Re that awful NYC subway incident, our stout commenter Jabsco earns his long-sought-after handle appearing in a headline by suggesting:
If you find yourself on the tracks with a train coming at you... run away from the the train, DO NOT try to jump back onto the platform, it is a great way to become a "screwdriver" (MTA term for when someone gets caught between the train and platform with their upper body above the platform as you can imagine the body gets twisted like a screw as the train pulls into a station).
Yes indeed. I'd never thought of that, but sure, provided of course that you are on the tracks at a station, not in between them, but I suppose one would never find oneself in that latter situation, unless one was Robert Shaw in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, in which case you'd just step on the third rail after having it affirmed to you by W. Matthau that the state of New York had no death penalty, in one of 70s filmdom's more memorable moments.
As to avoiding the risk of being pushed by a crazy person onto the tracks, Greenlake's straightforward admontion to stand far from the edge and keep an eye out was always my practice as well. That was for New York, when I lived there. In Washington, the biggest threat is that someone might sneeze on you. But even that has never happened.
In fairness to the Big Apple, though, I have to say that my subway record there was entirely without incident during my entire 18 years of living there, even as I tempted fate on many an occasion. Without getting too specific, let us just say that I lived in New York as a young man and was known to enjoy an evening out in Manhattan libating with my friends and then stumbling toward my Brooklyn-bound train. After one such night of merriment, I woke up at a station completely unfamiliar to me.
Inspecting the map, I discovered that I was in the Bronx, which appeared to mean that I'd fallen asleep, ridden the train all the way out to the end of the line in Brooklyn, and then stayed asleep as the train worked its way back up to El Bronx. This was in the late 80s, when, according to tabloid headlines, to engage in such behavior was to sign one's death warrant, or at least to ensure that one woke up wallet-less. But no one so much as breathed on me. Nothing quite builds up one's faith in his fellow man as an episode like that. Beautiful town, New York.
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