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Before Fighting Atop A Moving Train, Some Things To Consider

BRIAN MCCONNACHIE: The next time you see someone climbing up on the roof of a moving train and chasing after whoever else may be up there and engaging them in a fist fight, you might ask yourself - isn't that dangerous?

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Commentator Brian McConnachie.

MCCONNACHIE: You'd think they go into the parlor car to slug it out, unless it was the people in the parlor car who told the brawlers to take it outside and up a flight. But say you find yourself in this situation. There are some things to consider while you're up there, such as if your back is facing the direction that the train is traveling in. You have to rely on the person you're in the fistfight with to warn you - hey, tunnel coming up, better duck - and then realize can you really trust the person you're fighting with to warn you about low tunnels, or is this the railroad equivalent of - hey, look, your shoe's untied? A low-clearance tunnel victory is an ugly way to win a train top fight, but for some guys it's all they have. What about hats, you might ask. Say you decided to wear a hat that day, and good for you. More and more people are wearing hats. Hats are nice. Hats are good, but they're absolutely worthless in a fist-fight on top of a speeding train. You're not going to land too many punches lying on your stomach in the dark of a tunnel clinging to the roof of a train and pulling your hat down tight over your ears with one hand and throwing punches into the dark with the other. Then - uh-oh - your pants start to come undone. While trying to fix the problem with your pants, guess what? Your hat blows off and then you want to go chasing after it. I know. It's instinctual. But forget the hat. It's gone. You can buy another one. Try and concentrate on this fight you've gotten yourself into. But who was doing all this train-top fighting, you might ask. Well, cowboys who refuse to admit their train-roof fighting days are over, spies, of course, acrobatic hobos, train robbers, people who can't find their seats, people who can find their seats but other people are in them - the list goes on and on. What are they actually fighting about and is it worth it? Lately, some hot-button issues have included how much do our souls weigh and are elephants the only mammals that have four knees? On the other hand, what about putting a stop to this brawl? Say you're in a sleeping car in an upper bunk in your pajamas trying to read the latest copy of AARP and you hear all this thumping and banging around on the roof of the train. And you think that's it, I'm going to put a stop to this. I can't say I like your odds, but you might consider before you enter into the fray with whoever else is up there, is my hat on tight enough? And you'd better retie the pull string on your pajama bottoms. These have been some thoughts to ponder the next time you see men chasing each other around on the roof of a speeding train and thinking, hey, that looks like fun. Well, it isn't, and I hope these thoughts have been helpful to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Actor, comedy writer and children's book author, Brian McConnachie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.