The stars at night are big and bright...

The stars at night are big and bright...
The stars at night are big and bright...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The 6 Million Dollar Dumbass

I once hopped a train on the Seattle waterfront that was heading toward my ship. I remember laughing at all the guys I had been walking with and yelling "See ya, Suckers!". 

The train was running about 10mph and it beat the hell out of walking the 2 miles down Alaskan Way back to the ship. There was a huge railyard a few blocks from Pier 36 and I was sure that was where we were headed.

Did I mention I wasn't a Quartermaster? 

The train started to pick up speed and veer away from Alaskan Way. Then I saw the tunnel approaching and it was pretty tight between the train and the hillside. I decided to swing between the cars and hang on, it couldn't be very long. I mean heck, the railyard is right down the street!

We entered the tunnel and started to pick up speed. I was enveloped in pitch darkness, noise and diesel smoke. I started to get disoriented. I thought about sticking my head out to see if I could see the literal light at the end of the tunnel. Then I realized that and/or falling might be a very bad thing right now and decided to hold on to the ladder for dear life instead. 

It seemed like we were going to be underground forever and it was hard to breathe. Then, just as suddenly as it went dark and stagnant, it became bright daylight and sweet fresh air once again.

I gathered myself and quickly took my bearings. I was on the opposite side of the Kingdome from where I needed to be and moving farther away... fast! We were also continuing to pick up speed. I knew it was rapidly reaching the point of no return.

Unless I wanted the uncharted no-frills tour of the Cascade Mountains, now was the time to disembark. I saw a wide 4 lane crossing approaching and went for it. I hung off the side ladder as far and low as I could, did a practice swing with my leg and jumped.

I WAS Steve Austin! 

When my right foot kissed the ground, it was like I was long jump/pole vaulting. I took a good 20 foot leap before my left foot came down and I bounced up again, but I was losing E fast. I was also losing my balance and starting to nose over with nothing but gravel followed by pavement to catch me. 

Plus let's not forget the speeding freight train right beside me and a huge metal crossing guard approaching alongside. No room for error. I pulled back hard and did my best Olympic record ribbon breaking finish.

I still wonder what that lady sitting in her car at the rail crossing was thinking when I came bouncing out of nowhere like a cartoon superhero in front of her and then casually curved off and jogged down the sidewalk towards home. 

I never hopped another train after that either.

Why is this story relevant? Because of this. I never knew how roomy a 727 nose gear compartment was. But I do know it isn't pressurized.


an Donalbane said...

If he had only been a fan of old music, he would've known, from Gordon Lightfoot's Early Mornin' Rain that:

" can't jump a jet plane,
like you can a freight train.
So I'd best be on my way,
in the early mornin' rain."

Video (PP&M version):

Kathleen... said...

My H.S. boyfriend had me drop him & his brother at the F.W. train yards several times to go ho hopping across the U.S. And his parents OK'd it.....those boys reveled in it.