Happy Holidays! Here’s the next part of the story of how I came to work with Bill Bonner and Dan Denning…
As I wrote yesterday, I had written to Bill and offered to work for him for free. Nothing came of it. But I quit my job at Salomon Brothers anyway and flew to Mexico City, without a peso, a dollar, or a credit card in my pocket.
I was going to live like a hobo for a while.
But as I gazed out over Mexico City from the airplane window – knowing I was about to be sleeping rough in the streets below – I seriously questioned the wisdom of this plan. I called the flight attendant and ordered a quadruple whiskey.
I was fine, and the next day, I made my way to Mexico City’s train yards, which were, of course, ringed by a high fence and patrolled by security.
I went to the place where the trains left the yard. But a) there were no trains, and b) even if there had been, I’d still have had to climb a fence and jump on a moving train to get a ride.
This was 2004, before smartphones. I was carrying a road atlas and a railway atlas. I found the main road north and started hitchhiking, thinking I could more easily catch a train in a smaller town.
I was following the busy trunkline from Mexico City to Guadalajara and up toward the California border. I had no luck catching a ride in Irapuato or Querétaro. I didn’t even see any trains!
Then in Guadalajara, I was sitting by the tracks, having been told a train would come through later that afternoon.
A guy was watching me from a nearby restaurant. He must’ve known what I was up to because, when the train finally showed up, he rushed out of the restaurant, untied his white waiters’ bib, and flapped it vigorously at the engineer as the train went past.
The train stopped!
(It will always be a mystery to me why the custodian of a multimillion-dollar capital asset would incur a large fuel expense by stopping his train for a waiter waving a bib and a gringo wearing a backpack.)
Freight trains take a mile or so to stop. By the time it did, the last wagon had already gone past me and was now a few hundred yards down the track.
So I sprinted down the wooden ties for it. It started moving again before I reached it, but I was able to grab the ladder of the final car before it got away from me, and I hauled myself onto the train.
To be continued…
– Tom Dyson