In which our intrepid explorer does that thing you’ve always been dying to do, and survives to tell the tale!
So last night, I am getting off the PATH like I normally do. For those of you who don’t normally ride the PATH – homeward bound, Journal Square is the final stop on the train – they make an announcement the train is out of service, and make sure everyone gets off.
After several lost bags and accessories, I have learned to always check behind me as I am leaving a train. As I walk off, I am searching for my hat. I cast a glance back, see my hat on the floor, as I hear the bell for the door closing.
I realize that if those doors close, I will never see my hat again, so I lurch back through, and grab my hat, then spin as the doors shut in my face. I am now on the train, and everyone on the platform is staring at me. And then the train starts leaving.
I have no freaking clue where this train is going. I have no freaking clue if they do another passenger check after they take the train to wherever they are taking it to. For all I know, they could hit the lights, grab a sandwich, and call it a night. Maybe this train won’t be used again for A WEEK. Maybe they will decommission it. Twenty years from now, some historical train enthusiast will open it up, and find my withered skeleton, clutching a white crocheted beret and a copy of “Life of Pi”.
I look left. I see the red brake hanging there, tempting me. I bite my lip, ask myself, “Does this qualify as an emergency?” I answer, “O HELLS YES,” and yank that sucker.
I can’t believe how quickly the train stopped (Fiance Kaboom! later explained to me that cord drops an anchor immediately from the car I am in). One second we were gaining speed, the next we have stopped. Everyone on the platform is now gaping at me. I sheepishly tap on the doors and mouth “HALP.”
An older passenger walks over to the doors, and starts trying to talk to me. However, at this point the brake has started squealing inside the car, and consequently I can’t make out a word he is saying. I shrug a few times, and gesticulate “I CAN’T HEAR YOU,” and proceed to wait, assuming someone is going to come see what the trouble is.
After about 3 minutes, no one has come. It occurs to me that there has to be a conductor on this train, and he has to be in the front of the train. Though I am leery of the brake (it is still squealing, and somewhere in my mind I have the crazy notion it might explode), I duck past it, and start making my way to the front of the train.
Sure enough, I encounter the conductor about a car away from the front, and he is making his way back. I brace myself for yelling – I am sure pulling the e-brake is no laughing matter, am preparing to defend myself against his onslaught of questions as to what I was doing on an out-of-service train in the first place. However, he doesn’t say a thing to me – just barely acknowledges my presence, as I listen to a woman on his radio instruct “The brake was pulled on the back car!” (In hindsight, it occurs to me that this may be because he was actually at fault in the situation. Normally, the conductor passes through all cars before they leave the platform, which didn’t happen in this case).
He nods at me as I quickly mumble something about my hat, and lets me out. I gratefully step onto the platform. A heavyset woman sitting on a bench is laughing. “Girl fell asleep on the train!” she points out to a friend (not true!). As I head up the stairs, another passenger sees me, and asks if I pulled the e-brake. I tell him I did, and give him a short explanation. I notice there is a look of pure awe on his face.
It is at this point I realize what I have just done. I got to pull the e-brake. EVERYONE wants to pull the e-brake. I confirm to myself that it was kind of awesome, though I do start to feel a little bad for the 20 minute delay I most surely caused in the process.
But yeah. Emergency brake. I pulled it.