Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Other Side taken hostage by Brunswick Taxi & Amtrak personnel; escapes with help of MLF construction team (Wed AM revision)

- Brunswick PD called to apprehend; Side narrowly escapes arrest

- Legal options under consideration; wise counsel being sought

Today was “interesting.”  In the fullest sense of that word, which can express a very wide range of meanings.  “Hmmm…that dip has a really interesting combination of flavors.”  Or, “that’s the most interesting preparation of squirrel I’ve ever tasted.”

We recall the “breathtaking” episode of Seinfeld; if that’s not in your personal TV archive, describing it here won’t help.


Our story is simple.  We were coming across town roughly at mid-day, and decided to head to an office on Parker’s Way, just off Church Road, adjacent to the railroad tracks.  As Chance would have it, a Downeaster train set was parked on the tracks just east of the Church Road crossing, where it normally spends about five hours a day between ‘revenue runs.’

As we drove by the train, it appeared to be running at a fairly high idle rate.  We understood this situation had been mitigated by the installation of an Auxiliary Power connection that would allow the train to shut down in the warmer months.  Since the idle didn’t seem any different from what we were used to in the past, we decided to see if the train was connected to the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU.)

We couldn’t see through the trees and bushes on Parker Way, so we headed back out to Church Road to see what we could see.  The dirt/gravel access road that runs adjacent to the north side of the tracks beckoned to us.  Seeing no signage telling us to stay out, we turned on to it, headed east from Church Road.    

Within a hundred yards or so, we encountered a Brunswick Taxi van, license plate “JT-1”, that we recognized from previous visits to the area.  The van was apparently waiting to collect an Amtrak crew from the incoming train that they would transport to Portland.  As best we know, Brunswick Taxi, owned by the King family (the long time town council chair), and beneficiary of a quarter million dollar grant from local taxpayers, has a contract to make this round trip twice a day 365 days of the year.


The van was positioned in such a way as to make it difficult to get by to move further along so the connections to the Amtrak locomotive could be observed.  Still, we made it by the van, and proceeded east, until we saw that the engine was indeed connected to the APU.  This made us wonder why the unit was still operating at a high idle, but what do we know?  We’re not the government; we’re just a private citizen.  Sometime we just don’t recognize the help we’re being given by our benefactors.

Having seen the connection, we decided to turn around and leave via Church Road.  But in the brief time we had been further east, the Brunswick Taxi van had moved adjacent to one of the recently installed power poles, positioning itself such that we could not get by, out to Church Road, and on our way.

It was clear they were trying to block our egress from the site.  To make the blockage look unintentional, one of the Amtrak crew members stood outside the van, engaged in an animated cell phone conversation.  After a few minutes of this, we began to surmise what was going on.  Still, tolerant as we are. we waited a few more minutes for the urgent cell phone business to complete.

Which didn’t happen.  But in a few minutes, the rear hatch of the Brunswick Taxi van opened, and we noticed the flash of a cell phone camera taking photos of us in our vehicle.  This confirmed that we were in some sort of standoff.  We exited our trapped vehicle and approached the van, and the Amtrak crew member (we assumed) approached us.  We asked what the problem was, and if he could have the van move a car length or two so we could get out.  He explained that they needed “five minutes” to pick up another crew member.

Fine, we thought.  Then he hopped aboard the Cabbage Car and disappeared.  We pondered our options, and decided to approach the van to ask the driver to move ahead so that we could get by.  The driver, a young lady of 35 or so, said she could not move the van, because “I’m supposed to be RIGHT HERE.”  We said ‘you mean you can’t be 20 ft further this way or that way,’ and she said no. 

Long story short, she had decided to, or been directed to block our exit and be obstinate about it.  We asked her name, and she said she didn’t have to answer.  We asked what required her to be in that exact location, and she said they had a contract.  We asked with whom, like Amtrak, and she declined to answer that as well.  In other words, she had to be right there “because.”

It was now abundantly clear they had orders, via cell phone conversation, to block us from leaving the property, no matter how much it delayed the crew’s return to Portland.  We have little doubt that Brunswick’s most notable FU alumnus was involved in this decision.

In so many words, Side had been taken hostage and held against our will by the Brunswick Taxi driver and her accomplices from the Amtrak crew.

We returned to our vehicle, and resolved never again to head out on the town without our digital camera and archaic flip phone.  As we pondered our options, a huge shiny black pickup truck approached from behind us.  The driver got out of  the truck, came up to us, and asked what was going on.  We gave him the facts we just related.

Turns out he was wearing a polo shirt with a Consigli logo on it, and he explained that he was involved in constructing the MLF on the site.  He also stated that what the Brunswick Taxi unit was doing was unsat, and that he would see that it was taken care of.  And then he advised that we could do a 180, and head in the  other direction to leave the site, which we did, coming out on Turner Street.

This gentleman put himself on the line, at least figuratively speaking, to free us from our forced confinement.  We’re grateful to him for that.  Then, things got even more interesting.  Or if you have a warped sense of humor (and Brunswick civic reality) like ours, more humorous.


Amused by the episode, and wondering what would happen from all the phone calls that were made by Amtrak and Brunswick Taxi personnel, we headed back to Side’s editorial offices.   We have a local craftsman doing some work on our facility, and chatted with him about what had just happened.  As we did, a Brunswick PD vehicle approached.

We raised our hands in surrender, yelling ‘don’t shoot, we did it.’  The officer got out of his car, and gave us the news we had already guessed he would.  A report had been filed on us, and the BPD was obligated to conduct a follow-up investigation.  We’re grateful they didn’t employ the full assault vehicle, since you never know what you might encounter out here in the boonies.   The kids across the street would have loved it, though.

          BPD SRT Truck2

We had a lengthy conversation about what had transpired, and about the vagaries of  railroad ownership, management, and operation, and what the BPD was obligated to do about it all.  He acknowledged there were no signs on the property we had visited, warning journalists like us from sniffing out a good story, but indicated he expected such signs, fences, etc, would soon be appearing on the site.

We asked if he knew who we were, and he said ‘no, but we have someone at the station who can look into if for you if you can’t figure it out.’  All they’d need, he said is fingerprints and a full frontal photo, but only if we were willing.  And then they could assign a new member of the force to sniff out our real identity.  As soon as he’s sufficiently “trained.”


We thought it over for a few moments, and decided we’d just as soon not have to face the truth of who we are.  With that, the Officer thanked us for our cooperation, and headed out to find the next least wanted scofflaw in Cape Brunswick.


Sleep well, dear friends; justice has been done.  Now, if they could just find the Brunswick Taxi driver who was recently seen trying to forge a new approach road to the trackside area, things could get even better.

As we’ve said before, sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.

And other times, you can try to prove you’re the King of the Road.  Using taxpayer funded vehicles if you have to.

Anybody have a clue how the FU football team is doing this season?  We think we might have seen their traditional hand salute coming from the van as we ended our visit with them.


One last mystery – we wonder how much overtime the Amtrak crew got for the ‘extenuating workplace circumstances’ we forced upon them.  A phone call of thanks would be nice, but probably not in the offing.  Don’t they know ‘who we are?’

They could always call the BPD to find out.  They have that number, we’re sure.  It’s Nine-FU salute-FU salute.

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