Counting down the 12 most popular posts of 2011, Part 1

2011 was certainly a whirlwind of a year. The site found itself featured in the New York Times, and I even had a radio interview. There were visits to lots of interesting places: train stations in Quebec, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, and non train related spots like an ice hotel, and the final space shuttle launch. In February we finished up our tour of the Harlem Line, and by May began our tour of the New Haven Line. As we head boldly into the new year, hoping for many new and wonderful adventures, I thought I’d take the time to check out the top 12 things you loved about 2011.

Although not eligible for a spot in our 2011 countdown, as it was posted in 2010, the Panorama Project page was hands-down the most popular page on the site this year. Likely the New York Times article had a lot to do with that. Although we post a new station every Tuesday, the Panorama Project page is still the best way to check out all the stations and lines that have been featured thus far.

Number 12 on our list is The Rebirth of a Train Station: Canaan. While so many towns are content to ignore their railroading history, Canaan is the complete opposite. They are fiercely proud of that history, and when their gorgeous station was the victim of arson several years ago, they vowed to rebuild. In the ensuing years, the old depot has made a huge transformation – no longer is it a fire-ravaged hulk – it is slowly returning to its former grandeur.

Later in the year, we revisited Canaan during their annual Railway Days.

Old postcards have always been a popular subject matter on the site, and over the years there have been six parts (and more to come!) in our Sending Postcards from the Harlem Line series. Part two was the eleventh most popular post on the blog in 2011. You can check out all the other postcard posts with the following links: Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

Tenth most popular in 2011 was one of our Tuesday Tour stops on the New Haven Line, Pelham. Pelham is one of the old and attractive New Haven Line stations on the opposite side of the border, in New York. I found myself here on the very day that the article featuring the site was published in the New York Times. And the fact that this post was linked to by a few other railroad websites certainly helped with its popularity.

A bit more popular than the postcards are our collections of old photos from the Harlem Line. Like the postcards, there have been many different old photo posts, and for a brief stint I posted many of these photos on Mondays. Part 3 of Even More Monday Morning Old Photos was the ninth most popular post on the blog in 2011. It contained several photos of the line that used to be, when it passed by Millerton and extended all the way up to Chatham.

Everyone must admit that the concept of quiet cars is a great one – however, in practice, it may be a little bit more difficult. You know that although you may encounter some really nice people on the trains, there are also a whole bunch of assholes. They yap on their phones, take up rows of seats with their bags (one morning I saw a woman holding hostage several seats with her large carton of juice). There are many times that I am skeptical that good ideas can work with stupid people.

Before the quiet car program started, Metro North said that conductors would have “Shh Cards” to pass out to loud people to tell them to shut their traps in a nice, passive way. I thought the idea was amusing, and managed to get my hands on some of the cards before the program debuted. And they were a little bit too nice – I was unable to resist making modifications to them… and even printing out a few. The fake shh cards posted under the title of Quiet cars and Shh cards was the eighth most popular on the site in 2011, and the cliffhanger I’ll leave you with until later on this week.

Want to see the remainder of the top 12? Check back later this week to see them, and to find out which post will be crowned number one most popular of 2011.

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Some “well-educated” fashion

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!

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New Operation Lifesaver Poster

You too can win a Darwin award! Presenting the new Operation Lifesaver poster!

The original poster can be found here.

Seriously though, I’ve read a many stories this week alone about people getting killed by trains, many of which were walking on the tracks while listening to music – they never even heard the train coming. Unless your goal is to remove yourself from the gene pool, don’t be stupid.

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Passengers: I love to see your feet, & You Parked Like a Jackass

Dear all passengers: I love seeing your feet. I couldn’t even work on my Japanese adventure photos, I had to stop and take pictures of your feet, so everyone can see how wonderful they are! The woman on my train last night really took the cake. Feet way up in the air on the back of the train seat all the way up to Mount Kisco. Not long after I snapped the photo, she took her feet down and put her boots back on in order to leave the train. When she stood up, she just looked like the picture in my mind of a stereotypical Westchester woman. She appears all prissy… she’s the kind of woman that would easily spend two hundred and fifty dollars on boots without a second thought. Except when on the train, those boots just won’t do. They need to come off!

The following lady didn’t really show me her feet. But she fuckin’ loves Metro-North, so she wore her happy socks, and put them up on the seat so everyone can see:

The following picture is old, and I’ve posted it before. But when I think about showing your bare feet on the train, this is what I think in my mind:

In other news, quite a while ago I found this blog called You Parked Like a Jackass. There is a high likelihood that at some point in your life you’ve seen someone park like a jackass. Horribly crooked, taking up two spots, or three, or (the horror!) four! People submit photos of horribly parked cars in lots, and you can even print out “Jackass cards” to leave on the windshield of those cars.

Many mornings in Goldens Bridge I see a van that really parks like a jackass. Well, I can’t really say that they park. Whoever is driving goes to the station, assumedly to wait for someone getting off the train. Instead of waiting in line at the entrance like most cars, the driver attempts to park. Horribly. If you are not handicapped, you are a real asshole to park in a handicapped spot. But a true asshole takes up multiple handicapped spots. What if there really was a handicapped person that needed the spot? Most days there are several other spots available when this person is around. But still, I just have to wonder why someone feels it necessary to diagonally park over two handicapped spots and a place you aren’t supposed to park. Mind you this is not an isolated incident. Note the snow in the picture on the left. This happens all the time.

Just add that to the list of people that probably abuse handicapped spots at the station. Kinda like the guy that is late for the train, parks in the closest handicapped spot, and runs like hell to catch that train that is pulling into the station.

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I got slapped today…

I got slapped today at the train station. I don’t know what other way to put it. Let me explain: I have an addiction to Coca-cola. I needed my Coke fix this morning, and so I headed over to Waxman’s News in White Plains after getting off the train. Gary frequently provides me my morning Coke fix. Anyways, a few steps ahead of me was a woman with a cane, and a boot on her injured foot. Gary was being all nice, going to the cooler and grabbing the water that she claimed she couldn’t reach. I figured I’d be nice and wait until she was done and paid, and then I’d go and grab my coke. Except for the fact that she was taking absolutely forever. This woman was indecisive. “Well, how much are those juices over there?” and “What about those ones there?” If you are going to inquire about the price of every item in the store, it would be great if you didn’t block the entrance to the store for everyone else. Just saying.

Ultimately, I got fed up with waiting. I am a fairly small person, and I knew that without a difficulty I could walk right behind the woman. My backpack is really the big thing that would add to my bulk, so I took it off. I prepared to step behind the woman, and all of a sudden, SLAP. She slapped my leg (rather hard too!) and shouted at me, “Watch my foot!” I responded, “Lady, I see your foot,” and I could tell that my voice was speaking in a (much deserved) rude tone. There were a lot of other things I could have said, but I was just like, “f- that” and I got my Coke and got out of there.

Unfortunately the incident made me forget the other thing I wanted to do this morning. I saw Mutt this morning. Mutt is the nickname of (another) one of the crazy-type people that hang out at the station. Yes, I’ve given them all nicknames. Mutt is short for Mutton Chops, though the guy really just has long sideburns, and not true mutton chops. Nonetheless, that was the first name that came to mind in my head, and it stuck. Mutt isn’t too incredibly crazy. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him speak. But he always has this expression on his face, a look of being perpetually lost. He hangs out in the waiting room and just sits. And every time he’s at the station, he has to go and make his “rounds.” You see, Mutt has an OCD habit. He needs to stick his finger in the little door of all the pay-phones to see if there is any change inside. He also checks each of the automated ticket machines. What I wanted to do for amuseument’s sake was to take a dollar bill, and put it in the pay-phone downstairs. It would probably confuse the hell out of him. Though now that I’ve posted that, the amount of people sticking their fingers in pay-phones looking for dollars in White Plains will certainly be on the rise.

And just a note: I’ve been rather slow in processing my photos from last Thursday’s gallery opening at the Transit Museum Annex, but I’ll be posting them later in the day, I swear!

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“Who cares about the facts, as long as I report it first” & Thursday’s Subway Fatality

There is this sentiment in the news today, with the internet and all “competing” with the “real” news. That sentiment is “who cares about the facts, as long as I report it first”. And this sentiment sickens me. Seriously.

I have been having issues with my laptop charger, so I haven’t been on my computer quite as much this week. So I totally missed the other day’s story about the person getting killed by the 6 train at 77th Street. Maybe it was good I missed it. Maybe because the story was complete and utter bullshit. Check out the story on The New York Times‘ website, and read the comments. You will see something drastically different than what the story reports. Why? Because the story was changed as the “real” information came in.

Apparently the original story reported that a young girl was struck by the train. Not only that, witnesses report that the girl was possibly pushed off the platform, as students were horsing around. That is pretty fucked up. A person getting pushed? That is murder on the subway! But hey, guess what, that story was completely false. It is now reported that the person that was struck was not a child, but a forty-eight-year-old woman named Rose M. Mankos. And not only was she NOT pushed, the story now reports that she dropped her bag on the tracks, and JUMPED DOWN TO RETRIEVE IT. That on the other hand is NOT murder. That is complete and utter stupidity. I am so sorry, but that woman got what she deserved. You may call me heartless, but if you jump down on the tracks, you are an idiot.

People, never, never, NEVER go down on those damn tracks. Just don’t do it. Losing something on the tracks does happen. New York City Transit estimates that it happens perhaps twelve to fifteen times per day. If you do lose an item, you need to report it to a police officer or employee. There is an Emergency Response and Track Lubrication Division, and they respond to these events. Once the call is made, a track specialist responds and will retrieve the item. It may not happen instantaneously, and you may have to return later to pick up the item, but at least you will be safe. Life is worth more than whatever stupid possessions you may have dropped. You can buy a new iPod. But your poor family members (whom I am truly sorry for… having to identify that mangled mess of your daughter / sister in the morgue) can’t buy another you.

Note: This post has been edited, because I am a moron and wrote that this happened Friday, when in reality it occurred on Thursday. Talk about criticizing the “media,” hah! It has also been updated to reflect the response I got from NYCTSubwayScoop on Twitter regarding the procedure for retrieving a lost item.

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It’s Wednesday… Let the Crazy People Run FREE!

Did someone let the nutter bus loose today? Was the local asylum giving out day passes? We had some delightful numbskulls today getting in fights on speakerphone in the waiting room, and an amusing man wearing a New York Times badge that was having difficulty hearing on his phone. Of course when you have difficulty hearing, the only solution is to stick your finger in your ear, find the nearest corner, and go stand facing the corner while resting your head against the wall for support. Can you hear me now?

I like to read and mumble. And then get on my speaker phone and get into arguments, which I am sure everyone loves to hear!

I can’t stand some people’s UGGly boots, but there are some that just make no sense to me at all. These boots are so hairy it looks like an old, brown poodle died on each of your feet.

Every time Santa Claus Man treks up the stairs at Goldens Bridge, he thinks in his mind, ‘I can reach the unreachable star!’ because just going up a flight of stairs when you are that drunk might as well be climbing Mount Everest.

Ah, good old Sleeper Kid. I have to give him credit, at least he isn’t trying to eat and sleep at the same time any more.

I have no pictures for this one, so instead, I will leave you with a story:
This week marks the return of this rather large and obnoxious woman. She rode the shuttle bus last year, and then all of a sudden disappeared. Honestly, I had hoped she got fired. I guess she didn’t, because now she is back. Maybe she just rides the bus in the winter for some odd reason. I don’t really know. Either way, she is dead set about being the first person to get on the bus. She can and will push aside any other person in her way to be the first person on the bus. As witnessed this evening, if she is sitting in a seat and there is another open seat right next to her, her fat ass is not moving an inch. Our building complex now has two shuttle buses, but for the longest time we had only one. Before we got the second bus, extra people would have to stand in the aisles if there were not enough seats. Now that we have two buses, people that don’t fit in the seats on the first bus are required to wait five minutes or so for the other bus to come around. Tonight there was an extra seat on our bus, but because fat ass didn’t want to move her butt, that person had to stand in the bitter cold until the other bus came around. And then she had the audacity to laugh about how cold it was outside, and that she couldn’t have waited another minute out there. When someone said to her that there was one more seat, she said, “Who gon’ fit dere?” If someone can’t fit there next to your fat butt, maybe that is your cue to go on a diet? For the record, as I am sure I will get a flame from someone about that, I do not have a problem with fat people, but I do have a problem with assholes.

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Not the best way to start the morning…

One woman at White Plains today had a terrible start to her morning. She was pooped on by a pigeon. Guess they didn’t like her too much. Cue the obligatory pigeon photo…

House painter lady was back again at the train station. “Housepainter! Housepainter! Ma’am do you need a HOUSEPAINTER?!” She just doesn’t quit! Despite the fact that I don’t think I actually saw a single person take one of her cards. At least the politicians hand out their papers, people take them, and promptly throw them in the trash once they get into the station. But hey, at least it feels like they did something!

I saw more delightful youngsters from *unnamed school* at White Plains again… what a wonderful lot of young men. The soccer team felt it would be necessary to brag to everyone on the platform about how they bullied this other young man during lunch, and it turned into the “best lunch ever.” They also laughed about how they would probably end up driving that young man to suicide. And to think that I laughed at the guy who was singing quite loudly the day previous on the platform. I would have much preferred him. Come back singing guy!

I decided to finally get a twitter account for the blog. I just started it out, we’ll see how this goes. If you want you can go and follow me :D

Oh, and before I forget, today is train conductor Guy’s birthday! If you see him, wish him a happy birthday!

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A Symphony of Sniffles, Bickering Twins, and More Politicians

You know what I seemed to forget this whole summer? Kids that ride the train to school. It was so wonderfully quiet without them… but now they’re back! Around White Plains I tend to see quite a few students from *unnamed school*… and when they aren’t discussing how they use cell phones, text messages, and all the other current technologies to cheat on their exams, they focus on getting the rest of the train passengers sick with what is probably swine flu. If I was a little bit nicer, perhaps I would have brought a box of tissues with me and given it to the whole lot of them. The other day the train really was filled with a symphony of sniffles. They all piped in at one point or another, but one kid, well, he was the metronome. He kept the beat of the slow-paced song with his every-five-second sniffles. Several people boarded the train and sat rather close to these kids, but within a few moments of hearing their song, they quickly got up and left. But hey, if you feel like sitting by yourself on the train, you can also use this tactic. Just start a terrible round of fake hacking coughs when people are boarding the train… Eighty, if not more, percent of the time, everyone will keep their distance from you, the sickie.

The other day I had to double check that I didn’t have any vision problems when I saw two identical twins on the platform. The amusing thing is that they must have gotten into a fight or something, because they were each pretending like the other wasn’t there. They were standing about twenty feet from each other, and I stood right in the middle, looking from one side of the platform to another. Really, I thought I was crazy, or my eyes were playing tricks. Too bad I missed the fight, must have happened shortly before I arrived at the station. That might have been interesting. I wonder though, who the hell do you root for when two identical twins get in a fistfight?

In other news, politicians are again hanging out at the train station, oh joy! Politicians are always my favorite. Last week there was a man passing out papers about Rob Astorino. I always love to see what is going on, so I went to grab one. But the man didn’t hand one to me right away, instead he squinted his eyes and stared at me. And then he mumbled, “are you even OLD ENOUGH to vote?!” That is sort of like when I go to restaurants and the waitress asks if I want a kids’ menu. Or at work when someone asks me if I am visiting my mommy or daddy… dammit, don’t you just hate when that happens?!

Back to politicians though, is there any amusing term that one uses for a person that is constantly following around a politician? Groupie? Or perhaps fanboy? Mr. Astorino apparently needs to find some better fanboys to pass out papers, ones that don’t mumble and you can actually understand. Like Dan Schorr’s friend with the large moustache. He is very loud and you certainly can understand him, other than the fact that you wonder where the sound is coming from because his facial hair is so large you don’t see his lips move.

This week, Mr. Astorino himself was in White Plains. Sort of just standing there smiling. As everyone rushed by. But hey, I noticed something… the little brochure that was being handed out, it looked a lot like another politician I know! I can’t believe the resemblance! Even the design of the brochure is the same… can you believe it?


Alright, alright. Perhaps that was a bit much. But I mean, it isn’t like anyone ever photoshops pictures of politicians!

Actually, this whole thing was amusing, because I had the brochure sitting on my desk here at work, and my supervisor came in and said, “Oh my god, that is Robbie Astorino! I was in third grade with him!” If only she knew about Robbie and his american flag bikini. I think Sarah Palin has one just like it too! Hmm…

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The morning of silence… and no crazies to be seen.

This morning I arrived into White Plains train station and was surprised to note the downstairs benches were completely empty. Many times I find myself at this spot looking for an open spot, only to find the seats completely full. Or other times there are a few empty seats… but empty for a reason. People generally like to keep a distance from the station crazies… the winter coat man has been around frequently this week (despite some of the days being quite warm), deeply engrossed in conversation with himself. But not even he was around today. Complete emptyness. I wondered if today had been a holiday I was unaware of, and nobody had work…

Though I soon learned the lack of people was due to train delays… the delay announcer was stuck on permanent loop, reading the name of every train coming northbound from Grand Central. According to the radio on the bus, a train got stuck at Scarsdale station… and according to my friend who was apparently on that train, the first two cars actually had smoke in them. She showed up to work rather late and a bit dishevelled, and talked a bit about angry passengers demanding refunds. Didn’t hear much else other than that though… but hey, I’m not complaining. At least *I* had some peace and quiet :D

In other news, the campaign of passenger passive aggressiveness continues, and today we were rewarded with angry mumbling of “this is outrageous!” in addition to the normal angry glares. This situation will likely resolve itself in one of several ways… 1.) The lady drives her car to work, 2.) The lady takes the number six to work, 3.) The lady complains to the bus company about the passengers being assholes to her. Hmm, I have a feeling it will be number three. And of course the bus company would be too nice to reply to her and say, well stop being an asshole to the bus driver!

Before I go, one more additional observation… fried chicken may not be the best meal to eat on the train. Yes, I do get rather annoyed when people leave their food trash on the trains, you COULD just take it with you when you get off and throw it in the trash… but come on, ziploc bags full of your picked clean fried chicken bones? That is just nasty.

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