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Beware of stampedes
Old 04-11-2017, 08:59 AM   #1
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Beware of stampedes

It was a textbook mid summer day, blazing sun, crystal clear blue skies and more touch than a of humidity. By 5PM the scorching summer sun had its done its job and the thermometer read nearly 100 degrees. There's a special smell that only exist on these the hottest days of summer when the tar based pavement liquifies with the heat - the air was full of that smell.

This was well before casual Fridays and the ties and suit jackets added to the discomfort of the dense herd milling about on the Hunters Point Avenue station platform. Those commuters had already braved the inferno that was the subway just to get here. They were parched, skittish and more than ready to stampede. Of course being a wet behind the ears 19 year old summer parlor car attendant I didn't know that.

The bar car was built at a time when things were meant to last; even so it was ancient when I climbed aboard on it over 40 years ago. The bar itself stretched almost the full length of the car. Plenty of room for 2 bar tenders. When I look back to it all now I can't help but think how poorly organized the Long Island Rail Road was and how ill prepared I was. The full timer who met me asked if I had change. I said no and he shook his head and then fronted me the needed funds. He instructed me to fill the large metal sinks with beer and ice which I did. He probably said in all 20 words to me - that was extent of my training. I noticed there seemed to be a great deal of Budweiser on hand. The full timer was well organized, a cigar box for his cash, an opener handy. All ready for the impending onslaught. I felt a bit naked.

The train started forward with a lurch and we crept into the station. The bar car had a bit of a rolling motion - just how many millions of miles had it seen? How many beers had slid across the Bar top? It was then that I got a appreciation of just how big that herd was. They seem to be 10 or 15 deep,and a funny thing they all seem to want to get into this car. It also was then that it clicked in that razor sharp mind of mine -omg they want beer.

It may have been my first rodeo but it wasn't for the commuters. There is a kind of queuing theory science to it. They milled around on the platform in what appeared to be a rather random patterns but had you studied it closely you would have noted it was like a mini americas cup start. At the appropriate time, as if a cannon sounded, they scooted to the exact spot they expected those doors to open. Impressive.

Not surprisingly the first through the door briskly came to me and demanded 'Budweiser!'. I reached down into that icy cold sink and pulled forth his 75 cent nectar of the gods. He flipped the dollar to me and quickly stepped out of the way - more out of self preservation then etiquette. The herd had smelled the 'water' and was extremely impatient. I sensed this and worked as fas as I could. It was then that had another epiphany- the 25 cent tip and omg that ice water is cold. The next hour or passed in a blur and when it was over there was money everywhere. The full timer had it all in order I on the other hand was a mess. Frost bite of the fingers is a particularly nasty affair - the pain starts when your fingers start to warm up. I must admit someone must have a sense of this bar business because I believe we sold out at the end of the ride.

In the end I survived, learned a lot and I guess I was a small part of history: Those bar cars, along with the parlor were scrapped decades ago. Although I prefer a draft Yuengling; Budweiser will always hold a special place in my heart. I sure can understand how good a cold one can be after 'working for the man' all week on a beautiful summer Friday night.

Oh beware of stampedes...
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Old 04-11-2017, 09:12 AM   #2
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This reminds me of a story told way back when I was first working with the crew on the assembly floor.

"Don't ever discount the fact that these folks are able to work very efficiently and quickly. If you ever doubt that, watch how quickly they can get off the factory floor, through the time clock, and out of the parking lot at quitting time!"
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Old 04-11-2017, 03:09 PM   #3
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Nice story, rayinpenn. Thanks.
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Old 04-11-2017, 03:21 PM   #4
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Your frostbite might not have seemed as bad if the old timer was more supportive.
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Old 04-11-2017, 04:30 PM   #5
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Good story, thanks.
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Old 04-11-2017, 05:42 PM   #6
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I was an auditor working at a textile mill. I was returning a stack of invoices I had pulled and in the hallway heading to the desk of the clerk who had pulled them for me. Suddenly , someone grabbed me by the shirt collar and jerked me into an office. I turned around and was about to swear at him, when I realized it was a VP (I had started with the accounting form only 3 months before). I got my composure and asked why he did that, and he pointed to the hall where I had just been. It was packed with 200 people trying to clock out at 5pm. Just as fast as they filled the hall, they emptied out to the parking lot. I was shocked. The VP walked me to the clerk's desk then took me to the punch clock. From the first one clocked out (at 5:00) to the last (at 5:02), it was a well oiled machine of getting out. 200 people picked up their time card, punched out, and replaced the card in the rack in 2 minutes!! I asked what happens if someone drops their card. He laughed and said that you are just pushed out of the way and when you find your card (by now kicked down the hallway by the herd), you are clocking out at 5:03 and tomorrow your supervisor will ask you why you tried to work overtime!
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Old 04-11-2017, 08:11 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Taxman59 View Post
I was an auditor working at a textile mill. I was returning a stack of invoices I had pulled and in the hallway heading to the desk of the clerk who had pulled them for me. Suddenly , someone grabbed me by the shirt collar and jerked me into an office. I turned around and was about to swear at him, when I realized it was a VP (I had started with the accounting form only 3 months before). I got my composure and asked why he did that, and he pointed to the hall where I had just been. It was packed with 200 people trying to clock out at 5pm. Just as fast as they filled the hall, they emptied out to the parking lot. I was shocked. The VP walked me to the clerk's desk then took me to the punch clock. From the first one clocked out (at 5:00) to the last (at 5:02), it was a well oiled machine of getting out. 200 people picked up their time card, punched out, and replaced the card in the rack in 2 minutes!! I asked what happens if someone drops their card. He laughed and said that you are just pushed out of the way and when you find your card (by now kicked down the hallway by the herd), you are clocking out at 5:03 and tomorrow your supervisor will ask you why you tried to work overtime!

LOL.... this was a bit like when I had my stint in London... my office was the last one by the exit... once I was standing there talking to someone when I noticed it was 4:58.... I told the gal she needed to move or she would be trampled... sure enough... the 50 or so people came by (but more orderly) and left... no time clock to punch, but all were gone in 3 minutes.... she was in shock... this did not happen in the US....
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Old 04-11-2017, 08:47 PM   #8
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Fun story!
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Old 04-11-2017, 11:19 PM   #9
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I once worked on the 4th floor of a 4 story building. At 4:30 (end of day), a huge line of non-management ee's waited at the elevators. The stairs were nearly empty.
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Old 04-12-2017, 06:52 AM   #10
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I used to work at a union plant. Union employees refused to walk between buildings if it was raining or there was lightning in the area during working hours. However, at the end of day not even the apocalypse could stop them from walking thru the maelstrom and brimstone to get to their cars, (or in some cases Harley's).
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Old 04-12-2017, 08:01 AM   #11
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Stampedes...
Hmm... sounds like an opportunity to plug in a story from the past. (Will tie in to the "stampede " part at the end.)

Thirty-eight years ago, a promotion from the Albany office to Chicago.. Saratoga, NY, to Lisle Il. From a 20 minute easy auto commute, to a more complicated process in Illinois. Up at 5AM leave house at 5:20, the walk to arrive at Burlington Northern Commuter train station in Lisle... board the train at 5:46, two stops and arrive Chicago at 6:35... Up the stairs at the terminal to the street to pick up our company school bus shuttle to the building, elevator to the 19th floor. Begin work at 7:AM...
Turn around at 4:30PM elevator to bus to train to walk home in time for dinner at 6:15PM.

Tie in to "stampede"...
It was at the Lisle Station... Embedded memory... Outside...Winter... 30 degrees, rain/snow and windy... dark...
The train always stopped with the doors to open, with a ten foot margin. That meant that the cluster of 30 soaking wet, smelly, wool overcoated commuters would have to move to get to the train steps. It was a herd... a stampede.
Now basically, that would be okay, except for... the five foot, very fat lady whose goal in life was to be first in line... every time. Most of the time, she was early so she only had to shove four or five commuters out of the way, but forbid the days when she was a little late, because it was bump, push, elbow, and lean until she made it to the front. Think running of the bulls.

Did this for three years until my daily commute turned into limo's to O'Hare, to fly around the country in my last job... shutting down the 2400 catalog facilities during the next two years.
Memories are made of this.
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Old 04-12-2017, 10:40 AM   #12
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Old 04-12-2017, 10:45 AM   #13
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I learned years ago that a well placed corner of an attache case behind the knee of the guy in front of you gets them to move quickly!
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