I flattened a penny on the train track.
Today was grey and gloomy. The alarm, when it trilled, ripped me from a dream about Taco Bell and the fall of governments to the pattering sound of rainfall on the roof and outside the window.
I thought briefly of driving to work. The rainy dampness was matched to chilly temperatures and a biting wind; the heated driver’s seat and heating vents would keep the chill at bay, surely. But then I remembered how insane the roads here can be, and I opted for the subway instead. As the train sped down the track in the median of I-795, I was glad I’m made the subway choice; the traffic on the expressway was snarled beyond anything rational.
The day never improved. Rain fell against the office window all day, little beads and rivulets of water running down the blue tinted glass. The sky showed some change, from grey and formless to dark grey and oppressive. I had little time for daydreaming about the weather; I had twenty items on my to-do list (not counting my regular job responsibilities), and when I called it a day I’d crossed off twelve of the twenty, plus an unwritten twenty-first that loomed into my lap like a great looming thing.
I had a pocket full of jangling coins as I left the office, change from the chicken noodle soup I’d bought for lunch in the cafeteria in the office’s basement. The rain had tapered off to a light drizzle, and as I jangled the change in my pocket at the light rail stop I wondered if I had a penny.
I had several, actually.
I walked to the end of the platform, picked a spot that would fall past the end of a two-car train, and laid a somewhat dull penny face side up on the southbound track.
Then I waited.
Ten minutes later, a northbound train came through. I waited some more.
Shortly thereafter, I heard the train whistle to the north, and within two minutes a train came round the bend. The train approached…
Thunk thunk. The train’s front wheels met the penny. Experience taught me that a penny placed on the track will be picked up by the wheel and tossed off onto the railbed.
Thunk thunk. More wheels, rolling across the penny.
Then, Thunk thunk. Thunk thunk. Thunk thunk. Thunk thunk.
The train came to a halt.
The penny still rested on the rail. The rainwater, I realized, had acted like glue to the penny.
I’d never flattened a penny on the rail that had been flattened by all the wheels on a certain side.
This penny was curved, and in shape it resembles a guitar pick. It’s very smooth, except for the faint outline of the Lincoln Memorial on one side.
I’ll add it to my collection. I have a dozen flattened pennies. Easily.