Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Creative Anachronism

This is the year 2005. Steam trains are a thing of the past, relegated to museums and a few tourist routes in isolated areas. Diesel electric power has been the way to go for over fifty years now. The western U.S. is no longer an area of confrontation between cowboys and Indians. Train crews no longer need to worry about being attacked by bow-wielding aggressors.

Or do they?

MONTCLAIR, Calif. (AP) -- In a confrontation reminiscent of the Wild West, police shot and wounded a man who allegedly took over a freight train with a bow and arrow.

Juventino Vallejo-Camerena boarded the Union Pacific train Sunday night as it was stopped for a signal and threatened the engineer and conductor, the only people on board, police Capt. Keith Jones said.

Juventino...didn't he used to wrestle for WCW? That was a pretty bold move on his part. Then again, maybe not. Freight train crews always consist of two people. A few years ago, there was talk of reducing crews to one man since so much of the operation is automated these days, but the unions shot that proposal down. For safety's sake, a two-man crew is ideal. What if one of them has a heart attack, stroke, or seizure?

And even with a crew of two, there is a risk. They are small in number, and more than likely unarmed. One weapon, even something as rudimentary as a bow and arrow, could be enough to bring a train crew to its knees. What possible defense could the railroaders have against the sharp tip of an arrow?

The crew members escaped and disabled the train by turning off fuel switches, then used a cell phone to call police, Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said.

"The employees did an outstanding job," Davis said. "Their instincts took over and they did the proper thing by disabling the train."

A cell phone! The 21st century all-purpose line of defense! Sure, turning off the train helped. But the cell phone got the thug shot by the cops.

What have we learned today, class?

Never go up against cell-phone wielding railroaders when all you've got is a bow and arrow.

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