As a blogger you are always tempted to comment on everything but what can I say about suicide that has not already been said? I doubt if I worked at it for a year I could come up with one original take on this subject. I know enough to know that I should say very little here about what has occurred so I will be brief.
This weekend a Max Train operator was the unwitting participant in a suicide. Train operators are selected from bus drivers and we share the same community, I know many of them and I can tell you that when someone takes their life by stepping in front of your train it’s never easy. Some handle it better than others but it always affects them, even those that don’t admit it.
Both bus drivers and max operators live in fear of that day, the day where a ride turns fatal. That the actions of another hastens this day is depressing to contemplate and devastating to witness. Often train operators look these suicides right in the eye as they perform their last mortal action.
I know what I’m about to say may sound strange but faith is a major part of operating a train. In a bus we have more control but in a train you have to have faith, faith that a signal is working as you approach it at forty miles per hour, faith that people will stand back on a platform or hold their kids, faith that cars will stop at lights. A suicide breaks our faith and you realize that this could happen everyplace you go. Nothing stands between the front of your bus or train but the good will of people.
You see we are told again and again over the years that we are responsible for our ride, that it all hinges on us. To tell a Max operator or Bus Driver when something like this goes wrong that “Oh this isn’t your fault” seems like a lie when all you have ever been told is the opposite since the time you walked in the bullpen doors at Center Garage where we all started.
To see beyond all the guilt, the shock and the breaking of faith is just a first step on the road to recovery. Some operators recover slowly, some pretend to recover, others never really recover, some never operate or drive again.
I know Trimets detractors and management may not understand this but every time there is a fatality of any kind involving trains or busses there is a ripple touching all of the operator/driver community. We all feel it, though not so much as the person on the spot. It is as if we are surrounded by some crazy invisible constrictor holding in it’s tight coils. We seek solace in one another, we reflect on our own actions, we see ourselves behind the wheel, or at the controls and we know, that it could have been us.
For this max train operator I can only say that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Do not let the selfish act of others decide your fate. The world is full of choices and not all of them are the choices we would want others to make, we can’t let those people steer our world. Hug your family, talk to your fellow drivers, let time heal.
Roll Easy Out There