Recently, my wife and I were walking between stores in a shopping center and saw one of those little children’s ride machines you often see outside of stores. Instead of being shaped like a horse, a motorcycle or an airplane, this one appeared to be modeled after the main character of the children’s television series Thomas and Friends – Thomas, The Tank Engine.
If you’re familiar with Thomas, you’ll note that this train doesn’t look as cheery as the original. In fact, I’d say that this train has some significant attitude problems. There’s no way I’d put my son on this train, and not just because he’s twenty-three years old.
I stopped to take a picture. Mrs. Omawarisan said “you’re writing about that, aren’t you?”
Yup. I had to write to get the words “Thomas, The Resentful Tank Engine” out of my head. And you’re about to read why I don’t often do fiction…
People say I’m not myself before I get some caffeine. I knew it was a mistake to stop for coffee; I was already running late. But if there was ever a day that I needed to be myself, this was it. I took the chance, grabbed a cup and made it to the train just in time.
Looking back, I wish I’d missed that train. The doors slammed shut just after I stepped aboard and the train darted forward without warning. I wasn’t the only passenger jolted off-balance by the sudden start, but I was the only one who was wearing half of a pumpkin spice latte when he stood back up. Read the rest of this entry »
Sometimes, back when my son was little, he’d watch the show Thomas The Tank Engine And Friends. I don’t suppose he is still watching now that he is outside the show’s target audience.
For those of you who’ve never seen it, the show centers around the steam engines on a railroad on an island called Sodor. The trains (and a few other, vehicles) are the only things that move in the stories. People and animals are figurines that remain static. As the engines work around the island and interact with each other they learn about things like manners and being a good friend.
A man called Sir Topham Hatt operates the railroad. Sir Topham Hatt is portrayed as a benevolent manager who patiently directs the activities of the trains. From time to time, he provides gentle verbal reinforcement of the lessons the trains learn. He can play benevolent, but I think he has another side. Read the rest of this entry »