Subway Love

ICC CAR 27 checked the platform. Checked the door opening for arms and legs. Checked the interiorfor hazardous conditions. Finding none it chimed, closed the doors, and accelerated to 12th street station. At 12th Street, it did the same thing. 27 knew it was on a ghost run at 3 am, but it followed all the rules. It was usually empty at this hour, but a passenger might get on.

The ICC class subway cars were ‘Self Driving, Independently Computer Controlled.’ There had been self-driving cars for years. Why not subway cars? The programing was simpler; Just go safely forward. It eliminated major problems, like the motorman. No payroll, no pensions, no overtime, no health care, no strikes, no falling asleep, at the throttle. What more could you ask? The Motorman’s Union didn’t like it, of course, but they were bought off. The cleaning crew was still needed, and Maintenance, but the pay was less.

The car bodies were made in Poland. The Interiors were made in Canada. The motors, and electronics were made in Japan. The computers were made in Korea. The computer Programming was done in India. It was all assembled in Omaha, so they could say that it was made in the United States. Great PR. The ICC class cars, had replaced the human controlled cars, in every major city in the world. Except Russia, where they added two guards and a dog, to control drunken riders. China had so much manpower, it was a “make work” project.

The cars could talk to each other, in vernacular English. This served two purposes. First, it was easier to program the standard car talk. IE:

“ICC 42, to CC17, I am two stops behind you. Will slow down for a safety gap”

“ICC 59, to Control. End of scheduled run. Returning to barn, till 5 am, tomorrow.”

“Control” was a large computer room, filled with an electronic map of the system. It showed the cars location, speed, number of passengers, in the car, and on the platforms. The live monitors in Control, (required by law) had almost nothing to do except watch the board and listen to the cars talking to each other. If day shift was dull, Swing and Graveyard, were mind numbing. There were only two people required– mainly, to keep each other awake.

No one wanted to be on the night shifts. Until someone figured out a scheme to get their girlfriend, or boyfriend, as their companion. Controllers usually had a favorite person, and friendship might blossom into passion, given the right setting. The right setting was 8 hours alone together, with a covering over the tv monitor. Now, night shifts were coveted as play time.

And play they did. One of the women was a good programmer, and thought it would be great fun to sex up the subway cars.

She added names: “Sally-ICC30 to Bill-ICC 24, Behind schedule, can you slow down one minute, to even the spacing?”

Then she tried adding some emotions. ““Trudy-ICC44, from Marty-ICC 12, I can hardly wait to see you in the barn tonight, and connect up for a double train.”

“Wendy-ICC33, to Tom- ICC 39, “Oh, God, Tom, you don’t know how much I love you. Maybe we can find a way to meet at the end of the line, and connect for the rest of the night.”

The night shifts were laughing their heads off. The day shift caught on, but played innocent. The Supervisors couldn’t figure what the hell, was going on. Everyone insisted that it was in the basic programming, and there was nothing, anyone could do. The cars were in love.

(Written January 16, 2015)

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