Cathy's story is very poignant, to be sure, although I'm not really sure just what poignant actually means. But in order to tell Cathy's story, I must first tell you my own story. Oh, the hell with it, I'll just start with Cathy's story...
Born into slavery in an abandoned vacant lot in New York's ethnically teeming Lower Manhattan, she was surrounded by people from all walks of Life — people walking, people using walkers, people ignoring the "Don't Walk" signs, people named Walker — that sort of stuff.
The neighborhood soon became her playground, allowing her body to develop under the watchful eyes of a local gang of street thugs. There was Scarface, called that because of a gruesome scar on his face; Fatty, because he was grossly overweight; and Shorty, but she never found out how he got that name. Every day she would do her Yoga exercises in the alley, and every day the gang members would smile and make catcalls, although she never saw any cats respond to them.
It didn't take long for her to feel like the tall buildings she was surrounded with were stifling her growth... the lights, the traffic, the jabbering in languages that she didn't understand, the jabbering in languages that she did understand (but tried to ignore), the awful smells of ethnic food, and what's up with all of the gum on the sidewalk, anyway? It was time for a change. She wanted to magically transport herself to a place that was quiet... and clean... with opportunities for growth and development. She asked the Negroes who stood around the vacant lot almost 24 hours a day next to a fire in a big metal barrel, even during the Summer, and they told her that she needed to find a freightyard, and all of her problems would be solved. A few of them, the ones who weren't urinating at the moment, said that they would serve as her spirit guides into the freightyard. She was stunned at the courtesy and professionalism they showed, and accepted their offer immediately.
With tall buildings on all sides of her, Cathy had no idea where a freightyard might be, but the Negroes practically tripped over themselves in their quest to guide her. Somewhat confused by the pile of squirming black bodies in front of her, she closed her eyes and said that she would pick her guide purely by whatever psychic powers might manifest themselves, and taking a few steps forward, twirled around like a top, then stopped and pointed with her extended index finger, eyes still tightly closed, and exclaimed "I Choose Him!". Unfortunately, she was pointing away from the group of Negroes, but immediately several of them broke away from the group to stand in the general direction that Cathy was pointing. She opened her eyes and smiled, then walked up to a Negro somewhat shorter than the rest, wearing expensive-looking tennis shoes and sweat pants, with a large gold-colored medallion around his neck. His chest was bare and hairless, but his flattened nose seemed genuinely sincere, so she told him to wait right there while she gathered up her belongings. Since she didn't actually have any belongings, she slowly turned to face him and ask him if he had any extra clothes for her that would be appropriate for hopping trains.
The short Negro, whose name was Jefferson, began to look around the vacant lot, searching through trash cans to come up with an ensemble that was not only practical but had a certain joie de vivre, if you know what I mean. With every male head dutifully turned away, Cathy changed into her new train hopping clothes, then called out to the Negroes to turn around and give her their opinion on her new "look". She knew right away that every one of them would like to be seen walking down the street with her, but it was Jefferson that she chose, and it was Jefferson who left the vacant lot behind, accompanied by Cathy and a small suitcase that would serve as her "bindle" on her first train hopping experience.
Very shortly Jefferson admitted to Cathy that he really didn't know anything about freighthopping, but he figured that he could at least find a freightyard for her to start in, simply by listening for the sound of a train and then following the noise. Cupping their hands to their ears, Jefferson and Cathy stood on a street corner to listen for the sound of a train. Several minutes went by, but the only noises they heard were from cars, trucks, people talking, and a plane going by overhead. Frustrated, they walked to the next corner and again cupped their hands to their ears, but the jumble of car, truck, people, etc. noises began to soften, and at once they both looked at each other in amazement — the sound they heard was the sound of an alarm clock, and it was getting louder and louder until...