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I often dream of trains.

July 26th, 2004 at 9:00 am by Preston Taylor Holmes

Here’s today’s Six Meat Buffet safety lesson. The first part is pretty simple, but pay close attention anyway.

Trains are big. They run on devices called train tracks. If you are on or close to train tracks when a train is passing, you may encounter substantial discomfort. If you are in an automobile, you will still suffer substantial discomfort, as a train is, in most cases, larger than an automobile.

Leland Laird, of Appleton, Wisconsin, recently provided us with an object lesson in how not to follow this safety lesson.

Part of Leland’s daily routine (since his first failure to follow train safety rules in 1989 resulted in his paralysis) has been stopping by the train tracks in his wheelchair to “flip off” passing trains.

Laird told officers he has used a wheelchair since 1989 when a car he was driving was struck by a train near Fremont.

But that’s not the reason he periodically “flips off” the trains, Lt. Pat Matuszewski said.

He told police he puts himself where train crews can see him – engineers and conductors consider him a regular – and makes obscene gestures because he is frustrated by their loud horns.

“He lives right near the intersection. That’s his way of addressing the loud horns blowing,” Matuszewski said.

Leland apparently enjoyed his first encounter with a train so much that he moved close to the train tracks. I suppose he didn’t consider the irritation that the train whistles might cause him.

“Lucky Leland,” as he is now known around Appleton, came away from his tangle with the train with only bruises and a traffic ticket (for violating traffic signals – I suppose his wheelchair qualified as some type of vehicle).

Authorities have encouraged Lucky to “find less dangerous ways to express himself.”


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