Riding the Rails is a documentary that looks into the lives of migrant worker using the way of trains as travel. It depicts the real life accounts, through interviews of personal experiences of what it was like to travel around the country in search of work when there was none to be found at home. These consisted of mostly teens and young adults that had dreams of moving to places of prosperous work availability and the idea of a better life that they could succeed in. The only issue everyone else had with this was they were not paying to ride these trains, they simply hoped on them for a ride. They stowed away in and on top of box cars and even hung on to just the side off the cars as far as it would take them.
Of course there were many dangers of doing this and it was not only falling off the train or getting killed by the train. These stowaways faced many issues once on the train such as; where they would get food and water, where they were actually going to go once off the train and also rode in fear of the train staff themselves discovering them hitching a ride and kicking them off in the middle of nowhere. With the main fear being the question of, will there actually be work for them when they got to where ever they were going. Although other riders experienced different hardships on the rails besides the ones mentioned above. Black riders had to worry about getting caught by lynch mobs and other racially discriminative groups as they made their travel and women had to ride in fear of abuse and rape by other riders. Os they would have to be extra cautious on their travels.
With all the constant worry of not succeeding and the presence of all the hardships they would face during the life on the road many still preceded without thinking of anything and never looking back. They proceeded without any second thought, due to the fact that there was simply exactly what they were thinking of and that was nothing to think about, there was nothing for them to look back at. At home they had no jobs to create an income and in turn no income to purchase the simple things they needed to prosper and due to that many were starving and looking for work to support themselves and families. Thus they turned to the rails for this help.
What interested me most about this documentary was the ending. In the ending the riders explored and thought about the question of getting back on the trains. To ride them once again as they did for so many years in the past. Some of the interviewees responded with simply answering no and others had strong feelings that they would never get back on a train and go through that torture again. They just could not stand the thought of ever getting back on a train. One man on the other hand rides trains frequently to this day and as ever since he started riding them when he was looking for work. He rides them thousands of miles across the country every year. The astonishing part of this is that he still rides them as he did during the depression looking for work. He just hopes right on when the opportunity comes and rides in and on top of the cars.
The intriguing love-hate relationship between the people and how they feel towards train riding now, really makes me think of how I would feel about getting back on a train after going through what they did on the trains. I think I would continue riding trains because I would get a sense of adventure and adrenaline through my body. It would be for me all about the thrill of hopping on the moving train and basically playing hide and seek with the crew as they patrolled the box cars and other parts. In the end I think it would greatly depend on the experience I had initially when I rode the trains if I were in their shoes during the depression. If it was somewhat pleasant and turned out well by having an income by finding a job on my travel, I would say I would definitely continue the riding. Although if it was a bad experience where I had many hardships fall on me and I did not find work, I think then I too would never want to ride one again.
This love-hate relationship can be similar with anything else in the world, if you liked it had pleasant experiences, you would continue with your way. If it was dreadful and you received nothing from it, you would not want to continue in that path. Either way these people in this documentary did exactly what people are doing today. Which brings me to my conclusion; these people were doing what they have to do to have a job and to support themselves and a family. What we get out this or what I got out of the film was the simply aspect of survival, doing what was ever needed to continue living on this earth. At any risk and any cost.