Monday, November 24, 2008


Lest I forget to be thankful that I have a good job...or any job for that matter (especially in this economy) here are a few reminders:

I took these photos a few weeks back, when Metro North was holding a "Career Fair" in Grand Central. The line of prospective employees ended here in Vanderbilt Hall:

But it was a long...


These resume bearing applicants were literally wrapped around the block and the building. The head of the line was in Vanderbilt Hall (42nd Stand Park Ave.), but its tail ended somewhere around 45th Street and Vanderbilt Ave.

I was once told, that at any given time, Metro North has 2500 applicants for each of their open conductor positions. After seeing this crowd...I believe it.
The next time I hear one of my ungrateful coworkers say "This job sucks," I'll show them these pictures and say... be thankful.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cute joke

I usually ignore jokes sent to my email box, but I must admit...this one is cute:)

Two Red Indians and an Irishman were walking through the woods.
All of a sudden one of the Red Indians ran up a hill to the mouth of a small cave. 'Wooooo! Wooooo! Wooooo!' he called into the cave and listened closely until he heard an answering, 'Wooooo! Wooooo! Woooooo!
He then tore off his clothes and ran into the cave.

The Irishman was puzzled and asked the remaining Indian what it was all about. 'Was the other Indian crazy or what?’ The Indian replied 'No, It is our custom during mating season when Indian men see cave, they holler 'Wooooo! Wooooo! Wooooo!' into the opening. If they get an answer back, it means there's a beautiful squaw in there waiting for us.

Just then they came upon another cave.
The second Indian ran up to the cave, stopped, and hollered, 'Wooooo! Wooooo! Wooooo!' Immediately, there was the answer. 'Wooooo! Wooooo! Wooooo!' from deep inside.

He also tore off his clothes and ran into the opening. The Irishman wandered around in the woods alone for a while, and then spied a third large cave. As he looked in amazement at the size of the huge opening, he was thinking, 'Hoo, man! Look at the size of this cave! It is bigger than those the Indians found.

There must be some really big, fine women in this cave!' He stood in front of the opening and hollered with all his might 'Wooooo! Wooooo! Wooooo!' Like the others, he then heard an answering call, 'WOOOOOOOOO, WOOOOOOOOO WOOOOOOOOO!' With a gleam in his eye and a smile on his face, he raced into the cave,tearing off his clothes as he ran.

The following day, the headline of the local newspaper read...............

You'll like this


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Love Train

If I had a dime for every time I've seen this happen on my late night trains...I'd be a rich man.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A gift from Hunter, age 8

Click to enlarge

It's against Metro North policy to accept gratuities or gifts from our passengers, but yesterday, while working a Stamford local train, a young artist named Hunter, age 8, presented me with this drawing. Of course I bent the rules a bit and accepted his wonderful gift.

Hunter is a 3rd grader and a big railroading fan. He said he recently visited The Danbury Railroad Museum, and a month ago went to Metro North's Open House at the diesel shops in Croton-Harmon, NY. There he inspectied all of our rolling stock and told me all about the inner workings of the Genesis engine (pictured above). He then went into great detail, explaining the engineer's stand, the train throttle and independent braking system.

Maybe he'll be my engineer someday.

A note to Hunter and other rail aficionados, tomorrow night (Tuesday November 11th, 10PM) The History Channel starts an eight-part series called "Extreme Trains." It's described as *"a series that tracks amazing locomotives that have helped shape America and continue to deliver today."

*Frazier Moore, AP Television Writer

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Letters...I get letters...I get lots and lots of letters

I'm amazed by how many strangers read this blog and then email me. I'm honestly thrilled and touched that readers take the time to write comments and questions. Here's a sampling of one recent correspondence I received:


I love your blog, it's awesome to get the perspective of an insider on the MetroNorth trains. Next time I see someone puke on one of the late night weekend trains, I'll email you a picture.

You should start a feature on your blog called "ask the conductor". Here's the first questions to start you off:

When did the conductor announcing the stops start using the words 'platform' and 'express' as verbs. For example, instead of saying, "the train will run express to Stamford. The rear car will not reach the platform, please walk forward," the conductor will say, "the train will express to Stamford, the rear car will not platform, please walk forward."

In my book, the words express can be used as a noun or adjective, and the word platform can only be used as a noun. I guess using fewer words and insider lingo shortens the announcements and lets you get your job done faster, but as a nitpicky anal retentive rider, it drives me nuts.
thanks and a keep the war stories coming!
-Peter D.


I think you answered your own question in the last paragraph.
Yes, fewer words do shorten the announcements and let us get our jobs done faster. Though, it's true that some conductors like the sound of their own voice (I've been accused of this) and their announcements go on like Shakespeare soliloquies, most like to keep their speeches short and sweet and to the point. Hence the "rail speak."

I recently heard this announcement: "This is Grand Central Station. Our last and final stop." This really got under my skin, because it's both redundant (last and final) and incorrect. Grand Central is a "Terminal" not a station, a qualified conductor should know that.

I'm hesitant to start an "Ask the conductor" feature, mostly for fear that rail buffs will start asking technical questions. I'd rather they visit sites like or

P.S. Keep the late night train puke pictures. I've seen enough to last a life time.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Continental Drift

Train 6550:

Yesterday afternoon, I collected a ticket from an old woman who was on an outbound New Haven train. She had grey hair and was dressed all in black. She reminded me of my friend's old Italian grandmother.

"Conductor," she yelled as she flagged me down, "Why is New Haven so far today?"

"New Haven is no further than it usually is," I said, "and we're on schedule."

"Oh, but the rides so long."

"Maybe it's because this train makes all the stops between Stamford and New Haven. You must normally take an express train, and skip a lot of the stations that we're making today."

"No," she shook her head. "New Haven is definitely farther today."

"Do you normally ride the train with family or friends?" I countered. "Good conversation can make the ride go by faster, you know."

"No" she said." "I always ride alone."

"Hmm" I tried to look pensive. "As far as I know, New Haven is still 72 miles away from Grand Central. Nothing has changed"

"Then why is the ride so much longer today?"

I briefly thought of saying something sarcastic like:

This morning a giant fissure opened up in the Harlem River, and due to plate tectonics and continental drift, New Haven has moved 20 miles to the east. This makes the commute 25 minutes longer. We just haven't had time to change the schedule yet.

But she seemed like a sweet old woman, I didn't want to be mean.
I finally gave up and said,"I don't know."

Why didn't I think of this answer in the first place?