Week of November 3 – 9, 2011

Week of November 3 – 9, 2011

Riders this week: 10,009

Rider miles this week: 74,856


Straphangers were treated to new Hampton resident Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) of the New York Yankees, jogging from the first car of the train through all the cars to the last car of the train, then back to the front and back and forth, for the trip he took between Westhampton Beach and Montauk last Friday. As it happened, in Westhampton Beach he got on the last car but in Montauk got off in the front car, which is where he was by chance when the train arrived at his destination. He was not in uniform but was wearing one of his World Series Rings.


Nearly 200 local grammar school children, dressed in costume, participated in a free after-school, guide-led, hour-long lantern walk through the darkened tunnels (the lights were dimmed) of the subway system on Monday October 31. As happens every year, not all the children came out when it was over, and so the guides go back down and pick up the stragglers, finding them through the sounds of their whimpering. Last year there were 12 stragglers, this year nine. The guides have gotten better at rounding them up.


As the system does every year, it celebrated the birthday of Ivan Kratz, the man who founded and built the Hampton Subway system in 1932. It takes place as a big staff dinner in the cafeteria and surrounding offices on the second floor of the company headquarters building in Hampton Bays. It’s a major event in full Halloween costume because Kratz was born on October 31 (in 1889) and what with the disco lighting, the loud music, the liquor, dancing and all the rest, the surrounding offices, including that of our General Manager Bill Baines, were often locked for a while as various couples went in and out to take some rest from their energetic labors.

The evening was more memorable than other birthdays because this year, due to the financial cutbacks, the event was not catered and so the attendees were asked to bring all the food covered-dish style. By an extraordinary coincidence, as it turned out, everyone brought something featuring pumpkin, so there was pumpkin soup, pumpkin salad, pumpkin sodas, pumpkin stew, spaghetti and pumpkin, pumpkin stewed vegetables, pumpkin pie and pumpkin ice cream. And nothing else. The entire Subway staff called in sick the following morning, but that day, Tuesday, the subway trains did run on time anyway, manned by our company interns—who were not invited to the party—together with various regular commuters who volunteered to help.


Last Wednesday morning was one of the worst days on the subway system. At 10:23 a.m., the entire system shut down for three hours after a wayward porcupine, stepping on the third rail as train number 7 passed by heading from Bridgehampton to Water Mill, exploded in a shower of quills. Tires were punctured and went flat on several of the cars, windows were shattered and when the train limped into the Water Mill Station, it was found that half the sliding doors were quilled shut. Fortunately the riders were able to exit by going to adjacent cars.

The system was shut down for 45 minutes so the crippled train could be towed off the main line and onto a siding, and then another two hours and 12 minutes to evict a distraught second porcupine who was at the site of the explosion and could not stop crying. After her removal (by net), the workmen moved in and swept up all the stray fur and quills.


Hampton Subway congratulates Ben Harris and John Malone on their first wedding anniversary. They met two years ago while both worked in the tunnels as flagmen, showing green flags so the subway motormen could move their trains ahead and red flags when it was necessary for the motormen to bring their trains to a stop. Both men had been assigned to the same spur, Bridgehampton to Sag Harbor, so this was one of those meeting-by-chance things. A year ago November 2, both men called in sick and drove to Massachusetts where a same sex marriage was performed—same sex marriage was legal there before it was legal in New York—and then they drove back down to get out onto their next shift. Congratulations to them.


Halloween is always a wonderful time for me and my wife. Crowds of children, in costume, come to our oceanfront estate, walk up our driveway to the front door—we leave the electric gates open for two hours—and are treated by some of our servants, who give them free gum balls or candy corn which they take away in little bags. I’m told lots of the kids are really cute.

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