Fate, Timing, and Last-Minute Decisions…
Posted: September 14, 2008 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Chatworth, death, fate, Los Angeles, Metrolink, tragedy, train crash, train wreck
Photo by LKHo - LATimes
This is my train. You might remember my last blog entry, You Can’t Get There From Here, where I posted my adventures in trying the use the Metrolink to get around this large city of ours.
The train car you see before you was number one of three. The car I sit in is the one behind it, number two. I usually sit on the top level with my back facing our direction of travel. Why? For the same reason I sit at the back of planes. I figure my chances of survival are a wee bit better than average. With the Metrolink you can be hit from either end, so I figured the middle was safer. I really figured there wasn’t really a chance in hell that I’d be in an accident where it mattered, but…
Friday’s are a funny day for me. I teach at a local community college in and then go into the City (Los Angeles) for a night shift. I’ve recently taken on enough responsibility there (in the City job) that they’ve offered me the chance to work from home. So, as of last week Wednesday, the plan was for me to teach, then to drive to my hometown (Simi Valley) and hop on the train into LA. That’d get me there in time to pack my portable hard drive with stuff to take home to work from home for the weekend.
Yesterday, however, I was feeling a bit tired and decided to drive instead of take public transport – which on the outside seems a bit conterintuitive. That decision probably saved my life, or at least saved me from injury. Had I taken public transport there was a better than even chance that I would have been on the upper level of car #2 on train #111 when it impacted with the Union Pacific train at a combined speed of about 80 MPH.
All last night and today I have been seeing in my mind the faces of the people with whom I’ve ridden that same train. The nice lady from London who shared recipes with me and joked about “sunny Blackpool” (you need to have lived in England to understand the joke). The kind of annoying business-suit guy who frowned at me each time I got on board. The friendly cyclist who chatted me up two weeks back. The really nice train lady who checked my ticket and reminded me to keep my feet off of the seat in front of me. I wonder if they’re alive tonight?
I have been torn. I did search and rescue for eleven years. I am also an EMT, trained to respond to emergencies. I like to think that I would have been helpful, could have provided some relief to fellow passengers who were suffering and dying. I hope so. I’ll never know.
Tonight: writing and gaining perspective.