Do As We Say, Not As We Do.

Let’s start with the fact that railroad tracks are private property. That’s why people walking on the tracks—ordinary folks, not railroad employees—are invariably referred to as “trespassers” by railroad personnel. Technically, that’s what they are, and by using the term, the railroads emphasize the point that the tracks are private property and “civilians” should stay the hell off!
But none of us thinks much about walking on or across tracks, do we? Furthermore, I can’t state this as fact, but I’ll bet hard-core rail fans are among the worst offenders. After all, they KNOW all about trains, so they won’t do anything stupid.
This is the cover of the August issue of TRAINS magazine, the bible for rail fans. The photo is of a CSX locomotive hauling the world famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus train across a trestle in West Virginia.
It’s hard to see, but look to the right side of the front of the locomotive. Three men—apparently rail fans—no doubt there to get a last close-up look at this famous train and to take some photos. Sorry, but that’s just dumb . . . and I’m really surprised the magazine chose to run the photo.
Next—and I suppose this will forever mark me as a language pedant—I came across a news story yesterday about a “fatal collision” in Martinez, California, the other day, when an Amtrak train struck a pedestrian. I have no doubt it occurred, but I take exception to the use of the word “collision”. Please! Call it an accident or an incident or an occurrence or possibly even an event. But it was not a collision!