Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 15, 2008 11:37AM

I attempted to hijack a subway car

Rate: 16 Flag

Sweet Jesus, I wish the pain would stop. My pelvis is seconds away from rupturing. My insides wait in urgent pregnancy to ooze from my core, ready to coat the seats and floor beneath me. Why won’t this fucking train move? It’s time to go.

We’re underneath Boston Common at the T’s Park Street station. It’s half-past midnight and we’re sitting on the night’s last Green Line train back to our apartment.  Our train cannot leave until the advertised time, it being the night’s last train and all. So we wait.

“I’m gonna piss myself. Go tell this guy to get a move on,” I tell Benson.

Minutes earlier, my roommate and I had finished participating in a timeworn Boston ritual.  As newly-minted 21-year-olds, we exercised our imperative to visit bars previously inaccessible with our fake IDs. This is a freedom not to be wasted and must be pursued with the curiosity and tenacity of a child needing to know what grown-ups do in those magic hours after bedtime.  Fun times, we’re blitzed, but I’m being punished for skipping potty time.

“Tell him yourself. I don’t have to go.”

It’s not like Benson would do this favor for me anyway.  But he’s right. Why don’t I tell him myself? Surely this unionized government employee will listen to the rationale of an obnoxious and sozzled NU kid.

Not the actual trainThe Green Line trains are not typical subway cars; they are light rail trolleys that source power from the overhead catenary wires.  This line operates underground and on city surface roads, and, like other trolleys, the driver sits in front exposed to the riffraff and midnight drunks.

I stand, and from the center of the car I shuffle to the shower curtain that shields the pilot from passengers. I pull the curtain back primed to pitch my request.  I’m met with an empty chair.

The dash is a wonderful board of buttons, important-looking toggle switches, and gauges. Underneath, the shine of a metal, foot-shaped pedal gives an inviting wink. I have never seen the cockpit of a Green Line car up close before, and I’ve never been this unsupervised in a Green Line cockpit before.

I don’t know why, but I’m now having visions.  I see in my head images of this train pulling up to my street with me steadfast and even-keeled in the driver’s seat.  Never mind that I’m ripped and I’ve never operated a subway car before. And never mind that I can’t perform the proper track switching ahead and we could end up in Brookline. All Irrelevant; I’m driving this sucker home.

Presently, this is a strong and sensible idea. I don’t think my sober mind has ever had such an unwise idea, and to this day I wonder if my scheme portends an impending psychosis. Right now, though, this idea is not only rational and sans risk, it’s an obligation. I need to send the T a message.

Driving this rig can’t be that hard? It’s on tracks, so it’s not like I have to steer. No intersections to cross. Just push the pedal and go. Either I’ll move the train ever-so-slightly and the operator will take my very reasonable point that leaving drunk people in need of urinary relief to wait for a train has consequences – and therefore he should get his ass in gear - or I’ll drive the train to my stop and stroll into my building. They’ll never figure out it was me.

Standing at the threshold, I look down at dashboard with its friendly knobs and toggles. I place both hands on the dash mashing buttons and switches, I slip my foot on the shinny steel pedal…


The train’s lights extinguish. The engine grumbles and stops. A soft, inoffensive buzzing alarm permeates from above.  I just turned off the goddamn T! I just turned off the goddamn T! A beat passes and I look back over my shoulder into Benson’s face; his eyes are wide and his mouth agape. The faces of other passengers betray everything from bewilderment, curiosity, bemusement and agitation.  Pissed-off people trying to get home on the last train will have no problem ratting me out; I know right then it is not in my best interest to play coy or explain this to anyone with any official title or authority.

Deep breath. With composure, I find the exit and I step down onto the station’s brown brick floor.  I perform my faux sober-est, inconspicuously relaxed walk towards the turnstiled exit one hundred feet away.  Halfway there, two men in blue subway authority uniforms bolt past me focused on the buzzing green-striped car to my rear. My pace slightly quickens and as soon as I’m past the turnstile, I sprint, then jet up the stairs.

Spilling onto empty and sparsely lit Tremont Street, I urgently need to disappear. I know I’m on the first vehicle that stops: taxi, gypsy cab, bike, someone who’ll pick up a hitchhiker, bus, ped-o-van – I don’t care.  My salvation instantly appears in the form of a city bus; I wave, it stops, I slip my fare into the collection trap and I pour myself into a seat.

I don’t care where I’m going, but this turns out to be the jackpot bus. This bus’s destination terminates a block from my apartment. At 1:00 am, no one is waiting at bus stops and there’s no traffic. And with a bus driver running the last route of his late-night shift, we’re running express. We hit all the green lights and within five minutes I’m off the bus and standing in sight of my building.

I find sweet relief, although today I can’t remember how.  Perhaps I wait until I arrived in my own bathroom, perhaps not. But I do remember waiting 40 minutes before my roommate walked into the apartment, desperate for a toilet.

Photo by jwardell used under Creative Commons. 

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Awesome story. Only in Boston and it captures the Boston experience. Thanks, Corey.

rated for green line-y-ness
Somehow, when reading the headline, I expect a story that had you holding a gun to an engineers head and asking to be taken to Cuba or Libya.

Glad to see it turned out to be an even dumber story.

I did enjoy it though...and empathised with you with no trouble.

Hate to tell you some of the things I've done when the urge to take a piss has become unbearable.

(Okay, since you insisted, I'll tell one!)

I'm taking one of those EST type consciousness expansion seminars where you are not allowed to leave the room no matter what until an official recess.

For whatever reason, I had drunk several cups of tea (a beverage I never drink!) before going into the seminar...and about an hour and a half into the thing, my bladder is going ape shit.

You really weren't even allowed to raise your hand (except to "share" during an appropriate moment in the seminar), but after trying hold on for a long while, I decided to brave it.

"When are we gonna break...I need a toilet break soon," I asked.

The person giving the "instruction" responded, "Thank you for sharing" and just went droning on about bullshit.

After another 10 minutes of agony...I raised my hand again, and said, "Look, things are getting bad with my bladder. When are we gonna break?"

Once again, "Thank you for sharing."

I had heard about people pissing their pants at one of these things...and didn't really want to have that happen. Another minute or two elapsed...and I could take no more. I stood up! The instructor looked at me but didn't say a word. I was in the front row ( bit hard of hearing, so I try to sit up close)...so there was no need to walk up front. I looked him in the eye and said, "Tell you what else I am sure you are gonna thank me for sharing. I'm gonna take my dick out right now and I am gonna piss all over the rug right where you are standing unless I get to go out to the men's room right now.

I carried the day.

But I'da pissed on his shoes and laughed about it if he hadn't given in.

I let about a minute go by
Coyote, thanks.

Frank, although I am revolutionary at heart, OS can take solace that I don't have any stories of real hijackings.

And thanks for sharing your story. Ha! Anyone else got any good bladder-bursting vignettes?
Thanks for a great read! Having to pee on the Green Line is a pretty terrible experience. As is commuting on the Green Line every morning. Some poor girl passed out on my B-Line train this morning from the heat.

Drinking and the Green Line are an awful combination. In high school, a friend of mine who couldn't hold his liquor started puking at the front of the train. He puked into his hat, which finally couldn't contain any more vomit and began to overflow. The spew ran down the entire length of the trolley, guided by the grooves of the rubberized floor.
Great story.

Boy, did I spend some time on that B-line. This story certainly brings back memories. I always thought it was the height of ridiculousness that the subway shut down so early. I certainly screwed up a few times and had to make the very long, cold walk home from Cambridge after just missing that last train!
A hellacious need to piss will break even the strongest man. Great post. Rated!
Dude, why didn't you just run into the tunnel and piss against the wall like any other drunk Husky? I spent half my life riding those screeching, rattling shit boxes but I never had the opportunity to shut one down. Nice work!
Zyskandar: Thanks. That was great! Bridging two sides of an equation, indeed.

Hatchetface: Clearly, the average Husky would do as you suggest, but, being originally from Boston, I had at the time felt that it was finally time for me to make the T start listening to me!
Uh Corey, if you were on the "B" line, you weren't going to NU, or anywhere near it., so I assume that your apartment wasn't near campus.

I spent a year at BU and lived on Babcock St in Brookline with my wife and kids. To this day, I never drive in Boston if I can take the T. I've loved it since I was a little tyke.

Of course, you're correct; I was waiting for the E train. But the photo above isn't actually from that fateful night, lol. It was the best Park Street Geen Line photo I could dig up with a Creative Commons permission. If I had photoshop skills, I'd change the sign to "E Arborway" and I'd paste myself into the driver's seat (even though we're looking at the back end, not the front).
"The Taking of Pelham One Two Three - GREAT film!

That is hilarious. The things men will do to get with women or take a screaming whiz!

rated and I'm still laughing.
"Sweet Jesus, I wish the pain would stop. My pelvis is seconds away from rupturing. My insides wait in urgent pregnancy to ooze from my core, ready to coat the seats and floor beneath me." This has to be the best description I have ever read of needing to pee!
Corey! B line to Washington St!
Washington street to Brighton.
Clean toilets!
Bring expensive beer
hilarious! Man, drunk twenty one year olds will do the most amazing things.
This was so hysterical I almost peed myself reading! I have my own story, but I think I'm dragging it kicking and screaming to the grave.
Rated for both subject matter and great descriptive writing.
The Frog Pond. Great piece.

Greg - glad you caught the 'Pelham' tag.

Caruso - by expensive, do you mean domestic craft brew or monastic Belgian-type stuff.

Of course at the time I didn't see this as a "hijacking" situation. But another thing dawned on me - if I succeeded I would have had hostages, too! I should probably be at "Open Gitmo" right now, awaiting Habeas rights that will never come.

Thanks everyone for the compliments, this is a story I've never told on paper and I'm glad to see it transferred well. I'm also not big into writing first-person narratives, so, again, thank you.

And don't try this at home. Or your next visit to Boston.