Have you ever noticed how often the engines are on when you board a train, a plane, or other means of public transport (including buses)? They’re nearly always on – even in the case of planes where in lieu of the main engines used for thrust, an auxiliary engine runs to provide the cabin with enough electricity to light the passengers’ way through to their seats.
Now, have you ever noticed how often those engines are turned off well before departure for a handful of seconds sometimes stretched upwards to a full lengthy minute? Why do they do that? Is it a sign from the conductor/pilot/driver? Are they signaling to us that yes they do exist? Do they want to remind us of their existence? Surely we passengers do not naively think these feats of human engineering can self-drive themselves? So why do they do it?
On this last day of an eventful 2008 (quite a vintage it turned out to be – sour grapes mixed with plump ones), I was on the 1737 train from Cholet to Angers when just the thing happened. We (the odd passengers and myself) were comfortably installed in a second-class coach waiting for the train to extricate itself from the station when, once the conductor had announced an on-time departure, a dying engine sound was instantly followed by a total blackout in all coaches. Within seconds, the engine had purred back into shape and the lights were once again shining brightly.
I couldn’t help but think of the conductor out there alone in his cabin (or is it called the engine room or perhaps something more modern, inspiring more grandeur). What were his plans for the passing of 2008?
On this note, let us welcome 2009 and celebrate the end of yet another year.
Good night and until then,