EDIT: 09/01/2014 – I see that this story is getting a lot of traffic from some train forum called SubChat. This story is fiction. I am a fiction writer and I make myself write a fictitious story every day. No, I didn’t really sneak into the Hillside Support Facility.
I grew up on Long Island, but now I live in Queens, so every time I want to go home and visit my parents, I have to take the Long Island Rail Road. It’s expensive, yeah, but I don’t have to take it every day, and so I don’t really have any reason to complain about the price, seeing as how it’s fast, it runs very regularly, and I don’t have to deal with rush hour or anything.
But it always drives me crazy, there are like four or five stops in between where I live and where my parents live, and one of them is this place called the Hillside Support Facility. Every time they announce Hillside Support Facility, the conductor makes it a point to tell us that it’s for Long Island Railroad employees only. And sure enough, we pull into this mystery train station, it’s like all industrial looking, like we’ve arrived at the second level from Sonic the Hedgehog, and all of the sudden all of these guys in orange vests and hardhats and work boots are standing up and getting off or coming on.
Every time it just drives me crazy, I want to go to the Hillside Support Facility. Why should employees get their own private train station? I’m sure they’ve got like cool soda machines and maybe an air-conditioned waiting room. Why won’t they let me get off? Why can’t I just walk along the tracks and see what’s going on? I’m not going to walk into any offices or anything, like, if I find some closed doors, I’m not just going to start opening them up and peeking inside. And worse case, I do open up a door and snoop around a little, I’m not going to just leave the door open after I’m done, I’ll shut it behind me, I promise.
It’ll be like I was never there. And these thoughts, they flash through my mind and I’m like, I’m going to do it, I’m going to get off at the Hillside Support Facility, but then the doors close and I’m stuck in my head, just daydreaming about the Hillside Support Facility, I’ve blown my chance, the conductor gets on the loudspeaker, “Next stop, New Hyde Park.”
And I mentioned before how rarely I take the LIRR, so it’s not like I can really build up some momentum with these daydreams. I figured, all right, I’ve just got to do this. I’ve got to go home, I’ve got to make a plan, and I have to make this happen. So I went back to Queens and I found this store by my place that sells all of those worker looking clothes, all of that stuff I was talking about earlier, the orange vests, the safety goggles, I was ready.
I got on the train and sat down, and the conductor started working his way through the car right away. “Tickets, all tickets please.” I figured, OK, I’ve got to make this look convincing, so I’m not going to give him a ticket. I’ll just act the part, like I’m working at the Support Facility, like I’m not going to pay a ticket to get to work. Right? Those guys have to be able to at least use the train for free. Right?
“I’m uh, I’m working at the Support Facility.”
“OK, I need to see your tag then.”
“I … I …”
“Your ID? What subsection are working at? What are you electrical? Maintenance?”
“It’s just that, I just … the Support Facility …”
“Wait here a minute.”
Shit. I really didn’t plan this out too well. I should have made it seem like I had an interview or something, like I was going there for a meeting. And I should have been way more casual. But then what about all of this working gear? I could have said yes to whatever he said, electrical. The conductor came back with another guy wearing an orange vest and a hard hat.
“Hey, where’d you say you work at?”
“At the Support Facility,” I tried to act even more casual, like I was talking about before, “I’m maintenance. Electrical maintenance. Support.”
“All right, well, I’m shift leader today. Stay close. What are you a transfer? Let me see your tag.”
I froze. Just then the doors opened up. We were here, Hillside Support Facility. I made a break for it.
It was just like any other stop, there were stairs leading up from the platform. I raced up, down some hallway. There was a soda machine, but nothing special, just Coke, Diet Coke, Dasani. I checked real quick to see if the sodas were complimentary for employees. Nope, a dollar fifty, just like in the civilian world.
After the hallway there was a door, outside an employee parking lot. I ran past all the cars, there was a security guy at a gate letting vehicles in. I sprinted past him too, “Hey! You!” and then I was outside. I had no idea where I was, Hillside, I guess, and I had no idea like how to get home, how to get to a civilian train station, which direction I might start walking to get to my parents’ house. What a bust.