On a recent Sunday afternoon, my son asked if we could go watch the trains at the train park. It is a simple park, on a corner of a side street. A large brick and wood gazebo sits toward one end, several cement picnic tables dot the area, a chain link fence along one edge that divides the park from the train track on the other side. I agreed to take him, reminding him that the trains don’t run as often on Sunday. We made the 30 minute drive, enjoying the fall colors. We arrived at the park, and spent about an hour waiting for the train to pass. When it was clear we wouldn’t see a train that day, and it was lunch time, I suggested we come back on a week day when we would have a better chance to see the trains.
The following Wednesday, my son had a half day at school. We decided that I would pick him up from school and we would pick up lunch and have a picnic at the train park. As we continued to talk about the trains, my son said he wanted to take his video camera and tape the train passing by and post it on the internet. My son is autistic and his favorite things are trains and YouTube videos. Making his own YouTube train video is nirvana to him. The plan was set.
Wednesday came and I picked my son up from school, just as planned. As we drove the 30 minutes to the park, my son made sure I remembered to bring his video camera, and tripod, and headphones to help his ears with the loud train noise. I assured him it was all in the back seat, and he settled in. We went through the drive through at the burger place, deciding to eat at the park while we wait for the train. As we pulled up to the park, I decided we should have our lunch inside the car so it wouldn’t get cold before we finished.
Faster than I had seen in a long time, my son finished his lunch and was out of the car racing toward the fence, video camera in hand, to make sure he didn’t miss the train. I grabbed my camera as well and followed to the table closest the fence.
At the gazebo stood 4 or 5 people, just sitting on the ledge talking, watching as my son set his video camera in just the right spot
After a moment a woman from the group, seeing me with my camera, came up to me and asked:
“how much do you charge to take pictures?”
I replied that I don’t charge anything. She then said ” could you take a picture of my husband and me? We’ve been married 30 years and have no pictures of us together”
Sure, no problem I told her. She then had a big grin and quickly called her husband over, telling him that I would take their picture. I turned as her husband grumbled about getting his picture taken, but begrudgingly came over to where his wife was.
The woman and her husband stood near the picnic table and I snapped a quick picture of them. I showed the woman the picture, to see what she thought. She said ” can we take another? I had my eyes closed” Certainly, so they stood again and I snapped a picture. I said ” one more, to be sure.” And took another. I showed her all three, and she again gave a big smile. During all this, the train had made its way past, as my son caught it all on his video camera.
I asked if she had an address, and she went to her bag and pulled out a piece of paper and a pen, writing her address. As she handed me the paper, she thanked me again saying how happy she was to have a picture, maybe an 8×10? I said sure, 8×10. She asked how long would it take? I told her a few days. She gave me a big hug, thanked me yet again and said I was sweet to do that, turned and walked back to her husband and friends.
My son was excited to head back home and put his video on his computer to watch, so we headed out. The next day I went to the store and printed her pictures, the first 2 in 4×6 and the last 8×10- I placed them in an envelope and sent them to her. A few minutes of my time, to maybe bring a smile to someone I most likely will never see again.