Sunday, January 14, 2007

Train Dorks

Last Sunday there was a train show in Hudson at the American Legion Hall. A big ad in the local paper gave the impression that it would be something that Grace, who is currently in a train phase, would enjoy. There would be plenty of model trains on little tracks, with those wonderful lifelike trees, old time gas stations, and other bygone artifacts. Sweet.

Admission was $3. Within a minute or 2 it was painfully clear that I would have been better off finding a crackhead who would make train sounds for us to give the money to. In the over 3000 square feet of floor space, there was exactly one setup, a large-ish train with 4 cars. Not one fuzzy tree, no miniature towns. Just a solitary locomotive going around a mountain (molehill?) that was in dire need of a paint and patch job. Nonetheless, there was a small crowd of disappointed children crowded around this feeble B&O. Any port in a storm.

The place also crawling with (ok, actually 2 that I saw) fathers wearing t-shirts with dubious sayings. Not being a reporter by trade, I neglected to write them down, but think along the lines of "Does this Tshirt make me look horny/". Between that and the concession stand selling sweaty hot dogs and Sam's Club sodas, we bid a hasty retreat.

In the interest of salvaging the outing, we headed down to the local real train station and waited for a passenger train to make an appearance. All's well that ends well.

Lesson: Never go to a train show.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mininum Wages of Sin

I notied today that everyone's favorite bowtie wearing conservative (not Tucker), George Will, again called for abolishing the minimum wage.

The quote to know:
"But the minimum wage should be the same everywhere: $0. Labor is a commodity; governments make messes when they decree commodities' prices." (note to Mr. Will: what about farm subsidies?)

Is it me, or does a minimum wage of 0 only insure that more and more illegal immigrants come to this country. As it stands now, people who make far far less than the avg. native born American are willing to come because the wage offered here is better than home. By lowering it further still (see the news about Wal-Mart and their idea for flex hours to get an idea about where cheap labor is heading), we will insure that others will find their way to do the work that no native born poeple would shake a stick at, thereby creating an even bigger illegal immigrant situation that we currently face. Certain immigrants would only work for $5, others for $4, still others for $3. Still beats working for Nike in Bangladesh.

To follow Mr. Will's logic, why have a minimum work age? Labor is a commidity, why not laborers? If 11 year olds want to quit school to cut George Will's lawn for $2.28 an hour, then what could be wrong with that. Supply, meet demand.

Never Let Them Say New Yorkers Aren't Good People

Amid all the crap, this story is simply wonderful. From the Paper of Record:

Construction Worker One Day, Subway Hero the Next
Wesley Autrey teetered back and forth on the edge of a subway platform yesterday, re-enacting how he dived onto the tracks of a southbound No. 1 train in Manhattan on Tuesday to save another man’s life.

A little boy with black hair and a bowl cut followed each of his moves. Other passers-by at the 137th Street station let loose the occasional hurrah or hand clap. Still others riffled through newspapers, which featured Mr. Autrey’s picture and headlines like “Subway Superman.”

A few subway stops away, at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center on 114th street near Amsterdam Avenue, Cameron Hollopeter underwent a second day of medical evaluation. Police said Mr. Hollopeter, a first-year film student at the New York Film Academy, had suffered a seizure, which sent him convulsing off the platform and onto the tracks, where Mr. Autrey held him down as the train rumbled just inches above them.

Moments after the train came to a halt, Mr. Autrey recounted yesterday, Mr. Hollopeter asked if he was dead. “I said, ‘You are very much alive, but if you move you’ll kill the both of us.’ ” Both men emerged from the episode with little more than bruises, but Mr. Autrey also emerged a star.

Mr. Autrey, a 50-year-old construction worker, said he knew something was different when he showed up for work later on Tuesday. His boss, he said, bought him lunch — a ham-and-cheese hero — and later told him to take yesterday off.

Then yesterday morning, as he walked to his mother’s apartment in Harlem, “a stranger came up and put $10 in my hand,” he said. “People in my neighborhood were like, ‘Yo, I know this guy.’ ”

Once at his mother’s apartment, he held interviews in the living room with some of the national morning news programs.

After that, it was back to the scene, where he recounted Mr. Hollopeter’s backward tumble off the platform and into the path of the oncoming train.

Throughout the day, Mr. Autrey’s sister, Linda, 48, played the role of administrative assistant, logging invitations for the talk-show circuit, including requests from the David Letterman, Charlie Rose and Ellen DeGeneres shows. Phone calls from well-wishers came pouring in, including one from the mayor’s office. Mr. Autrey said he had been offered cash, trips and scholarships for his two daughters, Syshe, 4, and Shuqui, 6, who watched as he dived to the trackbed.

“Donald Trump’s got a check waiting on me,” he said. “They offered to mail it; I said, ‘No, I’d like to meet the Donald, so I can say, Yo, you’re fired.’ ”

By the end of the day, the president of the New York Film Academy, Jerry Sherlock, had personally handed him a $5,000 check.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Autrey and Mr. Hollopeter met again. The meeting was closed to reporters, but afterward Mr. Autrey described how he stepped into Mr. Hollopeter’s hospital room, where they shared a few laughs as Mr. Hollopeter’s father stood by with tears in his eyes.

Shortly after 4 p.m., Mr. Autrey walked out of the hospital with Mr. Hollopeter’s father, Larry, and into a throng of more than 30 reporters and camera operators who jammed microphones into their faces.

“This is Cameron’s father,” Mr. Autrey began. “He’s a very, very, nice, nice man and, you know, I’m not used to this press,” he said, as reporters shouted at them to lean closer to the microphones and camera shutters popped like party favors.

Mr. Hollopeter was nervous, his hands shaking, as he read from handwritten notes.

“Mr. Autrey’s instinctive and unselfish act —— ” Mr. Hollopeter said, hesitating, as reporters inched closer. “There are no words to properly express our gratitude and feelings for his actions. Cameron is recovering and stable. Now he needs his rest, and our wishes are that you respect his privacy. May God’s blessings be with Mr. Autrey and his family.”

The teary father then slipped back into the hospital, apparently overcome with emotion.

“Me and the families are trying to make some plans so his family can meet my family and we can have a little gathering,” Mr. Autrey said, before breaking into a hearty laugh. “Without the media!”

Mr. Autrey was asked to reflect on the experience.

“Maybe I was in the right place at the right time, and good things happen for good people,” Mr. Autrey said.

Then he hopped into his brother-in-law’s tan Toyota Corolla. As the car pulled away, Mr. Autrey had some final words: “All New Yorkers! If you see somebody in distress, go for it!”