The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Confessions from the Grinnell train jumper

I either had God blessing me, my Irish roots kicking in, or both, but either way I’m lucky to be here. Everyday as I sit currently unable to walk on my right leg and slowly learn how to get around campus in my state, I am still dealing with the consequences.

There are those certain moments in life, that although it may sound cliché are life changing, and ones where your life takes a dramatic new direction. This experience that took place on March 18 at about 6 p.m. was truly one of those moments for me.

I realize now how colossally idiotic my decision was, and how indestructible a force the train is that runs through Grinnell.

Kane and I had been working on our Titular Head film for weeks, and the part with Danger Train—the name of our new movie—wasn’t even going to be in it. Originally, we were making a time-travel movie.

Yet, on that Thursday afternoon, we both were attempting to include an extra scene, and I myself know that I didn’t listen to my conscience, that was grasping for air against the euphoria of the moment.

I rode that ladder feeling like my boyhood hero Tom Sawyer. Then as I prepared to descend, my right shoe wobbled and before I could think, Kane screamed “NO!”

Grasping for air in that grass I finally felt an unbelievable sense of respect for the Midwest and all of its glorious trains. I realized then there is no Brooklyn comparison, and this is truly a beast worth being wary of.

With the second chance that I have been given I feel it is my obligation to give back to the rest of society. At the immediate time, my society or community is Grinnell College, and therefore I feel like God wanted me to live so that I could impact the College in a dramatic way.

I know that if I had died that day the College would have been impacted, but I don’t know if the feeling would have lasted. Now that I am alive I can for the rest of my career at Grinnell, educate people, as a living example, for why jumping on the train is a horrible, dangerous and life-risking idea.

I feel like it is only human for us to make mistakes in life, and that has been proven throughout the history of mankind. Although what is most important is not that you made the mistake, but that you change your actions due to their consequences and you truly learn that this is a mistake that you should never repeat again.

I realize that what happened to me that day, didn’t only impact me, but impacted the entire Grinnell community, as well as my family and friends back home. I want to take the chance to apologize to everyone from President Osgood, to Security Guard Russ, to my Cross Country Coach and everyone in the Grinnell Community and thank you all, for helping me march onward and continue my life here.

From this experience, I feel like I have gained a new set of grandparents, and will forever have so much love for Nancy and Al Maly, who took me under their arms, and gave me a place to stay after leaving the hospital.

Finally, I would like to thank all those doctors, nurses, ambulance personnel and police that acted swiftly and confidently in Grinnell and then at the hospital in Iowa City.

Since I returned to campus I have not watched the train pass through, but I have visited the hospital, last Thursday, for another surgery.

The last surgery went well, although it ended up being seven as opposed to three hours, and I experienced horrible nausea, and piercing pains all along my arms, because of how my arms had been tied down.

I now have 16 pin sites, where metal connects through leg to bone, two haloes around my lower shin, a metal ring around my foot similar to Shaq’s shoe-size and a permanent metal plate in my fibula.

My doctor told me on Saturday that he believes we have a miracle on our hands, the like he is not too familiar with. After all, the original x-rays looked like a definite amputation, and the ones after the third surgery look much improved.

My best friend, Omar, who has always known me, asked me if I thought this would change how I have always been. I was a risk taker, one ready for adventure, not satisfied with staying put.

Some good that has come from these characteristics, namely that I had the audacity to come to Grinnell College, when many of my friends stayed near home and were amazed that I’d go to a school in Iowa. In light of this recent incident this trait has also brought me some very poor results.

So I answered, “You know, now that I’m 18 and in my first year of college, I feel that it is about time that I tone down my Tarzan act, and be much more cautious, but at the same time I will not try to force myself from enjoying life, but find the perfect balance.”

Through Kane and my video, my radio show, my writing here and the conversations I have, I want everyone to know how much I respect the Grinnell train, as should all of you.

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