Railroad Crossing

Issue 6 and Volume 109.

A train hit a car on a lonely stretch of road in the hill country on a very dark, stormy night.

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Public and stage agencies demanded a thorough investigation to identify the root cause of the accident. The principal witness for the railroad company was their crossing guard, a man named Clem. His testimony on the witness stand went something like this:

Question: What is your employment obligation with the railroad company?

Clem: There’s no gate there, no alarms, just me to keep people from crossing the tracks when there’s a train a-comin’.

Question: And when is this done?

Clem: Twice a day. Once for the eastbound express in the mornin’ and once at night for the westbound express.

Question: How does the schedule run for the westbound train?

Clem: Oh, it’s always right on time – two-o-two in the middle of the night.

Question: And was train number 72 on time on the night in question, the 14th of October last?

Clem: Yep, like always.

Question: And how did you act on that October 14th night?

Clem: Oh, I was right out there with my lantern in plenty of time to warn away any vehicles.

Question: And what specifically did you do?

Clem: I was right out there in the middle of the road, in front of the tracks, wavin’ my lantern back and forth.

Question: Yes, and what happened then?

Clem: This car, it just kept comin’ and I jumped out the way jest in time – before the train smashed into it.

Question: Well, that concludes the case.

Some time later, the investigating body decided to completely exonerate the railroad company.

One of Clem’s buddies noted how enormously relieved he was at the finding, and recalled how very agitated Clem was at the hearing, almost perspiring under the routine, simple questioning.

Clem said, “I was just a-prayin’ they wouldn’t be askin’ me if the lamp was lit.” p

[Submitted by Power Engineering reader Ralph Bernstein.]