A level crossing is an interesting place, not only are there occasional trains to enliven your experience but there is a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’ about it. It is possibly the spice of danger. There is after all nothing to separate you from hundreds of tons of iron and steel thundering across. Don Quixote would have loved level crossings, but only once. It’s a good thing there isn’t a station at La Mancha – did you know that Cervantes started working on the idea for Don Quixote while he was in prison in La Mancha, for not paying his debts.
We stand there knowing that the train is confined, controlled, it is on the tracks and its route may not deviate. We can safely stand and wait while the dragon blusters harmlessly past, separated by the flimsiest of barriers. So flimsy in fact, that both Younger Grandsons could easily walk underneath the bar, if they were not held firmly by the hand.
When the lights are not active we saunter across with boastful bravado “There are no trains coming” we say “Come on, let’s go across to the other side.” We don’t need to cross, of course, a train is a train, whichever side of the crossing you stand, but it is important to establish our mastery, our control.
There is no signal so we know it is safe – and knowledge is power.