I got to run a railroad.
Okay, it was only a 13-mile shortline that is wholly owned by my former employer. It was dinky. I didn’t care if it was 1,300 miles. I got to get up and run an engine!
|A typical train hauls thousands |
of tons of freight.
My yells mixed with the train’s horn when we came across a family taking a stroll on the tracks.
“People!” I wanted to scream. “Don’t you have any sense? This train could crush you!”
I’d read many company reports about situations like this. They described people maimed and killed. Bodies mangled, pinched or struck into mist. And there wasn’t a thing I could do about the folks on the rail in front of me.
“We see this every day,” they said. “People take chances like this all the time.” They don’t like to talk about the times it doesn’t end well – nightmarish incidents they were helpless to stop. When they do open up, train crews can describe every detail. They never forget the car or truck stalled on the track, the hunter who was trapped on a rail bridge, the teen listening to tunes as she walked between the rails. They don’t like to talk about it – but they do – hoping people will listen.
*** This is where I'd planned to end this blog post. Then I opened the newspaper. It's happened again. ***
In the past several weeks four Missouri teens have died in train incidents. In two separate incidents, young men did not hear the trains that killed them because their ears were filled with music and earbuds. Two young ladies perished when their car refused to start after they'd parked on the tracks at a crossing in order to spook themselves by playing out a local legend. Three tragedies and four lives ended.
Talk. Talk to teens. Talk to adults. Talk to anyone you know who walks on or around rail tracks.
Railroad tracks are not pedestrian paths. They are industrial, private property where large machines operate.
If you must cross them, cross them quickly.
Use your senses. Look for a train. Keep your ears clear so you can hear them approach. Don't ignore rumbles or vibrations.
Look. Listen. Live.