Interesting Train Ride

So I decided to take the 5:00 instead of the 4:00 last night. I actually got to the station early, but I had a good book (“The Good Soldier”) and a bag full of magazines. Everything was fine til we hit Chelsea — rather literally. It didn’t really sound; it was more of a slight concussive thing — closest I can describe is it felt like we somehow picked up a big cardboard box. It wasn’t a box — was a car.

It’s the ensuing passenger behavior that was interesting. The conductors weren’t going to make any announcement until they figured out what had happened. But the guy in front of me was looking out the window and announced first: “We just hit a car.” The lady with him jumped up to the front of the car to peek out and see what was happening. Yes, she agreed, we just hit a car. About 5 minutes pass, and the engineer gets on the PA system to announce that we just hit a car [audible gasp from the passengers], but there didn’t appear to have been anyone in the car [quite audible sigh of relief from same]. A few minutes later it was announced that someone at the Chelsea crossing had abandoned her car but left it in gear so it rolled onto the tracks and into the path of the train — and that we couldn’t move until the “MBTA police release the train.”

So now we’re thinking this’ll be hours. Two passengers decided to play conductor (probably a job they wanted since they were kids), loudly announcing updates: “Passengers in the other cars are getting out and walking up to the next station.” “I think they’re sending a bus for us.”

Fortunately, this was a place along the way that had 3 tracks, so eventually what did happen was we all piled off the 5:00 and walked to the 5:25 train. Along the way, I learned a bunch of things:

  1. It’s really far to the ground when you have to jump from the bottom step of a train.
  2. Walking along tracks is pretty rocky and unpleasant — it’s best to step from tie to tie.
  3. The passengers of a North Shore-bound train on an August Friday afternoon look like the extras on a refugee film, all carrying bags and being herded who knows where and having just shared a, well, shared experience.

We got to walk right by the car, which had been towed away from the train — I’ll just say getting smooshed by a commuter train is probably not what you want to have happen to your car.

Passengers with more advanced cellphones than mine were busy snapping pictures of the crinkled car. Some had been talking with friends and learned that we’d already made the news.

I was hoping to link to a picture and a story, but a car getting smashed up in Chelsea by the 5:00 train didn’t seem to rate the attention of the Boston Globe.

Moral of this tale: Don’t go anywhere without a good book.

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