On Track

To keep track of something
Image by Dan Thompson

This meme uses wordplay; from the picture we can see that there are two train drivers, and if we miss from the picture that they are train drivers, in the text it says, ‘How many derailments have you had?’ A derailment is when a train leaves its tracks, so we know that they are train drivers.

There are several expressions using the word ‘track’ that provide useful background. The expression ‘to be on track’ means that everything is going according to plan, things are on schedule, things are going in the right direction etc. For example, “Everything is on track to be finished on Friday as planned.”

One might then logically assume that if something is not ‘on track’ then things aren’t going to plan, and indeed this is the case. For example, “Boss, we’ve had some complications and unfortunately we’re no longer on track to be finished on Friday as planned.”

Interestingly train tracks are also known as rails, which is where the word ‘railway’ comes from. From this we also get the expression ‘Off the rails/To go off the rails’ which means out of control. For example, “The vicars eldest daughter has seriously gone off the rails“. But that will be the subject for different meme!

There is also the expression, ‘to lose track of something’ which means to not be aware of what’s going on in a certain situation anymore. For example, “Who is leading the championship at the moment? I’ve been so busy that I’ve lost track“.

The logical opposite of ‘to lose track of something’ is ‘to keep track of something’ which means to be aware of what’s happening in a certain situation and keeping a record of it. For example, “A good way of keeping track of household expenses is to use a spreadsheet.”

The key to understanding this meme however is the use of the word ‘keep’, which means to maintain or continue doing something, when not read as part of the expression.

When the driver says ‘It’s hard to keep track‘ he means that it’s hard to remember how many times his train has left the tracks, but it also reads as, ‘it’s hard to maintain the train on the tracks/rails’.

Well that was a very long explanation of a meme! We hope you’ve learned something new.



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