ABC News anchor Stephen Tschida of D.C. affiliate WJLA had what
appears to have been a slow-boil breakdown late Thursday night when his
train to Philadelphia was delayed by ten hours and went without power,
an experience he chronicled
extensively on Twitter.
Tschida's tweets began as reporting, if a bit casually, the train's mid-trip halt and the reactions of his fellow passengers. But Tschida seems to have succumbed to stress and confusion as the ordeal progressed, and as the train grew colder.
By 4:30 a.m. on Friday, his reportorial facade, and his emotional state, had disintegrated into anguish and God-invoking prayer. The entire stream must be read to be believed. But here are the excerpts of this incident, which has been confirmed by the same ABC affiliate for which Tschida works.
Things began inauspiciously:
En route phili. Train broke down. Terrrible, cold, no info. Better get what can from cafe. Looks like long night ahead.
Really someone here should tell us something. Train gettting colder and colder. Hearing now about a possible rescue train. OMH?
Tschida was calm at first, reporting on the situation and attempting humor:
OK, getting wierd on here. People starting to talk loud. Demanding another train. But don't think another train will help.
If it gets much colder I am going to have to cuddle with the senior citizen next to me. Hey it's called SURVIVAL!
At some point, with the heat and lights off, it became clear this was no routine delay:
Help is on the way. Whatever that means. And they have "emergency food". Whatever that is. How long r we going 2 b on here?
Oh god we r going to back up. Then head all the way back to Balimore. Amtrak says we have heat. Let me tell u my fee r numb!
And then Tschida began to lose it.
Train stopped again. So cold can't stop trembling. Going 2 try meditation. Think good thoughts. It will be over soon. Right?
Train stalled again. Pitch black all around, cold air blowing on me. It's like twilight zone. Or I've died and gone 2 hell.
Afraid they're going to back us off a bridge into cold black water. Maybe I'm paranoid, but afraid this isn't going to end well.
To be fair to Tschida, his fellow passengers don't seem to have handled the stress any better:
Why will no one tell us anything? People are cold, hungry, and frightened. I hear yelling in other cars.
People are storming the conductor. He is letting them off in Perryville. He says u get off at your own risk.
1 man grabbed intercom demanded answers. Another started screaming we have 2 get home. Now total silence.
Sitting here in still darkness, strange. Spanish lady keeps muttering "please please". Think she wants train to move, just move.
Along the way, there were some questionable metaphors and literary references:
Oh god, lights went out. Train totally dead. No one is telling us anything! Sitting in dark shivering. "Sartre"
Oh god all lights went out again. Train dead, it's like a coffin in here. But less anger and yelling. Exhaustion setting in.
And some moments of triumph:
Train MOVING! Spanish lady looked at me with sad eyes said "I want to go to New York". I said you are YOU ARE!
But, after 2 a.m. or so, Tschida mostly tweeted about God and his desire maybe to do some crying:
God I think I'm close to crying again. I NEVER cry. Just want out. This might be a life changer.
Oh god, a half hour out of phili and it stopped again. Please please! Ah it's moving, slowly but moving.
Oh god, close close close! Almost off this god forsaken train!
Tschida's performance ended moments after his train arrived, around 4:35 a.m., when he tweeted "Ten hours of hell is over. Now warmth and sleep, goodnight."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.