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Railroaders' Nostalgia > The Case of The Bruised Scrotum


Date: 07/31/19 00:35
The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

Now that I'm retired, I can share some of this stuff without having to worry about reprisals.  Theoretically.   

Several years ago, when I was working as an Assistant Conductor for Amtrak out of Los Angeles, two passengers on Train 3, a mother and her son, made a claim that I kicked the son in, shall we say, a very private area of his anatomy.

Needless to say, the Company wanted to hear my version of the incident.  What follows is a reproduction of a written statement I gave to one of my supervisors, and his responding correspondence, which appears as JPG attachments.  Certain names have been changed to protect the guilty.  Others remain as those people are either retired or deceased.      

Inter Office Correspondence 
From:  Joe Schmoe, Assistant Conductor -- Amtrak Train # 3 
To:      I. P. Freely, Road Foreman of Engines, Los Angeles 
cc:      Ray Garcia, UTU Local Chairman 

Mr. Freely, 

Per your phone request, here is a written statement from me regarding an incident that occurred on Train # 3 a few weeks ago. 

As I recall the incident, we had just departed Needles, CA close to our scheduled departure time of 00:49, headed west.  Needles has, over the last several years, become an extremely busy non-agency station and we had about ten to fifteen coach passengers who were in immediate need of seating.  Since we pass through that town near mdnight, through passengers, in an effort to find more spacious sleeping quarters, have a tendency to move from their designated seat to other unoccupied seats where they feel they can "stretch out."  At this point, they are no longer sitting under their seat marker / "hat check", and I no longer have any idea who they are or where they're going.  Such was the case with the mother-and-son complaining party in this instant case.  The mother was on one side of the aisle under her "hat check" and the son had, without proper authorization or consultation with a crewmember, earlier moved from the seat adjacent to his mother to a two-seater that I was intending to use for the newly-arrived passengers who had boarded at Needles. He was completely covered with a blanket but, from the shape of the blanket, it  
appeared his head was near the window and his feet were near the aisle***.  

After a verbal command failed to wake him, I very gently used my foot / shoe to "nudge" him awake.  Judging from the shape of the blanket, I believe I "nudged" him on his lower leg / ankle / foot.  The reason I used my foot / shoe was that the newly-arrived passengers were growing impatient for seating, verbal commands were not working, and the subject of the complaint was physically closer to the lower part of my body as opposed to the upper part. 

I find it noteworthy that the mother was awake to observe my actions, yet she was unable to observe that there were about ten passengers standing in the aisle in need of seating.  She failed to size up the situation and take a pro-active approach by waking her son and having him return to his original, authorized seat.  Instead, she just passively sat at her seat, observed my actions, and then criticized my approach to the situation. 

To my knowledge, neither the mother nor son complained to any employee of any bodily injury at any time while the train was traveling from Needles to its termination point of Los Angeles, CA. 

The Amtrak police department contacted me via telephone several days after this incident to obtain more nformation as to what happened.  I do not know the name of the officer I spoke to.  After I furnished the officer with my version of the event, I was left with the impression that this was not going to expand into the situation that it apparently has.  I would even speculate that, on any given day, there are many Amtrak passengers who have to be "nudged" awake so they will not miss their stop or to make seats available for other passengers. 

I invite your suggestions as to how we are supposed to wake passengers when they are in a deep sleep and verbal commands are ineffective.  Apparently, if we touch them in any way, it exposes the Company to a potential lawsuit.  I know of a retired conductor at Metrolink who had this same problem.  He physically "nudged" a passenger and the passenger promptly filed a formal complaint.  He then switched to a method of clapping his hands loudly several inches away from the passenger.  The passenger(s) still complained about that method as well.  They would probably want to file a lawsuit for an alleged damaged eardrum.     


*** This assumption on my part later proved to be accurate when he finally came out from under the blanket and surrendered the seat.  







Date: 07/31/19 05:11
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: dcfbalcoS1

           I take it that you ( and all of us reading this ) were left with no definite answer to the proper method of waking a sleeping passenger. In Europe ( years ago ) they gave you a good kick.



Date: 07/31/19 08:49
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

dcfbalcoS1 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>  I take it that you ( and all of us reading this ) were left with no definite answer to the proper method of waking a sleeping passenger. 


Correct.  They expect you to use your best judgement, which I did.  That policy is in effect until they get a complaint letter from a passenger, or, worse, when a passenger files a lawsuit over an inter-action with an employee.  Things then take off from there.  When I told my co-worker / Conductor that the Road Foreman wanted a written statement from me, he said, "The only reason they want that is to get it on paper and, at the very least, you'll probably be getting a letter in your file."  

He was exactly right.  



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/19 16:57 by CA_Sou_MA_Agent.



Date: 07/31/19 09:05
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: exhaustED

I think in the modern world you need to be issued with a tazer! One that actively detects and targets the aforementioned sensitive area...

With regard to your historical incident - wherever you'd kicked him he'd have been a bruised scrotum! Not that you did kick him, obviously..



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/19 09:26 by exhaustED.



Date: 07/31/19 12:15
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: tomstp

To me the employee did right.  It appears Amtrak doesn't back it's employees when someone sends a complaint letter.  No common sense.  Employee should demand the compalining officer tell him "exactly" what to do.  If he can't then he should agree with the employee.



Date: 07/31/19 17:23
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: Englewood

I am sure that letter was a good morale raiser.
Another situation where reservations with actual seat numbers would avoid problems.
It must be fun to ride in a coach overnight in the 21st century.



Date: 07/31/19 18:49
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: PHall

Englewood Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I am sure that letter was a good morale raiser.
> Another situation where reservations with actual
> seat numbers would avoid problems.
> It must be fun to ride in a coach overnight in the
> 21st century.

And there are people that do it every night. Mostly for cost reasons.



Date: 07/31/19 20:43
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

I discussed this dilemma with some other conductors and a guy based out of Albuquerque had a pretty good method that I adopted.  Whenever someone wouldn't wake up, I would shake the back of the seat with progressively more violence until they DID wake up.  This generally worked, especially if they were sleeping in an upright position instead of laying cross-wise across the two seats.  They couldn't claim I violated their space by touching them because I never DID touch them.  Shaking the seat back, however, made lots of noise, and one time another passenger sitting nearby complained that I was making too much noise and was interrupting her beauty sleep.

She needed a lot of it.  

I'm glad I'm retired.  



Date: 07/31/19 22:26
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: mundo

Sorry to say as much as I would like to see assigned seat numbers return, they will not stop folks from moving around, such as in this case  or being a carry by.

Yes, it would help, but not 100%.  I railroaded with assigned seats and cars. 



Date: 08/01/19 20:12
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: cabsignaldrop

Amtrak does not back its employees  up and have taken most authority away from the conductors.  Every situation is a potential catch 22.  Dammed if you do, dammed if you don't.  And the public is only getting worse.  Enjoy your retirement!  I'll work as long as I can tolerate to keep paying into RR retirement :-)



Date: 08/01/19 21:19
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: 567Chant

Mebbe technology could be employed -
...Lorenzo




Date: 08/08/19 07:07
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: Englewood

On the Rock Island commuter trains the trainmen would take out their ticket punch
and rap it sharply on the baggage rack in the old cars and the lower wall of the upper level
on the gallery cars.  Enought noise to waken those required to produce a ticket.

I believe the practice is no longer allowed under Metra.



Date: 08/08/19 10:13
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: PHall

Englewood Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> On the Rock Island commuter trains the trainmen
> would take out their ticket punch
> and rap it sharply on the baggage rack in the old
> cars and the lower wall of the upper level
> on the gallery cars.  Enought noise to waken
> those required to produce a ticket.
>
> I believe the practice is no longer allowed under
> Metra.

Do they even carry ticket punches anymore? That could be why it's not allowed. No one has one.



Date: 08/08/19 12:56
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: Englewood

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Do they even carry ticket punches anymore? That
> could be why it's not allowed. No one has one.

Metra trainperson will still cut you a cash fare using a punch.

Where punches are no longer used perhaps a sap glove, brass knuckles or truncheon
could be used for the appropriate noise maker.



Date: 08/08/19 13:29
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: PHall

Metra still does paper tickets? How 19th Century of them.
All of the commuter railways that I've ridden on in the past 10 years (Metrolink, Coaster, CalTrain) all use TVM's on the platform.
There is no way to buy a ticket once you're aboard.



Date: 08/09/19 07:08
Re: The Case of The Bruised Scrotum
Author: kevink

Metra still uses ticket punches and, at least on the BNSF and UP, they will use them to wake sleeping passengers or get someone's attention while checking tickets.



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