Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mind the gap

So, yes. I was on the Metro train that ran over the 68-year-old woman yesterday. About 2½ of the train’s packed cars had reached the platform when it came to stop that was abrupt enough to cause some inexperienced riders to topple over. We waited quietly for a few minutes before they turned the train and track’s power off. Standing next to the door and without the engines running I could hear people screaming for help. Even though our car was still pretty deep into the tunnel, it was clear something was wrong.

It was probably because I was so close to the door but it seemed that I was the only person in my car that something was amiss. The other passengers’ cheerful spirit resisted any developing concern. Even after the air circulation had been turned off for ten minutes, none of the chatter was about when we were going to start moving or what the problem was or how come no one in charge was talking to us. Everyone was upbeat and very obliging. It wasn’t until a metro official worked his way back to our car and told us to evacuate through the front of the train that a current of unease started to increase.

On the platform, we saw this.

It was clear that someone was or had been under the train. But while the police, uniformed Secret Service and Metro personal were still operating in a hurried manner there was no sense that this was a life or death situation. We were ushered off the platform with little explanation until the system-wide PA system announced (incorrectly, it turns out) that someone had been hit by a train.

The DCist reports on the quick-minded Houston transit cop saved her by sending under the platform’s lip. And Houston doesn’t even have a subway.

This morning, I tried to explain to the G how to drive through a road block if she’s being chased by the police. She had no interest in my lesson. But had I been a Houston transit cop, she would have been all ears.

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