zen.org Communal Weblog

March 20, 2005

Enough to mess with your mind

Filed under: — brendan @ 14:50 IST

Dublin’s commuter rail, the DART, runs between Greystones south of Dublin up to Malahide north of the city. A few days ago I was riding the DART and listening to Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code podcast. The route stays uncovered, but often cuts its way through hills and sometimes just beneath street level. The train had just left the Blackrock station and I watched the scenery change out the window.

As we started to work up some speed (this isn’t the TGV), I looked across the other set of tracks and saw someone up on the grass at the top edge of the wall. He had a blue long-sleeve shirt and didn’t look much older than thirty. He was in a crouch position, his feet and hands on the grass with his knees bent. He kept leaning over enough so he could see ahead on the track—to where a train would be coming in the opposite direction. He sure didn’t look like he was there to watch it go by. Then in a blink we’d passed him.

I was hit with an awful dread of seeing a mash of green siding and passengers the image of ghosts go rushing by. Luckily nothing appeared on the other track and we made it to the next station. I was able to get out and run up to the front car, where the conductor’s head was leaning out of the window, watching for the last person to board the train. I told the him what I’d seen, and he said someone jumped on his route only a few weeks ago. Random thoughts ran through my head: I wonder what sort of counseling employees get when someone pulls such a stunt? What did he see when it happened?

He thanked me for the information and said he’d call it in. Did I know exactly where it was? Not really, but I could give a rough description of its position relative to the Blackrock station.

I got back on board and sat down; we started to move again. A couple of minutes later, there was an intermittent blaring of the horn and a train headed in the other direction slowly came to a stop alongside us. I was relieved to see its conductor lean out of his window to talk to the driver of my train for at least a couple of minutes. They said some closing comments, and both trains continued on their way. And maybe my hunch was wrong.

But I don’t think so. I do know my hesitation reporting what I’d seen weirded me out—all I kept thinking of was hearing of disruption (again) on the DART line because someone had committed suicide on the tracks. Seeing clear as day in my mind the person it would have involved. I hope they got to him—even more than hoping he changed his mind and disappeared; it would leave open the chance he’d give it another try.

And there wouldn’t be such a time gap between passing trains.

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