While many conductors on the commuter rail work hard and do a good job, the ones who don't stand out in my mind.
There was the one we knew as William - a big guy who looked like an ex-football player going to seed. He was in a constant rage. More than once I saw him almost get into fistfights with passengers. He's the only conductor about whom I've seen graffiti ( it said "CONDUCTOR BILL IS A C---SUCKER").
He was on the Franklin #715 (departing from South Station at 4:10 PM) for years. His rages and bizarre behavior were a constant topic of conversation among passengers; most of us were a little scared of him. One thing that we noticed was that shortly after Ruggles, he'd disappear and not be seen for the rest of the trip. One guy claimed that he went up to the front car after making a single ticket pass, and spent his time kissing up to the head conductor there - but I have no idea if that's true.
What I do know is that I once saw an elderly woman fall off the train because William, as usual, wasn't there to do his job. She was moving slowly, second in a line of three women getting off the train. The first one made it off. The train started moving just before the second one got off, and she fell and pitched off the train straight into the crowd below. Apparently no one on the train saw, because it just kept going. The third woman, a younger one, was forced to wait and get off at the next stop. She was not pleased.
Now, I may be mistaken, but it's my understanding that it's the duty of a conductor to help passengers off the train (if they need help), and to watch and make sure that it's safe for the train to begin moving. William neglected that responsibility over and over.
Naturally I wrote to the MBTA. And I got the usual apology and kiss-off response. From discussions with other passengers I know that many of them complained specifically about William the conductor as well, but none of them got any satisfaction either.
Eventually the MBCR took over. And when I made a complaint about the Franklin #715 (believe it or not, I don't make that many of them) and mentioned William, I was told that all complaints had been lost in the transition to the MBCR - there was no longer any record of a complaint on file. From anyone.
The stories I could tell about William! Like the time that the train was on the wrong side and - but I'll save that for another post. No point in overloading this one.
I don't know what happened, but eventually William was no longer on the #715. I've seen him on other lines occasionally, and once a number of us were disturbed to see him back on the #715, but that was apparently a one-time event.
There's also a story I want to tell about the time that the conductors left all of the stairways unopened, which almost left two particularly vulnerable passengers stuck. I'll write about it next time.
In the meantime, I don't want to be the only one posting here. So if you're a commuter rail passenger and have some stories to tell, let me know by commenting in the Welcome post and I'll gladly give you authoring privileges.