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Stupid People Tricks – Deja Vu

April 3, 2014

SAN ANTONIO — A man in his 30’s lost a few fingers Tuesday (4/1/2014)  afternoon in an attempt to place a penny under a moving train north of downtown.

That was the lead paragraph from an article in yesterday’s San Antonio Express-News. It’s really not noteworthy when someone manages to get crosswise with a train. People do stupid stuff every day, right?

The only reason I note this particular incident is because it reminded me when I witnessed something just like this one morning nearly 2 years ago.

It was Aug. 14, 2012. I was in Stafford,near MP 20 (UP Glidden sub), to shoot two eastbounds that were running ahead of Amtrak #2.

The first train was UP 7717 on the MKBHO:

Aug-14-2012-006As you can see, the light was brutal at MP 20.5 for this first train. I decided to move east about a half-mile believing that the light might be a little better.

The next train was the hottest eastbound around here, the ZLCAT (Expedited LA to Atlanta) with SD70ACe 8517 on the point. As it came into view and I started composing my shot, I was startled to see a guy run out from the brush and lean in toward the north rail.  It looked like the guy wanted to get whacked by the train. Holy Crap!

I quickly re-composed to capture what I thought was going to be a brutal, brutal event. Suddenly the guy reaches down to the rail to place a coin on the rail. Whew! I can breathe again!


Image time: 10:35:15 AM

As the guy started to pull away, he suddenly stopped and leaned over the track again!  What are you doing????

He grabbed the coin off the railhead, put it in his mouth, and returned it to the railhead.


Image time: 10:35:17

After what seemed like an eternity, he scurried away with the moving train maybe 100 feet away. Apparently it was just another day at the office for the crew – they didn’t whistle once.


Image time: 10:35:21

I’d never tried shooting an eastbound here from the north side of the track. I just didn’t think there was a decent shot to be had here. Now I know there isn’t a shot here!


Image time: 10:35:26

Once the DPU cleared up, Mr. Mensa begins the search for his souvenir. Note his vehicle next to the last pole on the right. (Click to enlarge image)


The rest of the morning was less exciting. I headed east to West Junction (MP 12.4) to be able to catch #2 in better light than Stafford.










I thought that would be it. But I heard that KCS 4614 wasn’t too far behind #2, so I moved west to Heacker to capture it as it diverged onto main 1 for its trip on UP’s Terminal sub through Houston.


I don’t recall if I shut it down after the KCS empty grain train because there wasn’t any more traffic or because it was too hot. Either way, that was it.

I never thought I’d post the images from this summer 2012 morning. But upon reading about the San Antonio incident, as Yogi Berra once said: “It was like Deja Vu all over again”.

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