Billy Pilgrim was packed into a boxcar with many other privates. He and Roland Weary were separated. Weary was packed into another car in the same train.
There were narrow ventilators at the corners of the car, under the eaves. Billy stood by one of these, and, as the crowd pressed against him, he climbed part way up a diagonal corner brace to make more room. This placed his eyes on a level with the ventilator, so he could see another train about ten yards away.
Germans were writing on the cars with blue chalk--the number of persons in each car, their rank, their nationality, the date on which they had been put aboard. Other Germans were securing the hasps on the car doors with wire and spikes and other trackside trash. Billy could hear somebody writing on his car, too, but he couldn't see who was doing it.
Most of the privates on Billy's car were very young--at the end of childhood. But crammed into the corner with Billy was a former hobo who was forty years old.
"I been hungrier than this," the hobo told Billy. "I been in worse places than this. This ain't so bad."
I really love the hobo in this passage. Jammed into a boxcar with a dozens of other people, probably starved for days, exhausted from marching and marching, the hobo still isn't feeling too bad. Think about it. It's better to be a prisoner of war than a homeless person in the United States. That says quite a bit. In the wealthiest country of the world, there are hobos dying of hunger and exposure.
I am not going to get all political here. I'm not going to focus on the poor and working poor. People who work two, sometimes three jobs and still can't pay their bills or feed their kids. Minimum wage that doesn't even provide a minimum living. Kids that only get hot meals at school. Senior citizens who can't afford their medications.
Nope, I'm not going to talk about any of that.
I'm going to talk about chicken pot pie, which I had for dinner tonight. It was delicious, with crispy crust and chunks of meat, potatoes, and peas. I had two pieces, and it made me feel warm and satisfied. I'm thankful that I had a warm meal tonight. I'm better off than a good portion of the world's population.
Sometimes, it's easy to forget how lucky I am. A loving wife. Two great kids. A house. A car that works. A couple decent jobs where I am relatively respected. Books to read. A laptop computer to write blog posts on. A warm bed to sleep in.
As the hobo tells Billy Pilgrim, this ain't so bad.
Saint Marty is thankful for chicken pot pie and his kids and wife and books and laptop tonight.