Trainspotter 0 Posted May 31, 2007 Share #1 Posted May 31, 2007 New York Underground Take This Job and Love It By ALEX MINDLIN Published: May 27, 2007 EVERY few months on Rider Diaries, an online forum for New York transit buffs, someone posts a message with a subject line like “I’VE BEEN CALLED!!!!” That particular exclamation appeared in October 2005; its writer, a skinny 20-year-old named Jason Brown, crowed that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had “finally reached my number.” Congratulations poured in. “This is the biggest news of today!” one enthusiast wrote. Another added, “I wish I was in your seat.” Mr. Brown had just gotten the subway fan’s equivalent of a Broadway callback. A year and a half earlier, he had taken the examination to be a conductor, and now he was being called in for a medical exam and an interview. Had Mr. Brown scored lower, he might have waited even longer. The current list of conductor candidates, which is based on the 2004 exam, had 21,749 names on it in 2005. If previous lists are any guide, only about a third of those names will have been called by the time the list expires in 2009. This wait is frustrating enough for ordinary applicants. But it is agonizing for subway buffs, the people who linger in stations waiting for a rare new-model test car to pass, stay up for 24 hours trying to travel every inch of the city’s tracks, or speculate online about how conductors relieve themselves in an emergency. Some passengers may not want a starry-eyed hobbyist at the wheel of their train, but for a transit buff the chance to drive a subway car is a dream come true, a dizzying intersection of the workaday world and the realm of fantasy. “When I was a kid, I’d always had a crazy little dream to drive a subway train,” said Vincent Sbano, 48, a retired tax lawyer from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, who took the exam in 2003 and started as a trainee train operator on April 30. To pass the time, buffs give the transit authority’s hiring process the same obsessive analysis they bring to bear on a new train model or an unfamiliar track signal. “This arcane, Talmudic discussion” is how Mr. Sbano described the online chatter. In one installment, a computer network administrator wanted to know what his chances were of ultimately landing a job. “My list number is 2678 with a score of 94,” he wrote on Rider Diaries. “Let’s face it, I’ll probably never be called.” There followed an exhaustive discussion of the man’s odds, with much back-and-forth about the size of the candidate pool, the pace of hiring and the number of applications from veterans and transit workers, groups that both receive priority. Mr. Sbano does not consider himself a through-and-through subway buff, but he confirmed a piece of advice widely dispensed to job candidates on Rider Diaries: When applying for a job with the M.T.A., keep your subway enthusiasms to yourself. The transportation authority denies that it discriminates against train fans, but on Rider Diaries the idea is alive and well. As a fellow transit fan wrote to Mr. Brown: “Don’t even hint you are a buff.” Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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