Welcome to the fourth edition of Train Stories. We only have 84 to go before we wrap up our 88-part series. At this pace, we should finish the series sometime in 2045, right before we hit Ray Kurzweil’s singularity.
Last night I took the 12:20am local train home. Those late-night Metro North trains are always an interesting experience, and you really never know what you might see. One time I saw a guy sleeping in the overhead luggage compartment. Another time I saw a guy rip out a poster from the wall and take it with him when he exited the train. I’ve seen people arrested, people fighting, people sleeping and missing their stops. It’s certainly more interesting than the morning commute.
The conductor was particularly cheery. She wished every single person a Merry Christmas and even incited some small talk with passengers. It was refreshing to see a spirit – a sense of purpose – from this woman, at 12:30 in the morning. A little bizarre, too.
This was my first time riding the Metro North train since the derailment over Thanksgiving weekend that killed four and injured others. There were these letters on some of the seats, written from the President of Metro North, that outlined new safety measures and protocols. It assured the passengers that safety was their top priority. I can’t imagine how he must have felt when he heard the news. I imagine his life will never be the same. It was a strange and unfortunate thing to happen. Well, it’s been a strange year.
A little after 1:00, the train stopped. We were at Ludlow station. We sat there for two, three, four minutes wondering what was going on. The doors were open and the cool night air was rushing in. Finally, the conductor informed us over the loudspeaker. We apologize for the delay. We have a, um, sick passenger on the train. Local police are on their way, and we should be moving shortly.
Another five minutes passed, and we still hadn’t moved. The police arrived – first one, then two, then five of them – to try to escort this man off the train. He was unresponsive. They called for an EMT. Five more minutes of waiting, and then the man was brought off the train in a stretcher.
And maybe it was late at night and no one was going to get much sleep anyway, or maybe it was so late that we were all delusional, but no one seemed to complain. No one was groaning or asking the conductor when we would be moving. No, the people in my car were actually smiling, laughing, enjoying the spectacle of this drunk man who had to be carried off the train.’Twas a Christmas miracle.
I finally got home. End of the line, the conductor bellowed before I exited the train. It was a long day of traveling.
Right before I got on the train, I snapped this picture of Grand Central. It was midnight, but the place was still buzzing with excitement and anticipation. It was beautiful. And, yes, I do tend to romanticize these types of things – but it’s hard not to appreciate the wonder of the place, especially in its centennial.