|Look for anger, not sadness. |
We had another train suicide recently in DeKalb, Illinois. A 21 year old man stepped in front of a Union Pacific just before sunrise on Good Friday.
I'd heard quite a bit about this fellow in the days before it happened. My son worked with him, and I know most of his co-workers, so I heard quite a bit. How hostile the guy was. How he went to party, got drunk, and told everybody he wanted to walk into work with a shotgun and kill all the employees and customers and himself. How he told the boss that if he didn't get more hours he'd have to quit, and she took that as his resignation, and he left work and killed himself later that night.
Train suicides are common in this town, though it's been almost two years since our last, and I wrote about it then too. Back then we were the train suicide capital of the world, it seemed. Our tracks were strewn with the body parts of jilted brides and failed students and drunks who couldn't sober up. Then it stopped. Now it's started again, and all night long the trains crawl through town blasting their horns like Gabriel calling souls. And so the whole town thinks of this young man often.
But we don't talk about it and we don't remember the guy's name. When he was alive, we didn't like him. He was a cocky little prick, worked in a convenience store, surly, abusive, mean. Just another pissed off asshole. So we don't miss him much, we don't need his kind. Life's hard enough without complainers. Maybe that's what trains are for. And convenience stores, maybe they're like a lint filter that catches these pricks and holds them until their train comes.
Harsh? Maybe. But these are the judgments of the infallible. His customers didn't like him and they're never wrong. Nobody liked him, and they piled on. It's fun. As long as you're playing with the lives of people who don't matter, you can get away with anything. I know this because I had this guy's job once, tapped the same register and saw the same faces, and they didn't like me either.
My cop friends tell me that when a train hits a person at 80 mph you can hear the pop over the engine. The head goes straight up, the limbs go left and right, the torso is dragged. Trains hit with such tremendous force that even your name is shattered, your entire life story is compacted into a single sentence. It begins at the end forever.
Spotting Train Takers. No one commits suicide without the encouragement of depression. It's always there before the terminal event. Depression is actually more powerful than a train. It clings to the corpse, gets all over the emergency crew, the cops, the engineer especially, and when the horns moan at night it gets all over us too. Depression is a serious, common, highly infectious terminal illness. Suicide is a violent crime, an act of passion, anger, madness maybe, but maybe not, because despair is something different from mere crazy, and far more real.
We think know how to spot a taker, but we don't. The drug companies have trained us poorly, but very thoroughly, so that we now think of depression as a sad but cuddly malingering bad mood for which there's no excuse any longer thanks to pharmadope. That's not depression; it's something else entirely. It's a distraction while the real killer gets away.
Forget sadness. It's too hard to see, too easy to hide. The killer is angry, and anger's hard to hide. Anger wants out.
Think about it. Killers don't mope. They explode into action. They don't 'contemplate.' That's for Attempters, a separate category. Trainsteppers don't leave notes let alone doubts.
So what am I saying? Am I saying we could have saved this kid if we'd been a little nicer?
Yes I am. That's my message. We could have saved this kid if we'd been nicer. If we'd seen through him. But we couldn't. Because nobody helps the pissed. We're not supposed to. We are pissed by the pissed, and we piss on them at every chance, and when they're dead, we piss on their graves. Pissed off people just piss us off. And that's why they almost never get help. Even their doctors hate them.
Should we sneak up behind these people with nets? Shoot them with tranquilizer guns? Lock them up?
It would mean civil war.
The problem isn't just here in my hometown. It's all around the world. What society anywhere in the world today can't be described as "angry?" Maybe it's a pandemic. All we know is the pills aren't working. And probably never did. The moment we started slinging pills we stopped talking. What's been lost is talk. You can't take a pill as a replacement for love, compassion and human contact But we think we can. And our thinking is what give our pills their power.