Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Riverbrook Station

Riverbrook never had a station before so they had to improvise as it went along. They used confident bidders, domestic steel and concrete to erect a long platform. They screened all their conductors thoroughly, even though the railway provided them. They made the right deals with Amtrak and some stations to the north to assure reliable service.

And then on opening day a little boy leaned over the platform to watch the train come. His mother was preoccupied with The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The boy did not pull back soon enough – which is to say, he didn’t pulled back at all. It was a miracle he wasn’t killed. He was thrown thirty yards and was distinctly unaware of any miracles when he landed in poison sumac.

It was a horrible thing for Riverbrook. They apologized, made settlements and cleaned. They mourned, even though the boy was alive and from out of town.

Riverbrook put down bumpy yellow plastic to guide people away from the edge of the platform thereafter.

Plenty of people came to take the next train. They had lives. They rushed aboard, and teenage vacationer fell in the gap between the platform and the door. It took half an hour to get her leg free.

They wrote along the yellow bumpy plastic for people to “MIND THE GAP.” The station manager announced the same for the PA before every train.

Apparently this one girl from Florida missed the message and didn’t hear him. She was busy on her cell. She explained such as the station crew pried her knee from the gap.

So for the next day the station manager wandered the platform, explaining that some people had troubles boarding and to be very careful. Elderly patrons appreciated the attention, but some of the younger ones thought he was crazy and disregarded the message. One of them was threatening to sue twenty minutes later when he fell in all the way to the waist.

So the station manager and every free person on staff wandered the platform afterwards, making certain every single person had a thorough lecture on how to board a train. No one was allowed to board before they had all been lectured. It held up the rail schedule terribly. It also took so long that people who had been lectured grew impatient, missed some crucial step in the instructions, and three people stumbled into the gap that afternoon.

Conductors were ordered to carry everyone onto the train, as passengers clearly couldn’t be trusted with this kind of responsibility. But as Wesley Morgan carried his third passenger on board his back went out and he staggered backwards through the door. You can guess where his left foot went. He was the most pleasant of the gap-victims, though; he was looking forward to suing someone, and possibly retiring early.

The Riverbrook Station saw so many accidents that they were still unsafe by the time particle teleporters were introduced. The station manager happily handed over the keys to a physicist. He babbled warnings about queuing order how a size ten shoe can pass through a three inch space. The physicist shrugged him off and invited his first passenger. That was the first time any teleporter commuter ever lost a foot.


  1. I'm pretty sure Riverbrook i son my train route. *Sigh* It sounds just a little too familiar.

    Great job as usual, John. I grinned the whole way through.

  2. Passengers are incompetent by nature. Why do they even care to explain?

  3. Ah, brilliant stuff.

    I hear the 'Mind the Gap' announcements all the time on the London Underground, though in the older stations, the gap is more of a chasm.

  4. Awesome. That's the most cheerfully cursed train station ever.

    And it explains all the signs in the subway. I've just started taking a different train and I live in daily expectation of seeing a whole body shoot through the huge gap.


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