The announcement came over the train intercom. “Pedestrian incident.” My suburban rail train, which in the Chicago area is called Metra, would be sitting awhile. And as everyone realized it, they started to groan.
A “pedestrian incident” is a euphemism for when someone has jumped (or, in rare cases, fell or was pushed) in front of a train and been struck. As you might guess, it’s rare the victim survives. And when this incident happens, the authorities have a number of things they have to do (such as, say, investigation and cleanup) before they can let trains through. And so you have no choice but to sit on the train and wait until it finally moves again.
How you handle this time is up to you. This is what I did.
1. Say a prayer for the victim. You may not know whether he’s dead, but you have a good guess. (In this case, he was.)
2. Get out the Kindle Fire and start reading. I read two issues of Time and two of Sports Illustrated. I also plugged the Kindle Fire, which needed a charge, and my phone, which always needs a charge, into my multiple USB charger, which went into the train’s outlet.
3. Trade texts with dad. “Got a travel pillow?” he asked. “Hardy har har,” I replied.
4. Post of being stuck to Facebook. Friend suggests I buy a jetpack to avoid the daily ride.
5. Watch as people trying to get rides home (as their stops are much closer than mine) wander through the train, yapping on the phone. Remark with other people who aren’t moving about how you should have bought dinner to take on the train, but you didn’t, and now you are very hungry.
6. Listen to the frustrated conductor repeatedly inform us he doesn’t know when we’ll be moving again either. Hope the conductors are eligible for overtime pay, because they’ll definitely be working overtime hours.
7. Get tired of reading. Watch Netflix on phone instead. Hee hee, Britcoms.
After an agonizing three hours (a train ride is normally 50 or so minutes if I’m on an express), my train pulled into my station. It was quarter to 9, and I still hadn’t had dinner. So I zipped across the street to my parking lot, got in the car, and drove directly to a pizza-by-the-pizza place that has them ready to go.
“Whatcha got?” I asked the counter guy. He answered something. “I’ll take it.”
It was half gone in five minutes. I think it had sausage on it.