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December 03, 2004

One you don't see every day

I spend a lot of time in subway stations. It's an occupational hazard.

This morning, I saw something I've never seen, but sometimes heard of. I was standing with a co-worker at the busiest station in Cleveland, when we noticed a guy down on the tracks. He appeared to be looking for something, and must have jumped down within a minute or two before we saw him, because a light rail train had just come through.

My coworker went to warn the transit authority workers, and I went over to get the nut off the tracks. Unfortunately, that stretch of track is used by light and heavy rail vehicles, and the next heavy rail train (which can't stop as quickly) was due.

"You lose something?" I asked the guy.

"Mumble, mumble, mumble."

"Okay. Well, you need to climb out of there and let the transit police know. They've got radios, and they'll know when the trains are coming. It's really dangerous to get down there."

It's not quite as dangerous in Cleveland as in Atlanta or Washington, which have electified third rails instead of overhead power, but off to my right, I could see the next train's headlight coming into the (double-length) station. By now, the guy is up on the warning strip, and crawling away from the tracks, and he set off toward the station concourse. I followed, partly to point him out for the transit police, and partly to let them know it was all clear, but before we even got to the doors, an officer was chatting with the nut, who was holding the treasure he was chasing -- a cheap pair of sunglasses.

December 3, 2004 | Permalink

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