Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

Shameless self-promotion of my writing skills or lack there of.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


That’s right, it’s time for another installment of The Darwin Awards.

(30 September 1996, Finland) In a private rail yard, an engineer and two crew members were shunting freight cars to their unloading points. The final task was to dock thirteen loaded timber cars, and one filled with ammonia. The crewmember to watch was riding on the stepboard of the ammonia car, holding a handrail for balance. This common practice is considered safe, since the maximum shunting speed is 5 kph.
However, his next move was anything but safe.
The ammonia car needed to be separated from the timber cars. Following the normal procedure, the train is halted after the switch, and backed to the correct track, where the ammonia car is uncoupled, and then the rest of the train continues on. But the engineer wasn't sure the yard engine could start moving again with the timber, so he decided to leave the ammonia car on the level track after the slope beyond the switch.
He shared this plan with his crew.
The clever crew member riding on the ammonia car realized that the engineer's new plan meant more work for him, so he decided to make it easy on himself, and uncouple the ammonia car while the train was moving -- without informing the others.
To uncouple the car, he performed the following tasks: He moved from the stepboard to the fender and coupler, which have no real foothold, hung from the ammonia car's handrail, and closed its switch valve. Then he hung from the timber car's handrail and closed its switch valve. He disconnected the inter-car brake hose with his foot. Lastly, he disconnected the coupler, uncoupling the cars.
After accomplishing this impressive acrobatic feat, the crewmember still had to stop the ammonia car in the right place. He intended to use the brake valve next to his foot. However, when the inter-car brake hose is disconnected, opening the brake valve results in emergency maximum-strength braking. Although the crewmember was aware of this fact, the strength of the braking apparently surprised him. Since he was clinging precariously to the ammonia car, one foot on the fender and one foot on the brake valve, he was in no position to maintain his balance. He was thrown onto the rail, where the front wheels of the ammonia car ran across his torso, killing him instantly.
The car stopped less than five meters away, 150 meters too early, so his timesaving efforts were for naught.


At 5:57 AM, Blogger lime said...

Ok, class the train goes 'Choo choo!' and the crewmember goes 'Squish.'

Crimony, aside from being fatally idiotic the maneuver sounds like much more work than doing things properly.

At 7:30 AM, Blogger barefoot_mistress said...

Um, I dont think Id want that job!

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Carrie said...

I love Dar-Wednesday.

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Dana Y. T. Lin said...

I just realize I live for your Dar-Wednesdays.

Soooo, who's fault it is? The one who got squished or the one who changed the original plan?

At 9:50 AM, Blogger James Goodman said...

Lime, sadly there are tons of people out there that would work harder to get out of doing what they're suppposed to, than they would if they just did the job right the first time. This one just paid for his laziness with his life.

lol, barefoot. That's a shame because it turns out they have a position available. :D

Thanks, Carrie.

lol, Dana I better not stop posting these then. I would say it was the one who got squished fault. Stupid is as stupid does and all that...

At 10:57 AM, Blogger snavy said...

*shakes head*

At 11:07 AM, Blogger M.E Ellis said...

Ouch! That HAD to have hurt!


At 11:47 AM, Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Oh, ouch!

And I too live for Dar-Wednesdays!

At 12:26 PM, Blogger James Goodman said...

Thank you ladies, I'll keep posting them as long as you keep enjoying them. :D

At 1:41 PM, Blogger lime said...

add me to the general consensus of dar-wednesday lovers. i always come away feeling like a mensa member.

At 3:41 PM, Blogger James Goodman said...

Glad to hear it, Lime. :D

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