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past November. It took me a number of weeks to feel the stress slowly drain away; it helped to write down the experience and do some research on a rather grizzly topic in an attempt to rationalize a phenomenon I can barely fathom.
by Nomad on Fri Jan 11th, 2013 at 10:46:51 AM EST
I sympathize, I cannot imagine how it feels, how you feel.

But a good diary about a subject we would mostly pretend didn't exist.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jan 11th, 2013 at 11:01:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the point of writing diaries on ET?

Excellent writing, as usual, but I'm sorry about the harrowing experience.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 11th, 2013 at 02:34:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did the same five years ago, after I sat on a train that hit a car, when I wrote a diary on how running over people is experienced by locomotive drivers. This was after a little more than one year of being a daily commuter by train. Since then, I sat on the train during two suicides, and passed a third. Then one evening late last year, my train stopped on open track with emergency braking, then first the driver and the conductor, then police walked along its entire length with a flashlight, only to conclude after half an hour that the driver must have been mistaken because there was no corpse to be found (the conductor told me later). I think I grew jaded after so many events.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jan 11th, 2013 at 05:15:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those are some nasty experiences DoDo, sorry to hear. I do remember reading your first post, I was still rumbling around in South Africa at the time, but it looks I missed reading the ones that followed.

I tried responding about your comment about getting jaded, but it became an incoherent ramble. Perhaps a next time I can outline my tumble of thoughts...

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 09:22:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I should note that (1) my jadedness goes along with that "these aren't suicide victims but suicide culprits" attitude in one of my old comments, (2) I'm in no doubt that doing what the locomotive driver and the conductor have to do, checking for remains, would be a real shock.

BTW, you having mentioned South Africa, here is something completely different: have you heard of Rodriguez (or just heard his music) while there?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 02:54:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting bio, interesting voice too. But no, he was completely unknown to me until now. Sounds like the kind of music popular for on the road, and enjoyed mostly by Afrikaners.

With all due respect, it sounds old school, and most Afrikaners I met were all hooked on the popular international pop/rock bands, with the whole spectre of familiar names - from Muse to The Killers and what not. I found (South) African music, including a pinch of artists performing in Afrikaans, more interesting to explore. And if you use taxi's for transportation as I did, there's no escaping kwaito in all its eardrum rupturing manifestations...

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 07:24:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember a documentary on TV about train drivers who couldn't hold down their jobs anymore because of the trauma. Among other things they talked about the memory of the barbecue-like smell produced by the hot brakes. Apparently people need time off and counseling right away. Conductors too.

Once I sat in a train that was just starting when the driver hit the emergency brake. Some imbecile, a guy in his late twenties (he really seemed mentally deficient), tried to catch the departing train by crossing the tracks right in front of it. The driver or the conductor (don't remember exactly who), extremely agitated, started yelling at the idiot's face, something about having to pick up human pieces, and threw his keys around. He had just been back from some time off after a deadly incident. The idiot was left with the police who had been called and after a half an hour the train left.

by epochepoque on Sat Jan 12th, 2013 at 02:55:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I've smelled that too - but wasn't sure whether it was a nasty figment of my imagination... My girlfriend has a better nose than I have, and didn't notice it at the time.

Without pointing fingers, I've been surprised since that the train company had so little to no outreach to passengers on possible trauma. Nor did I get the impression that there was a ready-made script for the passengers transported away from the scene - hundreds of people were dumped on a deserted train station, all connecting trains had left, not announcements or supervision were made, it took another hour (3 hours after the incident) before an alternative shuttle was arranged. For a company that deals with hundreds of suicides per year, it all took me as surprising, in retrospect.

by Nomad on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 09:30:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The lack of a psychological approach towards the passengers is indeed surprising, if there is a (however imperfect) policy for crew. But the traffic situation might be an indcation of other things: a lean operation with little or no emergency consists where the default is to expect stranded passengers to board the next train (even if it is already full), a system in which those stranded with the last train of the day fare especially bad.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 03:13:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition to suicides and crazy drivers, the third group of casualties I'm more angry at than symphatetic is people with total disregard of basic traffic and safety rules, so basic I remember learning them in first elementary. Almost five years ago, I wrote another diary on this with some case studies (thankfully none of them personally witnessed). I'm still non-plussed about most of those cases. Then again, having re-read the 1975 book quote in my above linked diary from a year earlier, I see such basic disregard is not exclusive to the youth of today (I mean that old man having his meal sitting on the rail and standing up just in time).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 14th, 2013 at 03:03:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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