Friday, June 11, 2010

Pissing on the Third Rail

According to New York City subway lore, the third rail contains the electricity charge that power the cars. And, after eight or so months of living here, I've had friends and acquittances share stories - always third- and fourth-hand, of course - of drunk bums pissing into the tunnel, while waiting for the subway. The bums' urine streams, these stories go, eventually strike the aforementioned third rail, and the world's most painful electric shock follows.
Now, I have no idea if the urban legend of death through penis electrocution is scientifically possible or not, but I've never felt inclined to prove or disprove it definitively. (One of the side benefits of going to war - you lose that young man's compulsion for trying stupid stuff just for the hell of it). But today around noon, while waiting for the A Train, I noticed a middle-aged derelict pissing into the tunnel and onto the rails.

I wasn't the only one. As I walked over to the guy, an older woman started imploring him to stop from across the way. I managed to spit out a "dude, please stop doing that." Two young "hoods," for the lack of a more descriptive term, came up from the man's other side and told him to stop. "Why?" asked the bum. "Because your dick will get blasted, bro," responded one of the young men.

This proved logical enough advice for the urinator, who stopped, mid-stream, and then finished the job in the corner by a trash can. The old lady, two hoods, and I shared a smile though, and continued about our days. In an odd sort of way, I think we all felt like we had just participated in a form of humanitarian aid. Whether possible or not, the very thought of dying like that sends shivers down the spine, and this guy certainly did not deserve such a fate.

And people say New Yorkers are selfish.

4 comments:

  1. I can tell you that peeing on an electric fence will get you shocked big time.

    So I am not sure if you can get electrocuted that way, but I am quite sure you can hurt really bad. Toronto Wedding DJ Services

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  2. Calling out to someone who is peeing in public just doesn't sound like good advice. But hey, maybe you saved his life. I am very impressed with Ape Man who can pee on an electric fence.

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  3. Mythbusters on Discovery Channel put this one to the test in their third episode and was unable to complete the circuit. I think they discovered that at the standard distance between a bum and the third rail the stream breaks up and is no longer consistent enough to conduct electricity.

    If you are standing directly over the rail, however, the stream will conduct electricity and "your dick will get blasted" along with the rest of you I would assume.

    Still, probably best just to play this one safe.

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  4. Today at lunch I told my husband that pissing on the third rail could get you electrocuted. He said,"That gives new meaning to the phrase pissed off."

    ReplyDelete