There’s this one city where a huge number of trains travel back and forth every day. So many trains, in fact, that there are railroad tracks all over the city. Trains crisscross the city all the time. They go over hills and mountains, through valleys and past meadows. They deliver cargo, transport people, and direct transportation for the entire city. Each train knows exactly where it should go and at what time. No train is ever late. But it hasn’t always been like that.
There was once a time when the longest train with the highest number of wagons didn’t follow the schedule. The entire city needed it. Its cargo was important. It delivered food supplies into all corners of the city. But when spring arrived, it stood in the depot instead of on the rails and didn’t go anywhere. The other trains were worried about the train. Perhaps they could be of some help? That’s why two older engines came to an agreement one evening and went to visit the longest train at the depot. The trains had been traveling across the city for a long time; they’d been doing this for a lot of years and were very patient due to their wisdom. They knew it might take a while to figure out the mystery. All the other trains were hoping that they would find out why the longest train didn’t want to run anymore and that they would help him. They trusted that everything in the city would return to the way it should be once more.
That night, when the engines arrived at the depot to see the train, they were surprised by what they saw. It was completely dark and quiet in there. All the lights were off, and the longest train just sat there sadly in the dark. The engines carefully drove up all the way to him and dimmed their lights so as not to startle the train.
“Hi train, we haven’t seen you in a while. We miss you. And not just us, but everyone in the city does too. What happened that you don’t go out anymore?” the engines asked. The longest train slowly turned its lights on to see who had come for a visit. He sighed sadly and then started explaining: “I’d like to keep running, I know that my cargo is important, but I can’t. My brakes are engaged. I have a lot of wagons, which is why I’m the longest train in the city. But now my middle wagon put on its brakes and doesn’t want to move. And so I’m not able to move either.” “Oh,” the engines thought about this. “We’ll try to talk to the wagon. Maybe we’ll figure out something that will help it disengage its brakes and allow you to run again.”
The engines drove along the train’s length to the middle wagon. They greeted it and asked: “Hi wagon, how are you? We wanted to ask you something.” “What is it?” the middle wagon, with the brake engaged, asked. “Did you know that this train and all its wagons are very important to the city? They carry important cargo,” the engines continued. “I know,” the wagon replied curtly. “So why don’t you want to allow the train to run? So that it could make its deliveries again? Is something hurting you? Or are you out of order?” the engines kept on asking.
At first, the wagon remained silent. It didn’t want to tell the truth. But the engines were patient and waited for an answer. They couldn’t let things stand the way they were, after all. And then the wagon took a breath, gathered its courage, and said: “It’s just that I think that I’m not needed. I’m not good for anything. I’m not the beginning or the end of the train. I’m just one of many wagons. I don’t even have to be here. And I don’t want people to see how useless I am, so I don’t want to go anywhere.”
The engines knew right away that what the train was saying was silly and not true at all. But they couldn’t get angry with it. The wagon was sad. They had to go about it differently. Nicely. “Our dear wagon. We understand why you feel that way. Everyone feels sad sometimes, thinking that they are useless and good for nothing. But it’s not really the truth. You can trust us. You’re just as important as any other wagon at the beginning or the end of this train. What’s more, you’re actually in the middle. You’re connecting the entire train. You’re the most important link between the beginning and the end. You’re like the marmalade between two breads. The marmalade connects the two pieces of bread. Without it, they wouldn’t stick together. You’re the sweet connection in the middle of the train.
The wagon had to smile at that. But it liked this explanation. A sweet connection. In the end, the wagon disengaged its brakes. The entire train could start running again and deliver food all over the city. From then on, all the trains have been traveling through the city without delay once again. And whenever one of them feels sad or dejected, the engines give it reasons to keep going and not give up.