I hear the train a-comin' (that no one else can hear)

In one of Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved fairy tales, a woman purporting to be a princess gives evidence of her exquisite sensitivity -- thus confirming her royal identity -- by demonstrating her ability to detect the presence of a single pea beneath the 20 mattresses she slept upon. Kelly Morris of Powellton may not be able to sense the presence of a legume under multiple layers of bedding, but she does claim the ability to hear distant train noises that escape the notice of neighbors. Morris first complained about Norfolk Southern Railway trains in 2005. She said the noise and vibration coming from the company’s rail yard on the other side of a river disturbed her and her husband’s sleep at night. After meeting with the couple, representatives from the company also interviewed the neighbors, who were not conscious of the noises troubling the Morrises. The company’s determination that there was no noise problem must have incited Morris, for her complaints escalated and became abusive and she began harassing Norfolk Southern employees. After several years of ongoing agitation, the company took her to court to make her stop. On Feb. 5, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin of the Southern District of West Virginia told Morris to put it to rest. He approved a settlement granting Norfolk Southern’s request for a permanent injunction against her. We don’t know what motivated Morris to wage a war of words against the railroad, but we do know that some people are easily annoyed. What passes unnoticed by others is magnified in their minds and becomes a grievance. Yet, how can it be a true grievance if it offends no one else?

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