending broken ankle. Later, Ed's second wife experienced health issues. They relocated out of state, so we lost touch. His wife suffered from dementia and believed that her fellow patients in the care center were her students, and that made her happy. She, too, passed. Ed's now living in senior housing by himself and has macular degeneration, which basically means he's visually impaired.

At lunch, we hugged and smiled and reminisced about good things. Ed volunteers at one of our local hospitals three times a week and was given its "Volunteer of the Year" award recently. I don't want to tell you what he actually does there because the rest of this story is a bit intimate, and I don't want to bust his cover.

You see, Ed can't drive to his volunteer digs. So, he takes TRAX, and he gets excited when he talks about his riding experience because he's really, really in love with "Traxie," as he calls it. As he went on, I began to realize he wasn't talking about the transit train at all. He was swooning over the female voice of the train car who gives directions and alerts riders on the train. He told me that, when he gets to his destination, the "sweet and careful, sedate business-like voice" tells him over the intercom, "This is the end of the line. It's as far as we go." Damn, his ride is over and his mental musings about his girlfriend on the electric rail line are dashed once again.

For a month or so, he was convinced that Traxie was surely after his heart and was taking a bolder step for his affections. He heard her say over and over to him, "Use your phone to keep falling in love." On subsequent trips he inched closer to her lips, (the overhead intercom) to hear her better. Alas, Traxie was really saying, "Consider others when using your phone and keep the volume low."

I asked Ed if Traxie could be found at other UTA stations around town, as I was eager to experience her dulcet tones, too. "Oh, no," he replied instantly. "That's her aunt." He leaned over and whispered to me, "Traxie's only on my train." Wanting to help make his fantasies come true, I told Ed I had an "in" with UTA these days and bet I could track down the voice of Traxie. He quickly responded, "No, thanks. I don't want to spoil this affair," and grinned wistfully at the restaurant ceiling.

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