I have a lot of respect for MTA employees. They put up with an awful lot, be it surly passengers, cleaning filthy subway stations, bus drivers fighting New York traffic. They do it all, and for not as much money as you'd think.
The Daily News today has a riveting article about motormen (subway train drivers) haunted by the memories of people they've watched commit suicide by jumping in front of their trains as they've pulled into stations. Each year an average of 90 people either jump, fall or on rare occasions are pushed in front of a moving train.
[Motorman Jermaine] Dennis, 39, was driving a northbound A train that day. He approached the Aqueduct station at about 6:30 a.m. The sun was shining. Another summer day was unfolding.
The platform wasn’t crowded. One of the few commuters was a woman in her late 50s. She wore a long, flowing dress. Dennis didn’t know it at the time, but she had taken off her shoes and placed her pocketbook on the platform.
“I was going about 30 [mph],” Dennis said. “As soon as I came into the station, she just tipped over. She was moving and then she fell onto the tracks.”
The woman died a few hours later. In a haze, Dennis secured the train by manually setting brakes on each car. He was taken to an MTA clinic where he was tested for drugs and booze and sent home.
“That night, I couldn’t sleep,” Dennis said. “I took it hard. I kept blaming myself, asking myself what could I have done to prevent it.
“I felt for this lady. This was someone’s mother or grandmother, and now they are alone. It took a toll on me.”
That first night, Dennis paced the house as a lightning storm rolled over the Bronx. With each flash of light, the ghostly image of the woman appeared.
“She was in a white gown,” he said. “Emotionless. She just stared at me.”
It's a really powerful article, although it left me wanting to know more. I encourage you to read it all.