Saturday, August 26, 2006


Like any service industry, the railroad gets a lot of letters of complaint. Passengers write to complain about late trains, dirty trains, hot trains, cold trains and sometimes they write about rude conductors. A lot of these letters have merit, but sometimes these letters are a bit trivial.

Dave is a fellow conductor who also happens to work as a stand-up comedian. I see him almost every evening in Grand Central. He paces the floor of the conductor’s lounge as if it were center stage at Caroline’s Comedy Club. He looks a little like Paul Reiser, but his delivery is more Richard Lewis. Every night Dave has a gripe. Whether it’s politics, the company, the union or a recent passenger. No one is safe from Dave’s rants.

Dave’s performance on Wednesday night was particularly amusing. It seems that a passenger recently wrote a letter to the railroad to complain about the way he chews his gum. The passenger wasn’t so much offended that Dave was chewing gum; it was more the manner in which the gum was chewed. The letter said something like; “ He chews gum the way a cow chews cud.”

Dave was fired up:

“Can you believe that?” He asked.

“Don’t these people have anything better to do?”

“What? Do they expect the railroad to take disciplinary action if I don’t learn how to chew gum properly?”

Just as I began to wonder if Wrigley’s had a 12-step program for excessive chewers, Pete, another conductor chimed in:

“Yeh. You think that’s bad? A passenger once wrote a letter and complained about the way I smile. She said it was sinister!”

I thought these stories were pretty funny and that they’d make a good story for this blog. I began asking other conductors if they had ever been written up for frivolous reasons. Most conductors said no... and If they had been written up, the passenger had just cause. I was about to give up hope when someone shared the following story.

It seems that a fellow conductor named Evel, (rhymes with level) had a disagreement with a female passenger on his train one night. I’m not sure what the problem was, but the passenger demanded to know what his name was so she could write a letter of complaint. Evel (ever the gentleman) obliged the woman. He even went as far as spelling his name out on a piece of paper:


He politely handed the piece of paper over to the passenger, but this seemed to only infuriate the woman further.

A couple of days later a trainmaster (supervisor) met Evel’s train at the platform in Grand Central. “Okay,” he said, “Which one of you wise guys told a woman that your that your name was Evil Morals?”


Jamie said...

trainmaster had to be trembling!! whoops, I ment trevor!!!!


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Derailed,

I'd like to make a complaint. I have no idea how I am going to fit all the good things I have to say about your blog in one space. I love your blog so much, it always makes me laugh! Is there any way you can make the comment space bigger :)?

A Commenter

Anonymous said...

Copy and paste this link to see how I feel about your blog!


Anonymous said...




Anonymous said...

Conductor Dave is a MORON !!!

Paul "Legendary Train Man" Pesante said...

Well, Bob, if this is any consolation, when I worked in the subway as a conductor, I was particularly cheery (as I always am, if no one ever knew!!), and someone actually came and asked me, "Are you even from New York?", "You are way too cheery!!". I was like, "Yep, Queens, born, raised and (at the time) still living!!" "I am a true New Yorker!!", I replied. She walked away with the absolutely most comically dumbfounded look on her face!! At least on Metro-North, I get complimented for being cheery.

Anonymous said...