Photo by Michael Essington
Years ago I was watching an episode of Taxi Cab Confessions (remember that show?). And one of the guys that hopped into the back of the cab was a subway cop. Like they did, they baited the guy long enough until they got him talking.
One of his worst experiences while working the subway was this:
A guy was standing too close to the edge and was somehow pushed over and onto the subway tracks. While he was on the tracks the subway came and hit him. The lower half of his body was stuck under the tracks. When the train hit him it twisted the top of his body completely around. Now the subway cop had the horrible job of going down onto the tracks and telling the guy that he is alive at the moment, but once they attempt to remove him that his body will spin back around and sever his spine and he will die instantly.
I can’t think of a more horrible task. The guy is alive, though traumatized, and looking at you, understanding your words, but trying to comprehend the fact that if moved he is dead.
I’ve never had to deal with death like that. Most of the people that I’ve known have gone very quickly.
In 1984, while in barber school, I was leaving through the back door one day at lunch, when, about, twenty feet away from me I heard a small cherry-picker whirring away and lifting a guy up into the air. The guy got out of the picker and was attempting to wrap a belt around himself and a telephone pole.
I watched him leave the cherry-picker, loop the belt and then I saw him fall and hit his head on curb. For a second every one of the four other pole workers yelled, “Oh my god, shit,” etc. Then everything went insanely quiet. For the next five minutes it was like the city shut down.
I watched, after what felt like hours, as one of the crew members ran to the truck and radioed for help.
I stood there for a little bit, kind of, stunned. And not really able to move, then all at once the world started again. Cars flying by, the crew started chatting to bystanders. In an instant everything was back to normal, with the exception of a guy lying in the gutter with his head on the curb.
It was all very surreal. I had to return to school. At 2:30, when I was leaving, the crew was gone, as was the body. That night I popped on the news and there was no mention of the guy. Kind of sad.