“your last ride”


Three months ago, I took a one week trip by train to the Midwest to attend a cultural event in Milwaukee. I had never been to the Midwest before (except for a one day business trip).

I spent time in both Milwaukee and Chicago.

I had always wanted to see Chicago. An acquaintance of mine who traveled a lot in his business career told me that it was not a particularly interesting city.

I found that it was a great place to visit. Milwaukee was less interesting, but pleasant.

Anyway, what I wish to mention in this post is that I met a fellow on the train who is in his early 40’s. We struck up a friendship over a long conversation during breakfast in the cafeteria car. We have managed since to keep in touch.

He has a day job, but has aspirations to become a writer. He is desirous of feedback from me about his writing and advice about how to start a blog.

We tried to touch base over the holidays but kept missing each other. He lives in Ohio, but he has family in New York City and visits here often.

I got a phone call from him today. During our conversation — pleasant as usual — we inquired about one another.

I told him that I was doing very well absent the usual problems that seem always to crop up in one’s life, like burdocks. You can’t be rid of them, it seems; there’s never any respite.

He laughed, in his usual good natured way. His reply was: “When you no longer have problems, you’re ready for your last ride.” He said this was how a friend of his put it.

Having problems, he said, is part of life; it means that you are ALIVE.

I loved the way he put it. “Your last ride,” to the cemetery. It may be a common expression, but I had never head it before.

Last ride. Problems are a part of life – intrinsic. Having and experiencing them mean that you are not, by the grace of God, dead.

I loved the thought and the choice of words.


— Roger W. Smith

      January 14, 2017

2 thoughts on ““your last ride”

  1. Pete Smith

    I think you heard only half of my comments about Chicago. Yes, I hated it when I had to travel there for conferences at one of the ugly O’Hare Airport hotels, which was at least once a month in my 15 years in Wyatt management roles. But that was the airport area — gray, crowded, airless cheap hotel meetings rooms, nothing of interest.

    By contrast, Chicago itself is a marvelous city in many ways –great people, restaurants, parks, museums, architecture, etc — much of interest. Early in my career, I traveled there often, working on consulting assignments at banks in the Loop, staying at one of their three great hotels of that time (Drake, Ambassador East, Continental Plaza), dining at some unusual and special venues, such as a Swedish-owned restaurant with a special marionette stage that would play the songs from Broadway musicals while the marionettes acted out the story, and frequently stopping for a drink at the Wrigley Bar on Michigan Avenue on the way “home” from work to listen to people like Mike Royko regale the regulars with tales of old Chicago.

    I’d appreciate your getting my comments right, or at least checking with me before publishing them, when putting them on your blog.

  2. Roger W. Smith

    I got your comment right — you are awfully defensive. My memory for such things is exact. It’s not just me saying this. Many others have told me the same thing.

    I said to you once, not that long ago, that I would like to see Chicago some time (which I finally got to) because of its association with Dreiser and Sister Carrie. You said, AT THAT TIME, ‘Chicago isn’t that interesting.”

    The case here, and in other instances, is that you want to be quoted and remembered as having said certain things, and as not having said certain other things, as it befits you; as you see and so deem it.

    So, we had the example, at our younger brother’s Ralph’s wedding, of you making a mean joke about me being gay. It was unmistakable that that was you meant by the joke, which, at the time, you thought clever. It is a typical example of someone making a joke at someone else’s expense when the joke was uncalled for. The truth is and was that I had never had a homosexual relationship or experience. But I was single at the time and had no girlfriend. Such a joke, as you saw it, cost you nothing and made you feel macho — I am a MAN, my brother is a fag.

    When, years later, I got up the nerve to call you on this, you denied all knowledge of having made such a joke.

    You undoubtedly did. You conveniently forgot having done so. You would realize now that it wasn’t true and would not make you look good. And, like the Chicago remark, you don’t want to be reminded of it. You want to be always seen in the best, most rosy light, which sometimes requires, as you see it, a polishing of the apple (read, self-image) and “vetting” of the past.

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