The stupid train wouldn’t work. As a child, my grandmother had a Christmas Train that went around her tree. I spent hours playing with it, imagining all the people in the houses, eating dinner, hanging stockings, etc. So, when I saw that Linens N Things had Lionel trains discounted, I bought one. No returns or exchanges, you know, since LNT is defunct, but they assured me I could contact the manufacturer for help if the train had a problem.
I set it up, made sure the track fit together tightly, plugged the track into the wall and rejoiced when lights turned on. But it wouldn’t go. I tried the remote again and again, changing angles, swearing at it, no longer filled with Holiday Cheer. Santa waving at me from the caboose filled me with panic. Thoughts of disappointed children, myself included, drove me to look up Lionel “service stations” online. The nearest one would take about an hour drive time. An hour? Like I’ve got a spare hour to waste on a train. I decided I needed a closer solution.
I tried Ace Hardware. Whenever I have any sort of problem, I try Ace Hardware. They don’t like it so much when it’s a personal problem, but they’re great at home improvement advice. This time, Retired Expert Number 1 explained that they didn’t stock the part he thought I needed, a micro-light, but he gave me directions to 2 different hobby shops specializing in trains. I love Ace. Even if they won’t babysit.
Returning home, I fiddled with the train some more. All the lights appeared to be on. In sheer frustration, I pulled apart the remote. I removed the batteries and stared at them for a long time, hoping I could channel some sort of mechanical intelligence I lacked. And I did. While staring at the brand-new batteries, I read the word “rechargeable.” Oh. That means they come uncharged. Which means that all the angle adjusting in the world wouldn’t make the remote work.
Why didn’t I become an engineer? I’m brilliant at this stuff.
After pirating some batteries from another toy, I’m happy to report that the train works just fine. Santa says, “Merry Christmas”, bells whistle, music plays, and it goes around at a break-neck pace. And no one in my house has noticed the now-silent other toy, the one that sacrificed its batteries. Which makes me wonder why I keep buying noisy toys.