Thursday, August 11, 2005

Killer Trains

I don't fear a lot of things, but my one major fear is trains. You will almost never find me in my car creeping slowly over railroad tracks. It does NOT happen. I fly over those suckers and I don't fucking care if it's bad for my shocks. I've seen or heard too many reports about people whose cars have gotten stuck on the tracks with a train coming and that freaks my shit right out. I have no clue how cars get stuck, but I can guarandamntee you that my car will not be one of them. And just to feed my fear, I watched Investigative Reports yesterday on A&E and the show was called Danger on the Rails or some such thing. If there is a show that somebody with my fear of trains and railroad tracks does not need to watch, it's this show. Bloody hell. Here is a stat from the show: "Every 90 minutes a person in this country (U.S.) gets hit by a train!" WTF!!!! And I trust Bill Curtis. That man does not lie.

They covered all kinds of trains (i.e., freight, commuter, Amtrak) and railroad crossings. The one that just about had me in tears was a commuter train problem. I think they said it was in Chicago. The video showed all these people running across the tracks after getting off the train. The gates were down and flashing. There was a train sitting still in the near tracks, the far tracks empty. They highlight one woman in black who looked and then stepped back and decided to wait. They then showed two other people who went rushing past the woman in black. A train moving at a high rate of speed appears in the far track and just as it's about to hit one of the two people the screen went blank. Trust me, it was enough. I knew what happened and it didn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling. In fact just thinking about it gives me the chills and makes me feel a bit like throwing up.

The show also interviewed people who had family members who had gone around the railroad track barriers trying to beat the train. DON'T EVER FUCKING DO THAT!!! It's so not worth the miniscule amount of time you might make up. And especially don't do it with me in the car. For many many years, I could not walk across railroad tracks. Thankfully the main street by my apt. has a railroad trestle overpass, so I can walk down and under to get to the shops and restaurants that I patron. I have reached the point where I can walk across them, but you'll never see me dawdling there.

I don't know if I have told this story before, but if I did, tough noogies. I'm telling it again.

When I lived in SF, I would come home during the summer, usually for at least a week. One evening after Mom got home from work we decided to walk up to Guernsey for some ice cream. This part of metro Detroit is not really walker friendly, but Mom said she knew a way to get there. Okay, I'm game. We're walking down 8 Mile and reach this point where Mom ventures off the road and into some weeds and stuff. It's hard to describe because I was too freaked out to pay much attention. She starts walking on some railroad tracks. I thought it was a short trek simply to cross said tracks. After a number of feet (we were on them much longer than I was comfortable), I finally said, "Are we going to get off of these damn tracks soon?" She just looked at me in surprise and said, "The weeds are high and scratchy." I simply said, "And trains are big and fast and kill you." I was quite literally losing my mind at this point. Mom's response? "The train isn't due for some time now." I got off the damn tracks and Mom got the hint and got off them too and led the way. Needless to say, we took a different way home. The tracks run right behind Guernsey and you would not believe the number of friggin' idiots who sit on the tracks and eat their ice cream. We crossed them there and walked through a fancy subdivision with huge-ass houses and I was a much happier camper.

When we got home I talked to YS and asked her in a high-pitched freaked out voice, "Do you know how your mother goes to Guernsey?" YS just laughed and guessed, "Along the railroad tracks?" "YES!"

And there is my biggest hugest most gargantuan fear and I've literally made myself ill thinking about this. Time to find something else to think about so I can calm down. I think my hearts going about 95 bpm. Time for some deep breathing exercises or something!


At Thursday, 11 August, 2005, Anonymous Christine said...

One of my close friend's best friend, committed suicide by lying on train tracks and waited for the next one to come along. She was only 17 years old.

I don't like train tracks either. Not one bit.

At Thursday, 11 August, 2005, Blogger Jason said...

Yeah. I knew a girl that was killed by a train. It's a dangerous game to play.

At Thursday, 11 August, 2005, Blogger Collin said...

I used to live by the railroad tracks...I hated crossing them. They've actually made it illegal in that area now to cross them on foot. My brother does it anyway to get to Taco Bell. Pfft! Tacos aren't worth that.

BTW, I trust Bill Curtis, too. I love that Investigative Reports.

At Thursday, 11 August, 2005, Blogger Heather said...

Yikes! That was ME, not Collin. Yeesh!

At Friday, 12 August, 2005, Anonymous Aaron said...

The amount of non-stupid people killed by trains is very very small. People killed when their cars get stuck are killed because with their car stuck on the tracks, they were too stupid to get out when a train approached. Too worried about saving their car. Don't trespass on the tracks, obey the crossing signals, and look for trains before crossing. It's that simple.

At Friday, 12 August, 2005, Blogger Kathleen said...

Christine - Thanks for visiting. I'm sorry I reminded you of something painful.

Jason - The only person I knew was the prof at school who was crossing the Huron River on the trestle and even though there were two sets of tracks she couldn't over far enough not to be sucked in by the train.

Heather - Derek's crazy. Good thing your mother didn't have a son. ;-)

Aaron - I know that, in theory, but I would say that they're more foolhardy than stupid. Nobody takes on a train thinking they're going to die, they all think that they're going to win the race.

At Monday, 15 August, 2005, Blogger Erica said...

My sister-in-law was killed crossing train tracks in her car. It was out in the country and there were no gates or even warning lights, and the crossing was up on a hill and the tracks were off in the woods - and you couldn't see if the way was clear until you were ON the crossing - she followed another car over and got hit. Witnesses said there was no warning sound from the train, either. I had seen "Rails of Thunder" or whatever propaganda they show in Driver's Ed about not messing with trains, and that made me sick enough. Now I can't stand railroad crossings. It's a terrible way to lose someone.

At Monday, 15 August, 2005, Blogger Kathleen said...

Erica - Those are the type that really scare me. I'm sorry to remind you of something painful.

Some of the parents who lost kids who had gone around gates are lobbying for European-style gates that block all four quadrants. I think it's a great idea. And yes, I think it's good to protect people from their own stupidity/hurriedness.


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