Monday, February 26, 2007

This Train's Going Express to Traumaville

Sometimes, I like to think I have psychic dreams. Not all the time, and certainly I don't take every dream I have as literal predictions of the truth. (This weekend's dream featured some futuristic spaceship-plane hybrid that was cool and I hope comes into reality someday.) I like when my dreams give me a heads-up on something I may need to be prepared for in the future. When I was in college, I had a dream that the kids I babysit for and I got split up while riding the train. My subconscious may have been helping me deal with feelings of powerlessness-- I had to run ahead to the next stop to catch the kids, but I couldn't run fast enough-- but after that dream I was always very careful loading and unloading the wee ones into the train. The dream served me well too-- only a week or so later an over-eager T driver tried to close the doors while Boy was still disembarking the train. Luckily, I managed to thrust my arms into the closing doors and grab him off the stairs.

More recently, I was on the T in Government Center on a busy weekend, and I watched a mother load her daughter into the train. The mother turned around to see if the rest of her family was behind her, and the doors started to close. The little girl who was loaded onto the train started to scream, and somebody standing in the doorway held the doors so the mother could get on the train. It was a very near miss. The little girl sobbed while her mother tried to comfort her. I gave the girl a smile, but she looked away and continued to sob. When she got off the train a couple of stops later, she clung to her mother for dear life.

This weekend, I was reading Universal Hub and came across this post, which is the story of a child who did actually get separated from their family on the T.

Being in a state of shock that a door was closing on me, and not wanting my 8-month-old to be hurt by the closing door, I backed up. The door then closed with my 7-year-old on the train. I panicked. I banged on the door and screamed that my daughter was on the train -- but to no avail. The train proceeded on.

Yikes. That poor kid. Her poor mother. This problem seems mainly centered on the Green Line. The other lines have more doors and no stairs to navigate into the train, so it's easy to heard kids inside. Also, the doors seem to remain open for longer on the other lines. Some T drivers on the Green Line basically flip the doors open for only a second, then close them up regardless of the fact that the very young or very old may take longer to get on or off the train, especially the older cars with steep stairs. I'm surprised this hasn't been more widely reported as a problem.

I don't know how many parents read this blog (sorry for the swearing, folks) but if you've got young kids, you need to discuss what to do if you get separated on the T. Make sure they know your home and cell numbers. Since cell phones don't work underground on the T, make sure kids know who to approach for help. If they're on the Green Line, make sure they know to talk to the driver of the car, or how to recognize a T official on a platform. (Good luck finding one, I know, but you don't want your kids admitting to any sketchball on the platform that they're without adult supervision.) Have your kid get off the train at the next stop and wait for you. As someone said to my comment on Universal Hub, make sure your kids know what stop you're using. It sounds extreme, but hopefully your kid will know how to handle a situation that never happens.

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