Tracks of my tears

Dear Ace: All of my local short cuts involve railroad tracks, but sometimes I find that I end up wasting a lot of time waiting for the trains to go by. Is there a train schedule so I can plan a way to keep my short cuts short?—Impatience Railhopper

Railhopper: To shortcut his detective work, Ace headed down to the railroad tracks. He camped out by Littlejohn’s to scope out the Corner crossing over University Avenue to suss out when the choo-choo comes through town, holding up traffic where it crosses paths with Second Street SE and Carlton Road. But he found that watching trains not go by was some seriously boring detective work. He even tried to pump a few young train-riding hobos for timetable details, but they weren’t about to talk for free. Thankfully, the afternoon was not a total waste, since Ace gleaned one useful fact in the time spent beside the rails: He found out that the trains passing through Charlottesville are owned and operated by the CSX Corporation.

   So Ace put in a call to CSX corporate headquarters. Anxious to hear CSX’s schedule for free, Ace tracked down Misty Skipper, the corporate media contact for the mid-Atlantic region.

   But before we get to Skipper, Ace wants to mention another mid-Atlantic media man, the former Director of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge. Aside from creating that dandy color-coded warning system, Ridge was also charged with the task of identifying a few possible targets for terrorist attacks. And if you recall his speeches, American shipping trains were on the Homeland Security’s sitting duck list.

   So, not surprisingly, Skipper informed Ace that CSX has to keep train schedules out of the public domain as a safety precaution. Not one to balk at matters of national security, Ace just had to accept the answer. So, in response to your question, Impatience, there is no train schedule to help you plan your short cuts. Though if you have time and some cold hard cash, you might be able to score an unofficial schedule out of an observant train-riding hobo…

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