Leslie's Omnibus

Bus Fumes

Eric thinks it's almost autumn.

I've got news for him -- it's been in the low 70's during the days and the low 60's at night for the last several days here in Chicago. It's been gloomy when we get up and gloomy when we leave the office. It's rained all day, every day -- everything from steady drizzle to monsoons and back.

In other words -- it feels like the middle of October already! Urk.

Last night was interesting in the manner of the ancient Chinese curse.

On the 8:30 p.m. Metra train, whizzing north on the tracks between Park Ridge and Dee Road, we suddenly heard many, many automobile horns honking, and the train started to slow as it came to a major diagonal intersection. As I looked out of the window on my side of the train car, I realized that we had just passed INCHES from a car that had driven under the arm of the train crossing and was sitting squarely in the middle of the southbound track.

INCHES, people.

I have a few observations:

-- Metra conductors are incredibly cool, calm and collected in situations like this.

-- Our very young engineer got that big hunk of metal stopped very quickly. He himself was the one who got off the train and lifted the gate so the extremely frightened woman who had put herself in such a gawdawful position could back up to safety.

-- That self-same engineer tamped down his fear and his rage and acted like a complete gentleman with the git.

That would have been bad enough, but as my train was pulling in to my station this morning, we saw a guy at the next street/tracks crossing -- which is under construction -- directly in the path of my train, picked up his bicycle, ducked under the crossing gate, and crossed the tracks while the train was bearing down on him, horns blaring.

You want to feel helpless? Be in my shoes watching either of these things. I've got a headfull of snow white hair to show for it.

What in the hell is wrong with these people? Don't they know that nothing, and I mean NOTHING is worth putting your life at risk like that for??? When it comes to a match between a pedestrian or a vehicle and a train, the train is going to win. Period.

In addition, those utter fools are putting the lives of every passenger and railroad employee at risk with their selfishness. Not to mention the mental and emotional distress they inflict, even with near misses.

Do me a favor, would you? If you're late, choose to get there alive, okay? Really, I'd rather have you living and breathing than worry about your being a few minutes late. Really.



Tammi said...

You talkin' about the weather...that is EXACTLY why I don't mind the commute. I get at least an hour each day of beautiful open farmland each way.

Now this winter? Yeah, goin' and comin' in the dark? THEN I'll be doin' more than my fair share of bitchin'. But right now? It's glorious!

Windypundit said...

I don't think the train or the people on it were in much danger from a single passenger car. A truck, maybe, especially if it's carrying something heavy (like the coiled steel that killed a bunch of people on the South Shore line a few years ago), but not a car.

The same can't be said for other people on the ground. A train can throw a car pretty far. You wouldn't want to be too close when it happens.

Safety tip: If your car gets stuck on the tracks and you have to abandon it, get off the tracks and run toward the train. If you run away, you risk getting hit by your own car when the train smashes it. In short, don't go where the debris is gonna go.

Anonymous said...

windypundit . . . You've got to be kidding!!! Can you say "derailment"?? Of course there's a danger to the train and the people on it!! Not to mention the emotional damage the trainmen can suffer from being up close and personal when there's a collision.