Darius McCollum
Humans and other animals

The man who loves the New York subway too much

Darius McCollum (48) loves New York City’s transit system.

“I just love everything about it. I love the atmosphere, I love the lights, I love the signals. I love the fact that it’s moving all the time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There’s nothing negative I can say about the transit system.”

Darius McCollum has been arrested 29 times over the past 30 years for a series of transit-related crimes ranging from impersonating subway workers to stealing buses.

Mr. McCollum traces his fascination with trains to when he was stabbed at school at the age of 12. Afraid to return to class, he rode the subways all day and befriended a motorman. He ran errands, played cards and chess, and cleaned the dispatcher’s office and the token booths. Eventually, the motormen allowed him to conduct “yard moves,” driving the trains, alone, from the 179th Street terminal to a nearby MTA yard to be cleaned and serviced.

In 1981, young Darius operated an E train six stops from 34th Street to the World Trade Center without the conductor or passengers reporting anything amiss.

Mr. McCollum said he believed the incident “blackballed” him from employment with the city’s transit system.

His lawyer, Sally Butler, said Mr. McCollum’s well-chronicled acts were a result of uncontrollable impulses attributable to what is commonly referred to as Asperger’s syndrome, which mental-health authorities now call autism-spectrum disorder.

A fascinating but sad story from The Wall Street Journal. In a slightly different world, he might have been the Transit Authority’s top employee. More on Wikipedia.

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