HowTo:Drive a train

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A successful train drive should look rather dissimilar to this.

The setting is your typical Monday morning commute, with taxi drivers cluttering the road to the train station while on the wrong side of the road mowing over pedestrians. In the train station, despite having neither a ticket nor money, a bunch of snot-nosed youths are claiming their undeniable right to get on a train. When you finally board the train, you notice that those god damn Polish people are taking up all the seats again while on their way to immigration court for complimentary free mansions.

You settle down as you start to approach your station, before hearing the driver come over the intercom. He starts off rather normally as he salutes the passengers, sounding as usual as if he'd rather be anywhere else in the world than at his job. However, you then hear the sound of broken glass, and, amid many questioning Polish looks, run in to the engine room to find the forlorn driver suffering from Sudden Death Syndrome. You don't have time for this: You need to return home to your loving internet wife! You are going to have to learn how to drive a train, fast!

Step 1: Study the controls

After scavenging like a freaking rat for personal possessions on the driver's body, you will need to find out what on earth all of these levers, pulleys, switches and buttons do. Try to ignore the urge to just randomly smash everything, especially that big red button, as you don't know what could happen – the results could be anything from moving one micrometer forward to creating a paradoxical time duplicate of yourself that would like nothing better than to put you in a stew...and you don't like being put into stews: Or, should I say, you shouldn't.

At this point, you'll have looked at the buttons for a while, and realize that, while the buttons do have labels on them, you would need to be a rocket scientist to understand the jargon. I mean, "Deceleration Port D Hydraulic Gyro"? As you don't have a thesaurus handy, you start looking for – and conveniently find – the instruction manual. Upon leering at it, however, you discover it is 568 pages long and written in thirteen different languages, one of which is Ancient Sumerian. Since you have never read five hundred and sixty eight non-tabloid pages in your life, you decide it will be quicker and easier to be hands-on and try some trial and error...unless that doesn't work, in which case you'll have to try something else, 'cause I'm sure as hell not gonna give you any clues.

Step 2: Realise you still don't know anything

Trains come in many different shapes and flavours.

Did you know that the reaction rate of the train you are currently a passenger on is equal to its velocity in milliseconds times the square of its temperature in Kelvin? Did you know that the chances of the train stopping are affected by such variables as the weight of each individual carriage, the weight of individual passenger and the weight of the grenades those Poles are planning to use to blow you into smithereens? Did you know that this train weighs, like, a bazillion tons, and could take you and your whole family on in a fight?

Of course you didn't. However, now that you know, you put two and three together and try to make six by thinking that they could be instrumental pieces of knowledge in your escape attempt. How do you know that this article is not trying to mislead you into a gory, bludgeoning death? Your inability to comprehend this situation leads you into one of your soon-to-be-trademarked panic attacks. Why are you even driving a train? You can barely organise your sock drawer, let alone drive a 60 megaton behemoth ten miles (or hectares, if you're English).

Step 3: Learn the route

You then notice that you have not the tiniest little clue where your station actually is. You go about searching for a map, looking in each and every little compartment, including those on the deceased driver, to find a map. Finally, after much painful searching, you find a cloth with directions on it; it looks like one route goes to Liverpool, one to Alabama and one to Ouagadougu.

You spend the next ten minutes trying to find out where you are going, and after finding the station, you spend another ten minutes trying to steer the train. It's shocking that only now do you remember that the train is on tracks, and doesn't need steering.

Step 4: Push buttons

Backing up over human beings is not specifically one of the Ten Commandments, but if there was a God it would be.

This realisation puts you into a real sense of panic-ridden hysteria, which takes you ten minutes to get over. By the time you achieve this, you realise you have already passed the penultimate station. You, however, fail to realise that the last but one station, is, possibly, very close to the last station (that you are going to), so you decide to sit down and relax for five minutes, while finding a nice magazine to take your mind off of the impending crisis.

After five minutes of relaxation, a sudden jolt awakens you. After a while of being blinded by lights and alarms, you somehow realise that one of the train's metal wheels has, frankly, blown the hell up. Looking back at the map, you finally find out that you are approaching your destination, and freak out as you find you have no dam idea what you are supposed to be doing. You go over to the console, and start to plan your next move. Should you press the big red button, in the hope it will slow you down somewhat? Should you move that one lever up in case it stops the train, or will it rocket you up to five million miles per hour? Should you do nothing, and hope for a miracle to occur? Or will doing nothing prove you were that spineless coward that your friends always told you you were?

This isn't right! You'd always thought driving a train was as easy as pie: that the train would just move forward and stop by itself - like a primitive robot, one might say. For this heinous crime, I, this very article, am ASHAMED of you. You should scold yourself for being so idiotically stupid as to think that driving a megaton behemoth would be that easy! Oh well: you somehow eventually regain some sense of what's going on without my shouting at you.

You spend five seconds pondering all this information, completely ignoring the fact that your brain can't process more than one factoid a minute. Then, with the practiced intensity of the madman you are, you start hammering every single button in sight. You continue in this vein for almost a full minute before realizing that nothing is happening. Further inspection reveals that the driver turned off the console before he died. You feel stupid for a second, then, in a rare good move, you turn it on, literally milliseconds before you realize that your goddamn stop is fast approaching.

Step 5: Stop the train; preferably at the station

Now look what you did. You're a big fat idiot.

Upon this sight, yet again, you panic: Goodness knows how you haven't had a fit yet. By this time you've grown to the idea that the train could run itself, not needing any user interface, and thus you hope for a miracle that is, of course, not forthcoming. Then you see the station, and straight ahead, on the platform your train is heading directly for, is another train. Horrible visions of death, destruction, prosecution and prostitution cross your mind, crashing into each other in a sweaty, bloody mess.

You play Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo with each lever; finally selecting the handle on the far left, and jam it as far up as possible. There is a sudden screech, and everybody in the train's immediate vicinity's defence goes down greatly. The train slows noticeably, and you pray to whatever weak and false human gods you pray to that it'll be enough. You ignore this, somehow, and keep the lever jammed until it snaps off in your sweaty hands.

Step 6: Exit the train safely

Now extremely worried, your mind goes into complete survival mode. You decide to screw it all and jump out an open window. You receive minor cuts and bruises, but you pretend not to notice them as you run off into the distance, the people of...wherever-the-hell-you-are...never to see you again.

You can now say that you have driven a train and actually survived. Sure, hundreds of poor, mindless lambs died because of your inept driving... and you damaged a world-renowned station... but you're alive, and to you, that's all that matters, right? Yeah it does, you self-centered prick.

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