Thursday, September 16, 2004

lessons from dad

My dad and I have a strange relationship. I suppose we always have. I don't know why, but it seems that some of the things that he (at least tried) to teach me mostly slipped out the other ear while I was pretending to listen, but I find that some of the things that stick are simply the most random.
Criss Cross
Waiting at a railroad crossing once, I stared out the windows, watching for the end of the train. It seemed a pointless venture, this was a freight train with at least a hundred cars attached. Each one was spray painted and tagged and I wondered what kind of gang was trying to monopolize the rail lines and how the rival gangs that might come across such a train would think. How does someone claim a train as property? Especially a freight train that has no home and is laden with bolts and wires and all manner of miscellaneous supplies. It was at least something to think about to waste the time.
My dad asked me about the railroad crossing sign. "Do you know why they use that sign at railroad crossings?" Of course, I had no idea. It had never dawned on me to think about it...
He went on to explain the meaning of the X. That the X is actually named a "criss-cross" a throwback to "Christ cross", a reference to the cross on which Jesus was crucified. At some point in linguistical history (talk about party fodder!!) the term became "criss-cross" and then was further bastardized into two terms "criss" and "cross". At the railroad tracks, the X is used as a "cross", to symbolize the crossing of the train. In another example, it is used as the word "Christ" like in X-Mas. Two words, one letter, more random trivia.
If this is true or not, I honestly have no idea. But for some reason it has stuck in the back of my little head and I think of this conversation at every railroad stop.

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