Mandatory Slow Down

A few nights ago, after rushing through the work day, then racing to grab groceries and the kids — so I could rush home and make dinner — the Big Rig forced me to slow down.

I can’t fault our pickup truck. Unlike my insolent, ungrateful car, the Big Rig happily roars down the road on fumes. And it kindly informs me how many miles are left on the tank. 
But even Big Rig has its limits. And when the display read “6 miles to empty,” I sighed and steered into the gritty little gas station that constitutes our town.
There, the truck took a long, slow draw on the pump — 39.5 gallons of diesel, to be exact. 
It took some time.
“Still fillin’,’ the girl behind the counter said when I offered my credit card. I grabbed a Diet Coke, read the tattered cork board advertisements, and offered my card once again.
“It’s still goin’,” she grinned. So I shoved the door open and leaned up against the railing outside. It was late — nearly 7 pm — and the commuter traffic had tapered off. The sun set past the trees and there was nothing to watch, except a ladened freight train, trundling on the bridge over the road. The tracks groaned and screeched under the weight of each car, brimming with mounds of glittery coal. 
And there was something about that train’s methodical pace, car after car lumbering and swaying — with a soft “whump-whump” — that made me forget about my mad dash home and the chores that awaited. I even forgot the pricey gulp of diesel, consumed by the truck. I forgot the kids rocketing around in the back seat. 
I propped a foot on the railing, and watched the train roll on.