American Humor: The Diplomatic Derailment of the Light-Rail Train Protest

The Last Laugh column shares MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader submitted American humor. Matthew Trump manages a diplomatic derailment of the light-rail train protest from an irate train rider.

| August/September 1997

Last Laugh shares MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader submitted American humor with other readers. The diplomatic derailment of the light-rail train protest using a mere grin. 

Last weekend, we had a big to-do here in Austin when the local transit agency brought a light-rail train protest to town. They've been talking about light rail for a long time and have finally started selecting routes. The demo trip was supposed to use existing tracks to show off the nice, new German cars.

Of course the local media went into a frenzy about it. "What a waste!" they declared. (I especially loved the new, highly paid anchorwoman from San Francisco who arrived six months ago and felt secure enough as a resident to say the train was a boondoggle.)

Laura and I figured we would go out and sample the train on Saturday when it was supposed to be running near the big mall. So we headed up there and found a stuffed parking lot and got in line on the makeshift area next to the tracks. The place was packed with families and kids with balloons. An overly loud deejay "entertained" us. It was a long wait for the 15-minute excursions. Thankfully, I had brought both sections of the newspaper. As I was waiting in line, I noticed a small group of people approach the information kiosk. They were middle-aged, some older, all wearing white T-shirts that said "Backyards not Railyards" on the front, and had a train with a slash through it on the back. The women were also wearing red bandannas around their necks.

I figured they were protesting the route because they lived along the tracks. I noticed none of them waited in line. They all just went right up to the front and stood around in a group.

Finally we got our chance to get on, scrambling over a jerry-rigged platform onto the Siemens car. Inside, it was standing room only, and we grabbed straps next to the German language ticket machine.

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