Cecil the caboose was one unhappy little railroad car. They hadn't washed him or even oiled his wheels for a very long time. He remembered when the yardmen Oscar and Pete would always start the day with giving him a nice wash with the long green water hoses that washed away all the dirt from a hard day's work.
He liked it a lot better when he was bringing up the rear to a passenger train instead of one of those really dirty freight trains that left him covered with soot and dust after a long trip.
Lately, it seemed like the passenger trains were getting fewer and far between as the passengers liked to take the airplanes for a much faster journey. He just couldn't understand how the humans could get up the nerve to go onboard one of those noisy monsters with the tiny little spaces for a person to squeeze into.
Cecil thought that if he was born a human he would never take an airplane because it just didn't make sense that the big ugly thing could get off the ground. He had to laugh because in his view the fun of traveling on the train seeing all the people and the houses and the farms and tree flashing by on both sides was so much better than being in the middle of a bunch of fluffy clouds.
Now he was parked on a side spur not doing much of anything because the new trains didn't even have a caboose to act like a happy tail to the rolling train. He thought that day was coming when they stopped putting the railroad man in his carriage for all the long trips. He knew it was coming but he didn't expect it to happen so fast.
"No more trips!"
In Cecil's mind that was the entire story. It sure did look like his Caboose riding days were coming to an end. He did his best to make the best of it trying not to think about the happy days when he was rolling down the track going lickety split just like the wind through the tree branches. He just hoped his wheels were not rusting for lack of oil because he might have to use them again if the passenger travel picked up steam.
The girl from the railroad yard office called Doris came into the carriage with one of those clipboards that meant business and she was talking to a tall man with a phone buried in his ear just like it was a part of him.
"Well, Mister Anderson, this is one of our nicest cabooses and it has recently been upgraded with all leather seating and a nice thick carpet on the deck to make it look a bit more inviting."
The man said something into the phone that I couldn't make out and then he asked a strange question.
"Does it have a washroom?"
I mean, really, that was quite an insult to a modern day caboose. Of course I had a facility to take care of my riders. I was certainly not some relic of the old days. I had all the modern conveniences. Well, maybe not "all" but I was right up with the times.
Poor Doris was a bit flustered but she took the man to the end of my interior and showed him the pretty little genderless washroom with running water. My waste container was for being parked at a station and it was serviced by the vacuum company that worked on all the railway lines. It was all very hygienic and I was proud of my facility.
All the man said was, "Hmmm!"
I guess he was not all that impressed but I refused to let that get me depressed and choose to disregard his attitude.
He opened his notebook and asked,
"What are you asking for this one?"