#58: Harrisburg, PA 10/11/16

The Harrisburg city council had a smorgasbord of issues to consider on Tuesday night. And 99 percent of them came from one kindly, train-loving citizen.

“First, my request to city council: please have police officers on Second Street Wednesday night and Thursday–and especially Friday and Saturday night. Check the Sawyer’s restaurant for noise violations. This summer when they had special music concerts, they shut off the music concert by ten o’clock in the evening at the latest. Sometimes, people are not as good.”

The aged man folded his slender arms in front of him, a large black glasses case protruding from his shirt pocket. He spoke haltingly, clearing his throat directly into the microphone–which made it sound like someone was piledriving just outside the chamber.

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This man has a clear message: shhhhhhhh.

“Also, there are some fellows who play music instruments on the sidewalk at the pizza shop next to Zembie’s on Friday and Saturday nights. And sometimes they get loud. And my request is to please have police officers there and check on them and make sure they cut off their music by ten o’clock in the evening at the latest.”

But before you label him a run-of-the-mill city hall gadfly, I’ll have you know that this man can do more than lodge noise complaints. In fact, he’s a regular Ferdinand Magellan–traveling the globe from Central Pennsylvania to as far away as Eastern and Western Pennsylvania. And he knows a thing or two about the romance of the rails:

“Okay, another issue: I asked the city of Harrisburg and the state to support adding one additional passenger train on the Amtrak line from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. The train we have now, it’s a good train. It’s a beautiful, thrilling ride, but the schedule requires at least one overnight stay in Pittsburgh and the hotels that I checked in Pittsburgh are awfully expensive.”

It was barely perceptible, but as he talked more and more about the trains, you could tell THIS was the thing that truly excited him.

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His bumper sticker reads “My Other City Council is a Train.”

“And one other thing: back in June, I went on a beautiful Amtrak train trip that was fantastic from Harrisburg to Philadelphia and Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., and then going across Northern Virginia and West Virginia, and then overnight to Chicago. And the ride I liked the best was going across Virginia and West Virginia and went over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Praise god and the Amtrak people! And the other railroad people also did a great job!”

Hey, Amtrak, are you hiring spokespeople? This guy praised god AND Amtrak people in the same breath! Can you at least give him free rides for life between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh?

Speaking of spokespeople, Council President Wanda Williams had her own exciting transportation announcement:

“I’m proud to say that my husband won the ‘direct support professional’ for the state of Pennsylvania,” she grinned with pride. “He was chosen among 200 other applicants. He represented the state of Pennsylvania in Chicago.”

Then, the bombshell.

“His picture is now on the billboard going towards I-83 south.”

Other council members chuckled approvingly. “Okay!” “Yeah!” they murmured.

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“Drive slowly–my husband is watching you.”

Final thoughts: It’s a three-way tie, folks: 10 out of 10 stars to the citizen commenter, the council president’s husband, and trains. Hooray, trains!

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