Respect the Railroad

Feb. 11, 2009
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(1) While investigating a robbery at The Beer Store in January, Toronto police officers said they parked their cruiser by some nearby railroad tracks. Later, after a train had crushed the cruiser, they admitted that it had probably been parked "a little bit on the tracks." (2) A 68-year-old driver got stuck on railroad tracks in Anaheim, Calif., in December. Unfortunately, when panic set in at the sight of an oncoming train, she decided to call 911 on her cell phone rather than exit the car. (3) In October, Matthew Randall, 40, had a happier ending in Ashland, Mass., after he drove onto the rails and was seen "barreling down the tracks" toward a train. CSX engineers were able to slow down before the collision, which knocked the car onto a side road. Randall actually drove the vehicle home, though he was later arrested for leaving the scene, trespassing on railroad tracks and, not surprisingly, DUI.


  • Police in New Britain, Conn., arrested Joel Rubin, 42, in January and charged him with using a stolen credit card. Inexplicably, Rubin tried to use his own store discount card to get a lower price on the merchandise. As you might expect, Rubin's name on the discount card tipped off police. But it was not clear why Rubin wanted to save a few bucks off a bill that would be sent to someone else.
  • Secondary-Level Questions: (1) In December, Pauline McCook of Britain's Isle of Sheppey reported a theft from her front yard of a life-sized glass statue of mobster Al Capone. It was not reported why McCook would own such a statue in the first place. (2) In Plant City, Fla., in December, Robert Thompson and Taurus Morris were charged with armed burglary after taking a man's eggbeater at knife-point. It was not reported why they wanted the eggbeater or why the victim had to be threatened at knife-point to get it.

 Role Reversal

 In January, a woman was standing beside her bicycle on the South Boulder (Colo.) Creek Trail when a cow charged and tipped her over. The cow stepped on her legs before walking off, but the woman was not seriously injured.

 Poetry on the Rise

 (1) In December, 12 local poets jumped into the frigid Green Lake in Seattle because they thought it would be a good way to publicize their art. "It's not enough to write," one poet said. "You need that audience." (2) Jose Gouveia, 45, recently published Rubber Side Down, a book of poems by bikers about the open road, including 17-syllable "baiku" and pieces from the Highway Poets Motorcycle Club of Cambridge, Mass.

 People With Issues

 "I take (my baby) to the park … maybe put it in its stroller, or put it in its sling, or hold it in a blanket," a 49-year-old "mother" told ABC News reporters in January. She is part of the "reborn" community of women who take care of fake babies the same way they would care for real ones (which they choose not to have, or cannot have). Reborn dolls are exquisitely manufactured, selling for $500 and up, and require real baby clothes rather than doll suits. In addition to the obvious benefits, such as no diapers and no college fund, reborns will always remain infants.

 No Rest for the Wicked

 (1) In November, Katherine Kelly, 76, was arrested for stealing a wallet from a supermarket basket in New York City. It was at least her 73rd arrest, with 16 convictions. But police say the total number of arrests could actually be higher, in that they've found 36 aliases for Kelly so far. (2) In October, Henry Earl, 58, of Lexington, Ky., was arrested yet again. Earl has now been arrested 1,333 times, almost always for public intoxication, according to's public-records search.

 A News of the Weird Classic (August 2002) 

 In a July 2002 profile of the Lane brothers, New York's Newsday showed that character isn’t always in the name. The Lane brothers, who live in New York City and are both in their 40s, were legally named Winner and Loser by their parents. But Winner Lane has a long rap sheet of petty crimes, while his younger brother, Loser, is a decorated police detective in South Bronx.

  2009 Chuck Shepherd


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