Sunday, October 30, 2011

Home Boy on the Train

The last leg of my long trip home from Houston on Thursday began with a 3:45 am wake up call and ended with taking the 10:59 pm Keystone train from Philadelphia to Lancaster.  

There is no quiet car on the last train so I sat across from a guy about my age wearing a suit and dozing off listening to music.  Since he was my age, he would not be listening to Metal, Rap or Lady Gaga so loud I had to listen to 2nd-hand noise.  It turned out he was on the way home from a delayed flight also.

As we talked I learned he works from home advising small companies how to get bigger.  He was a father of eight--two groups of four kids from two marriages.  Group One are in their late 20s and early thirties.  Group two are four kids between eight and twelve.  I also learned he grew up in the next town south of Stoneham MA where I grew up.  Mike grew up in Medford.  

He graduated in 1973, the year the draft ended and was very happy not to go in the Army.  As we talked, it was clear that this 56-year-old guy lived for success, moving up from his blue collar background and being rich.  He made it.  He lives in Lancaster County's best suburb (Lititz) in one of its best neighborhoods.  For him risk has to do with money.  Mike is pro-military, but was never interested in serving.  

Mike was also very candid about his life.  He said his first marriage ended because he could not deal with the transition between being a King on the Road and a chump at home.  The way he said Chump really made me sure he was a Home Boy.  He was a rising star in the business consulting and got handed a "Honey-Do" list at home.  "Hero to Zero when I stepped off the plane," he said.  So he left.

He travels frequently to Europe and was making his first trip to Asia soon.  Another guy across the aisle, Jim, had made several recent trips to Beijing.  Mike was happy to hear Jim had no health problems from the trips.  

Usually, I read or work on the train, but the shared misery of the midnight train home gave me a chance to talk with another guy from Massachusetts whose live took him to Lancaster County.

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