Riding the Harlem Line in the fall… it is sort of like this (in case you missed it on twitter last night):
In fact my ride home last night was quite a lot like that. We are in the season of falling leaves, and slippery rails. By all means most seasoned train riders are familiar with this phenomenon. But if you aren’t, every year Metro-North always puts together a nice little explanation about it. Just make sure you don’t add to the problems by throwing your banana peels and/or foil-wrapped lobsters on the railroad tracks.
One of the things I hate more than being dull and serious is a late train. To amuse myself while waiting for late trains, I began using twitter to invent odd reasons for the lateness. Derailed circus trains, planking customers, and rabid pigeons have all been presented as reasons for lateness, despite their relative insanity. Although it started as a joke, I now feel the obligation to come up with something crazy every time I hear there is a late train.
Below you will find some of my favorite nonsensical tweets about late trains, several of which have been designed to annoy @MetroNorthTweet. Over the years, Metro North’s twitter account has been operated by several individuals – the most recent of which has decided twitter is absolutely pointless and is not a platform in which customers can be helped. Their current modus operandi is to copy and paste to everyone “call 511, idiots, twitter sucks.” The new tweeter also made it a point to unfollow me, though to my immense amusement they are still best pals with @fuckedcommuter. A fine endorsement for the railroad, I see. If you want to read more about my thoughts on Metro-North’s attempts at social media, you can find it here. But now, onto the insanity:
Note: Gregory, occasional blog reader, railfan, and photographer was that week arrested for train photography at the Virginia Road crossing in North White Plains. He claimed that while this was all ensuing, police asked him if he knew “the cat girl.”
Based upon a factual incident, where 3 young females attempted to fit into an M3 bathroom. Clearly they should have waited for a train using M7 equipment.
By all means, if you have a suggestion for a future reason for a “train delay” – please comment. And if you’re not following me on twitter, you totally should.
Will someone please remind me, what month is this? Just a few days ago riders on the Harlem Line were suffering delays due to fallen leaves on the tracks. Now we have to worry about a massive snowstorm that has blanketed the area, knocking out power for many residents of both Connecticut and New York. The Harlem Line is notorious for its falling trees in heavy storms, and this snowstorm was no different. Service from North White Plains to Wassaic has been suspended for almost 24 hours now due to fallen trees. Grand Central was open throughout the night for stuck passengers – they were probably more lucky than the riders that found themselves stuck on a train yesterday evening. I did manage to dig up a photograph of yesterday’s storm damage, a photo from Hawthorne.
I am the Abominable Snowman, and I have shit snow on you, Harlem Line.
Hopefully service will be restored by tomorrow morning. In the interim, the now useless @MetroNorthTweet (who has given up on attempting to be useful on Twitter, such a shame) advises you to call 511 for absolutely everything – especially if you have any Abominable Snowman sightings to report.
Edit: Metro-North says normal Monday morning service is a go from Southeast on down the line. There will be bus service for stations north of Southeast.
If you haven’t heard, quiet cars will be coming to Metro-North. Conceptually it is a great idea. In practice, well, we’ll see how it works. Passengers prove time and time again that they will pretty much do whatever the hell they want – whether it be putting their feet on the seats, or “cleverly” attempting to dispose of their garbage by dropping it in the gap at the next station stop. Unfortunately “policing” these quiet cars may fall to the conductors, which already get enough crap from many disgruntled train riders. I am imagining a scenario that will inevitably happen at one time or another: a businessman that gets on the train and insists he needs to have a cell-phone conference call. As the train is packed, the only available seat is in the quiet car. Because he’s paid Metro-North several hundred dollars for a monthly pass, he feels he deserves that seat, and the fact that it is in a quiet car doesn’t concern him.
There are a couple things that amuse me about the initiation of this quiet car program. Firstly, on the Harlem Line, the quiet cars will be on Wassaic trains. Clearly, whoever thought this up has never been on a Wassaic train. If you’re not familiar with the people that I’ve dubbed “the Wassaic people” – they never talk on the train. The trains are always quiet. On the rare occasion that I miss my normal train, I can board a train that originates in Wassaic and happens to stop at Goldens Bridge. If I even say good morning to the conductor taking my ticket, those Wassaic people shoot daggers at me with their eyes. I’m not sure about whatever other trains have been assigned quiet cars, and whether there are odd folks on the Hudson Line that we can call “those Poughkeepsie people.”
The second thing that somewhat amuses me about these quiet cars are the “shhhh cards.” If you are making noise in the quiet car, conductors may give you a specially printed card that they hope will make you pipe down. I got my hands on a few of these cards today, and you can see a preview of them here:
If you ask me, these are a little bit too subtle. This may actually work better:
Metro-North, I fixed that for ya
As far as I am aware, one shh card does not put you in “the penalty box” nor does two get you ejected from the train. A shame, as sports references generally help people to understand “difficult” subjects.
When it comes to my home station of Goldens Bridge, I like to think that I am observant to the changes that happen there. I usually notice when, at some point during the day, maintenance workers have been at the station (still repairing that winter damage to the yellow tactile stripping, I see. Perhaps it will be done by this winter?). I usually notice when people plaster the walls with various bits of propaganda. I definitely notice when the drunks kick the windows in, or the degenerate neighborhood youths graffiti up the station. I disgustedly notice the colonies of spiders that have made the station their home, and am mildly amused when they drop onto unsuspecting commuters waiting on the platform (but am less amused when it happens to me).
So when post-it notes began popping up in the evenings at the station, I noticed. They were everywhere. Even if you are not one of the observant riders, you probably noticed. Someone is trying to send a message to another commuter – and I attempted to imagine who was crafting these notes, and for whom they were posted. Beyond the fact that the creator has an English deficiency, I didn’t get too far with my pointless musings. Alright, maybe I was imagining in my head my roommate doing this, before heading to work at whatever gentleman’s club she is now employed. I’m glad whoever came to clean up the post-its had a sense of humor: they got rid of all the grammatically poor and overly sentimental notes, and kept my “fixed that for you” note.
However, if you ask me, we should begin a post-it revolution. Grab a pad, write something amusing, slap it somewhere in the station. We can certainly come up with better and more entertaining notes that at least have appropriately-placed apostrophes. Sure, it leaves more for those cleaning people to pick up (Whenever they actually come to the station, that is. Hell, while they’re at it, they can wash the windows so we don’t have to see crude phallic sketches in the layers of dust!), but it is less work than cleaning up graffiti. And it is somewhat amusing. Or at least I think so. But considering how easily amused I am, I may not be a good judge of that. Seriously though, let’s start a revolution to amuse people while they wait on the platform. Some of you sour-pusses certainly need it – after you finish up your breakfasts of lemons, of course.
Hello readers. I know you’re out there. You send me emails sometimes (and occasionally freak me out, yes, I’m looking at you, person who divulged their fantasies of doing nasty things on trains. Why?!) And I sure as heck know you’re searching in Google. I have mentioned it previously, but the things that people type into search engines are incredibly hilarious. And the things that people type in to find this site, well, needless to say, I question the sanity of my readers sometimes. But there are also times you guys ask me some valid questions, so I figured I’d put together a post combining some real answers along with some real “what the hell?” type moments.
Searching the crazy internet
Some “well-educated” internet searches
If you had to take a guess as to the number one thing that people have been searching for (in google and other search engines), and finding this site, what would it be? If you said Hermon Raju, then you would be totally correct. When I first posted about this “well-educated” Metro-North rider, I refused to mention her name. But since she has not only publicly admitted that the woman in the video was her, tried to hire a PR rep to repair her reputation, and went on record saying that she feels she was “raped by the internet,” I’m pretty much declaring her fair game. All of the terms below wound up bringing people to this site, so I must say, Hermon Raju, thank you for the visitors! Despite how well-educated you think you are, you clearly didn’t have the sense to just keep your mouth shut… not only on the train, but also by making yourself again a news story by searching for a person to “repair your reputation.”
educated girl yelling at conductor
educated woman kicked off train
well-educated train rider
crazy lady arguing with conductor
followup to educated obnoxious woman onthe metro north train
identity of the “well-educated” women who snap on metro-north
lady with an education arguing with train conductor in ny
metro north commuter well educated identity
mta girl well educated metro north
woman arguing on metro north train identified
do you know how well-educated i am, i ride the harlem line
rude woman in metro educated
train rider more educated than you
viral woman arguing with train employee
And for everyone other than Raju that is looking for yet another laugh, rumor has it the conductor in the video was reprimanded for not wearing her hat at the time. Oh, Metro North. Always thinking about the important stuff.
You seriously typed that into a search engine? WTF-worthy searches:
Sometimes when I look at these search keyword lists, I sincerely worry about the people that are inhabiting this planet we call Earth. Apparently the intelligence level of some of the inhabitants is dangerously low. I can’t believe people typed in this stuff:
body of drunk found in wassaic
wetting my panties on the train story
cool lesbian on a train
getting my 6th gun in westchester county
girls doing the cat work with metro north
groping on bus and train vids
japan fuck on a subway train
Questions that people search for:
How do you ride free on metro north?
There are a lot of strategies for riding free on trains. My best suggestion is for you to ride in the sixth car of an eight car train, and to look for the special conductor’s bathrooms. People always try to hide in the regular bathrooms, and not only do they smell, you will most likely have some people bothering you at some point. However, nobody ever looks in the conductor’s bathroom. If you knock on the door a few times, usually the door will pop open with no trouble, and you can hide in there for as long you want. Enjoy the free ride! In case you weren’t sure what a conductor’s bathroom looks like, I have a picture for you.
Ignore the window – it is just there to throw you off
Do you have to pay to ride mta from harlem to grand central?
Not if you follow the steps listed above.
Is it safe at goldens bridge train station?
The good majority of Harlem Line stations are fairly safe. I wouldn’t worry about much at Goldens Bridge – but if you see a guy that looks like Santa Claus hanging around, I’d probably run away. He has been known to show up at the station with no pants on, and is miserably drunk about 99% of the time. Don’t worry – he can barely walk, let alone run!
Does the harlem line have bathrooms in the train?
Provided that no dipshit is hiding in it to get a free ride, yes the trains do have bathrooms.
Do sketchy people board the harlem train line?
Well, it depends on what you mean by sketchy. If your definition of sketchy includes women who push their cats around in baby carriages, then yes, sketchy people do board trains. My personal favorites, however, are the artistic types that sketch people on the train (though I guess they would be sketching people and not sketchy). You can find a few ofthem online, but my favorite is James Napoleon who sketched me one morning a few months ago.
Is being a metro north conductor a shit job?
Difficult question! Conductors certainly get paid more than I do, as well as get a whole lot more vacation and sick days than me. But they also have long hours, and are harassed by people like Hermon Raju. And people that don’t want to pay the fare. And people that are drunk and vomit everywhere. And people that can and will harass them with racial epithets. Do I need to continue? As passengers we merely observe these people. Conductors have to deal with them.
Plus, somebody needs to get your drunk ass home on days like New Years, so conductors are often stuck working holidays. As a public worker, the salaries of conductors are also publicly available on the internet. Inevitably, at least once every year, some media outlet will write a story complaining about how much money conductors make, much of it in overtime. What they fail to realize is that these conductors work every day of the week, and every holiday. They have no days off. Sure, it is by choice, but if (for example) you are trying to pay your kid’s way through college and you’re offered overtime, wouldn’t you take it? Honestly, I think the weekends are probably the only thing that keep me relatively sane – I can’t even begin to imagine working every day nonstop for months.
Other questions & things…
What kind of camera do you use?
Because I post so many photos, this is one of the most common questions I get from people. I’m also asked how I do my panoramas, and why I don’t use a panorama viewer (like this) to present them. Firstly, I don’t use a fancy camera, nor a fish-eye lens. Any distortions are based upon the stitching process (which I use Photoshop for). My main camera is a Fujifilm HS10, and I have a waterproof Fujifilm Z33WP which I carry around in the rain and snow. As for panoramas – photography is a lot about capturing a freeze-frame of something you see with your eyes, and panorama viewers tend to mimic how the eye sees, except with a large vista. I rather like making long and semi-distorted panoramas solely because they are not something you can see with your own eyes as a normal human being.
Where do you get your hats from?
Almost all of my hats come from Boshi Basiik. Susan Nguyen is both wonderful and talented, and has created a few custom hats for me. Not only are they quality made, they are also affordable. And no, this is not a paid advertisement, I just think that Boshi Basiik is that cool.
Why do you like the Harlem Line?
Why is water wet? Why is the sky blue? Why are you asking me silly questions? How could you not be a fan of New York City’s oldest railroad? Maybe I like it because it was the first railroad I was ever a passenger on. I’m not really sure. All I know is that when I started this website, it was about the crazy people I observed, not about the railroad itself. Somewhere along the way I fell in love with the history, and maybe even the saga of the Upper Harlem (even though it didn’t have a happy ending).
In case you are unaware, I just wanted to let you all know that on Metro-North cows do not count as pets. People can, and do, take both dogs and cats on the train. That is a normal occurrence. However, one of my favorite questions to ask Metro-North employees is what is the craziest item you’ve ever seen a passenger attempt to bring on the train? I’ve heard quite the array of answers, from patio sets to snowblowers to sheetrock. Animals occasionally factor in – snakes, iguanas, (live) chickens… there are rumors of a goat on the Upper Harlem, but I’ve found no one to confirm this.
Anyone who is employed by Metro-North’s customer relations department is bound to have quite the experience in being asked some pretty crazy questions. I know that in my short stint as a phone tech in a computer service center I was asked (and told) some pretty crazy things. Thankfully, I’ve been on the opposite side of customer service questions for quite a few years. I am the stupid customer. Or perhaps more apt – the trickster.
Trouble always seems to be two steps behind me, and I can’t resist playing a little joke every now and again. In this case, I couldn’t resist messing around with @MetroNorthTweet – Metro-North’s presence on the social-media site Twitter. I will not lie – I was aware that Ted, the normal person behind @MetroNorthTweet, was not around and another person would be monitoring the account. Yeah, that probably played a little part…
First, I had to set the stage. I’m so proud of myself, I thought of this on the train platform.
Now, I assure you, I had no intentions of messing with @MetroNorthTweet solely to post it here. Just the fact that other people started chiming in made me decide later on that I should post this. In fact, it was probably the highlight of my day! Thanks Metro-North, and Chamelle for being such a good sport!
When I started this blog, the majority of it was observations about people I saw on the train, or while waiting for trains. I haven’t really done a post about my observations lately, but for the most part the majority of things I see are remembered as short tidbits, and nothing worth writing an entire post about. If I actually kept a diary, tidbits like these would likely be found inside… just quick thoughts about the things and people that surround me on a day-to-day basis. As I don’t really have anything to post today, I figured I’d leave you with a collection of some of my recent thoughts while riding the train. But rest assured, I am currently working on a pretty big project for the site, and when I (hopefully) debut it next week, I think you’ll all be pretty pleased.
People leave things on the train all the time. I was just thinking the other day, if someone was about to forget their phone, or bag, or wallet, I’d ask them if it were theirs, so they don’t get off the train without it. But then I realized what a terrible person I am – if you were about to forget a bag from Junior’s the only thing I’d say is, “that’s mine!” I don’t want your wallet, or your laptop. Just give me your cheesecake.
Sometimes the guy in the ticket booth at White Plains gets rather excited when he announces trains. Once I heard, “Now on trrrrack one is the train going to… nowhere. Never mind. This train only goes to North White Plains,” and, “Nooooooooowww on trrrrrack one is the 5:59 local trrrrrain to Southeast, making all local stops. Yes, this train will be making all the stops you know and love. Trrrrrrrack one.” I haven’t heard him lately, though. I wonder where he is.
When my train passes Mount Kisco in the evening, there is usually this dark-haired woman named Christine on the platform. I know nothing other than her name, and that she likes to laugh. Sometimes when the doors open I poke my head out and say, “Hello Christine.” I gave her my little card that has this website’s address on it once. Maybe she’s reading this right now. Hello, Christine!
Sometimes I see this girl on the platform when I wait for the train in the morning. She looks like she is in her early twenties, and has quite the assortment of Nike shoes and athletic attire. The only time we ever spoke was when she was drinking a bottle of soda and dropped the cap. We both watched, it was like slow motion, the cap hit the platform and rolled precariously close to the edge. I think I said to her, “Wow. I really thought that was going to fall!”
I have an overactive imagination. I also have a bad habit when I observe people, determining who they seem to resemble physically, and calling them that in my mind thence forward. Regular riders of my morning train are an older Sarah Palin, and an Amy Winehouse – minus the drugs.
I like to read books on the train, and I try to read a book per week. After calculating it out, I really only spend about six hours per week on the train – three of which are reading, and three of which are bullshitting with other people. It isn’t a lot of time when I compare it to hours using the computer. I probably am using the computer for ten hours, if not more, each week day. This is probably why I gained twenty pounds after graduating college.
Usually the train I take in the evening uses M3 equipment… though very rarely we have an M7 instead. The M7’s have that nice seat adjacent to the conductor’s cab, it is dark and quiet and away from all the other people. When I got on the train there was an old man sitting there. The next stop the train was going to be making was a short platform, so the conductor told people in the back of the train to move forward. A woman went to do just that, and the old man sitting by the door there just flipped out. “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK THAT SIGN IS THERE FOR?!?!” he shouted, while pointing at the sign to not cross through the cars while the train is in motion. The woman looked so afraid, like she was almost going to wet herself. The old man was relentless. Later on, after the old man had gotten off, I asked the conductor if he knew who he was. He told me the man worked for Metro North’s safety department. Too bad that detail was conveniently left out of his diatribe. I always wondered if she complained about the crazy man on her train…
In reality this cat’s name is Henry, and he is awesome
Walking to the train station the other day, this strange animal ran out in front of me. It took me a few moments to realize it was a cat, and not an ordinary cat, a three-legged cat. If I had a three-legged cat, I’d name him Tripod.
Sometimes the bus driver really freaks me out. One of these days he’s really going to flip the bus over. A few days ago he accidentally hit the curb so hard I was slammed into the window… and I have a several inch long bruise on my arm to prove it.
I follow @OWNEYtheDOG on twitter. For those who don’t know, Owney was a real dog that used to ride on mail trains back in the day. Owney was apparently murdered – shot dead, and was later brought to the taxidermist. He’s on display at the Post Office Museum in Washington DC. The thing that freaks me out is that whoever does the twitter posts as if they were that stuffed dog. This disturbs me. Even taxidermied dogs are on twitter! Next thing you know, my mother will be on there.
I’m used to people telling me that they like my hat. It does freak me out when they sneak up behind me and attempt to whisper it in my ear. Most especially if they reek of alcohol. However, the thing I really don’t get is why people during the summer ask me where my hat is. I may like hats, but I’m not an idiot.
My grandmother is wonderful. I think it takes only a little sip of alcohol to make her tipsy. She tells lots of good stories then… stories about the original Penn Station, of taking the train all over the country in the ’40s, being afraid her train was going to fall off the Horseshoe Curve… How she’d take the kids on the train and buy the cheaper child ticket, even though some of the kids were too old. Of course my one uncle would admit such to the conductor… the other just had such a bad temper, my grandmother told me she’d buy him rubber dog toys to take for the ride, he’d break all the regular toys.
When I get a text message, my phone makes the sound the M7 trains make. It baffles people at work meetings. It really baffles them when I’m riding my usual train – an M3. But then someone decides they’ll text me five times in quick succession. Then I just look like an idiot.
Everyone always wants to blame Metro-North, but sometimes it is the passengers’ fault that the train is late… like the time there was a man standing in the doorway that refused to move. Despite the conductor yelling at him, he still stalled the train.
I heard some news about banning smoking on the platform. I like this idea. I’d rather not be subjected to your disgusting and headache-inducing habit. Inevitably someone complains about the thought and says, “Remember when they even had smoking cars?” You know what I remember? The tar-black ceiling of Grand Central when I was a kid… all from cigarette smoke. Ah, yes. Nostalgia.
If I had to pick the station with the most obnoxious people, I’d likely pick White Plains. They are like animals there. They’ll push anybody over to board that train, even a little old lady with a cane. Because it is such a populated station, there are always going to be people running for the train and not quite making it. If the conductor kept the doors open for all of them, the train would never leave. When this happens the person usually shouts profanities at the conductor, and probably writes an angry note to Metro-North (I don’t think I could be a conductor, I don’t have thick enough skin). The most amusing part is that White Plains has the most trains of any station on the Harlem Line. In rush hour, there is another train in just five minutes. Is it really worth all that anger?
It is amusing to me how many people still attempt the old trick of hiding in the bathroom to evade paying the fare. Conductors should have mops available on all trains to give to these people. If they aren’t going to pay, and they are going to be in the bathroom, they might as well clean the damn thing while they are there.
Do you want to let everyone on the train know how well educated you are? Some “well educated” fashion may be just what the conductor ordered… It has always been my dream to have a “stupid people” clothing line… actually, no, I just made that up. But here are three delightful shirts that you can actually own – you can not only be the most well educated train rider, but by far the most fashionable!
Interested in being the best-dressed on your train? Get your own shirt by clicking on the design you want below!
When you carry thousands of people together in a tin can, you are inevitably going to have some that don’t exactly know what to do with themselves. Some people read, some people mess around on their iPads, or even listen to music. But then there are also some idiots that can’t help writing things on the advertisements. Metro-North is usually really good about defaced advertisements, somebody usually takes them down after a short time. But every time I see one, I usually snap a photo. Here is a little collection of randomness, of stupid things people have done to posters on the train, and other stuff. I do claim responsibility for the dog in the Conductor’s cab, but all the rest are things I just happened to see while riding the train…
Bob the builder needs a beer after riding all day on the crazy train.
This dog was found hiding inside a conductor’s cab
My name is Emily, though I am known by many who ride the train simply as Cat Girl, for the hats I customarily wear during the winter time. I am a graphic designer, a former Metro North commuter and lifelong Harlem Line rider. This site is a collection of my usually train-related thoughts, observations, photographs, and travels, as well as my never-ending hunt for intriguing historical artifacts.