Saturday, October 19, 2013

Full Moon Fever 10/18/2013

Train 1575: My train is held in Fairfield because the traffic is stopped ahead due to a trespasser walking in front of an Amtrak train. He refuses to get off the tracks. MTA PD have to remove him.

 Train 1572: I plug my iphone in to charge and hide it under a seat across from my cab. Someone steals it (yes...again). Thanks to the "Find my iphone" app, and the MTA PD, phone is found sitting in a garbage can at Stratford train station later last evening. I guess an iphone4 is too passé.

 Train 1988: A woman gets on the train and seems to have misplaced her 21 year old schizophrenic daughter. I spend the better part of the ride calling the rail traffic controller with a description, hoping they find her in Bridgeport (they didn't).

I realize that my hand-held radio is missing, and go to use the radio in the engineer's cab.  Up ahead I see three guys sitting on a bridge abutment drinking beer.   I yell "Watch out!", and the engineer blows the horn, and throws the emergency brake on.  The men scurry to solid ground and we narrowly miss them.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Metro North Derailment and Collision 5/17/2013

Lest we think that train collisions on the New Haven Line are something new; here's a picture I pulled out of the family archive. My grandmother Bridget "Bessie" Linehan McKernan was injured in this wreck in Milford, CT, Feb 1916. Nine people were killed, and the injured were treated at Laurleton Hall High School, which was set up as a make-shift triage center. It is rumored that Bessie's hair turned white overnight.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Aaahoo!!! Werewolves of Norwalk


Somewhere around South Norwalk *Sheila, my assistant conductor, entered the head car of the train to collect tickets.  Just as she entered, a well dressed male in a business suit quickly darted into the lavatory.  Once the man was safely locked inside the bathroom, frightened passengers began complaining to her that he was "a crazy man".  They said that before she entered the car,  he'd been pacing wildly, screaming nonsensically, spitting and punching the head rests and kicking the seats.

After waiting several minutes, Sheila knocked on the lavatory door.  The door swung open violently, and a sweating, glowering man howled;


I was in the back of the train collecting tickets when all of this transpired, and I didn't learn about it till my engineer called me on my radio.

Me: What's up?

Engineer:  Bobby, I just had two woman knock on my cab door and they said there's a crazy guy up here, screaming and swearing and they seem pretty scared. 

After hearing this,  I immediately attempted to call the Rail Traffic Controller, but my hand-held radio is fickle, and it suddenly decided to stop transmitting.  I tried another radio in the cab, but that wasn't working any better than my hand-held.  I walked back a car and tried another radio, and that wasn't working great either.  I finally asked my engineer to call for police assistance.  The Rail Traffic Controller (RTC) said that the police would be waiting for us in Stamford, some 10 minutes away from where we were.  Ten very looonnnggg minutes away from where we were.

I walked forward to evaluate the situation, and in the distance, I saw a crazed man leaving the lavatory.  I could see him prowling the aisle, waving his arms frantically, and howling in the air at no one in particular.  He burst open the barrel end door and charged right at me. He was clearly enraged and sweating profusely....almost cartoonishly...kind of like Ted Striker in the movie "Airplane."

I stood in the aisle to block the path of this charging wild beast.

"May I help you?"  I asked in my best non-panicked professional voice. 


He pushed past me and leapt into a seat. He again began violently punching and kicking the seat in front of him.

I finally found a radio that worked and called the RTC and updated him on the situation.  I  explained that the man was acting violently and that he had reportedly spit on some of the passengers.  The RTC instructed me to hold the train in Darien and wait for police assistance.

A few minutes later (it seemed like an eternity), a Darien police officer arrived.  I explained the situation to the officer and warned him that the man was wild, and dangerous and that he should proceed with great caution.  The cop waited for backup (good move on his part).  Two more officers arrived. 

I escorted the three officers to the seat where the man had previously been sitting.  Surrounding passengers pointed to the lavatory, then said in unison... "HE'S IN THERE!"

Sheila and I evacuated the passengers from the area surrounding the lavatory while the officers pounded on the door.

 Again the lavatory door swung open violently and the officers reached in and grabbed for the crazed beast and tried to pull him from his den..  The suspect growled and pounced out of the lavatory, swinging wildly and fighting back with all his might.  The officers now had him in their grips, but he flipped and flopped and tried to break free from their clutches. All four of them tumbled into a seat across from the cab. 

"Stop fighting, or we're gonna tase you man," warned one police officer.

 This seemed to enrage the wild man even more. 

One of the cops, a female officer, pulled out her taser gun....

CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK, the taser shouted.

 "YOU BITCH!!!"  The wild man shouted back.

 CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK!!!  The taser howled again.

 "YOU FUCKIN' BITCH!!! The crazed man howled back.

Two MTA cops arrived and they quickly jumped into the fray.  The five officers finally subdued the man, and carried him out to the platform where they wrestled handcuffs onto to his paws...I mean wrists.

Two MTA detectives boarded the train and took statements from witnesses. Most were cooperative, some were apathetic.  One guy pulled out his iPhone and stealthily recorded Sheila and I as we checked in on one another.

After several minutes, the detectives released the train and we were back on our way. We made it to Grand Central on time (thank you very much).

I think a lot of passengers were shaken up by what they just witnessed.   A few stopped Sheila and I and said they were sorry that we had to deal with the situation.  Others thanked us for getting the him off of the train.  I think a lot of them had the previous week's event in Boston in the back of their minds.

 "Imagine a man acting that way after what went on in Boston last week." said an elderly woman.

Another guy groused; "What's going on with Metro North?  Last week I was delayed on a train while the FBI looked for Boston bombers.  This week I'm delayed by a lunatic."

Later, I told some of the passengers in the rear of train what had transpired in the front of the train.  One of these commuters is an NYPD officer and he said that it sounded like the guy was in a "PCP rage."  He said that's what drove Rodney King to behave the way he did. 

I still don't know what transformed this seemingly normal businessman into a beast.  His  actions were totally unprovoked. But I'm working on a theory...

Tonight, I looked up into the sky and noticed that the moon was full. "That explains a lot." I said to my engineer.  "I'm thinking that maybe that guy was a werewolf."

I flashback and watch him pace the aisle of the train like a caged animal. The sweat pouring down his face, the foam gathering in the corners of his mouth...the deepening five o'clock shadow.

I climb up into the engine,  I howl at the moon and begin to sing to the tune of "Werewolves of London." 

AAAHOO!!  Werewolves of Norwalk.

*name changed to protect the innocent

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Ahhhh...St. Paddy's Day.  Nothing makes me prouder of me Irish heritage than puddles of green vomit, and a good ol' donnybrook on a commuter train.  St. Patrick would be so proud.