News From the Conductor

My train was towing a different type of passenger car today. After we boarded, the conductor pointed out a very important detail: “There’s a closet at the end of the first car, but it used to be a bathroom, and they haven’t taken the toilet out yet. I must ask you not to use this toilet, because you’ll basically just be going into a bucket. Thank you, and have a nice day.”

I like his style. If my conductor were to deliver the nightly news, I might start watching again. Imagine that instead of the usual blah blah blah, you heard something like this instead:

“The President announced a plan today to spend money to make people forget he’s a Republican. The Democrats attacked the plan because they think Republicans only want to poison the water, give children scurvy, and make old people buy their life-extending drugs in Costa Rica.

“So the Republicans are acting like Democrats, and the Democrats are acting like your crazy old Aunt Eunice who used to bury coffee cans filled with lard in her back yard to hide them from the CIA. Basically, folks, it’s like I used to tell people on the train — while that hole in the corner may look like a toilet, it’s really just a bucket. That’s the news, and have a good night.”


“Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson’s breast on national television last night, and we’re all supposed to act like the holy of holies has been violated. Basically, it’s just a boob, and to be honest, there probably weren’t that many people who hadn’t seen it yet anyway, given the loose morals in Hollywood and New York and all. Basically it’s like I always said on the train: what you may think is a nice fancy toilet is really just a plastic bucket once you lift the lid. That’s the news. Thank you, and good night.”

Forget all these blow-dried talking heads. I want the train guy.


  1. Jeff Brokaw

    You would have loved Mike Royko – he wrote in a very casual spoken-english style, and was street-smart. As the linked piece notes, he wrote 5 or 6 columns a week for 30 years; they sure don’t make ’em like that anymore. He died in 1997, and I miss him, alot.

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