Let me start off this story by first stating for the record that I am a skeptic and do not believe in the paranormal. That being said, I had a mighty strange experience on the train home today that I can’t explain. Hoping some of you can talk me off of the It-Was-A-Ghost Ledge.
So I work in downtown Chicago and commute every day on the Metra Union Pacific North Line. I usually take the 5:21PM train home (used to be the 5:10p before all of the changes they made to the schedule) and my stop, Rogers Park, is the second stop of the route.
For those that don’t know, Metra trains have a door in the middle of each car with a small vestibule and doors going towards the front half of the car or the rear half of the car. Here is a photo of the type of train car I was on. I got onto the third car from the front of the train, and sat next to the window on the left side, just five or six rows up from the vestibule. The vestibule has heavy sliding doors that open after you press a big black button-panel. They usually take a few moments to open up after you’ve pressed the button. To the right and left of the vestibule door, inside the car, are stairs that go up to a single row of seats that line the top of both sides of the train car. Some cars have a toilet, but this one did not.
At our first stop, Ravenswood, hundreds of people (including a lady that had been sitting next to me) get off the train. Because of the schedule changes, some trains have been eliminated so there are just a lot more people getting on and off and it took awhile for everyone to get off the train at Ravenswood. A few people got onto the train and one of them sat down next to me.
The person that sat next to me was a man, I’d say in his upper-50’s, wearing a gray business suit with a jacket and tie and carrying a large leather briefcase. The briefcase caught my eye because it was obviously very old. It looked like something you’d see a lawyer carrying around with all of his papers in it. I say that it was obviously very old because the leather was worn and cracked and honestly looked like it came out of an antique shop. It kind of looked like this, only with a much larger square buckle that was located closer to the top of the bag. He sat down in a bit of a huff.
Because I knew I was getting off at the next stop, only a few minutes away, I motioned towards my “B” pass (showing that I’m not going much further) and said “I’m getting off at the next stop if you’d like to switch places now.” This is a pretty common courtesy on the Metra and I’ve never had someone refuse.
Without looking at me, and in a curt tone of voice, he said, “No, I don’t!.”
I turned back towards the book that I’m reading thinking to myself, Jeez… Fine you asshole. Whatever guy.
Three minutes later, the train is slowing down to my stop and I reach up to grab my pass and begin returning it to my wallet. As I’m doing this, the briefcase jerk stands up quickly and turns to the right towards the vestibule where I’d entered. I stand up, put my wallet in my pocket, and then follow him into the aisle wondering to myself where the guy was moving to. My first thought was that he didn’t want to deal with letting me out of my seat, so he decided to shift to another open seat before we stopped. Makes sense, except that when I get into the aisle and look around at the few rows between me and the vestibule - the guy isn’t in any of them.
Ok, maybe he went through the vestibule doors already and is getting off at Rogers Park as well. Perhaps he was just moving towards the doors to beat the crowd. But I look towards the vestibule and the doors on both sides of the area are closed. As I said earlier, the doors are slow to open but they’re even slower to close - staying open for sometimes a full minute before they shut again.
Besides the door being closed, there were also two people standing in the aisle between myself and the door. Looking through the glass in the door, I can see that the vestibule is full of people and that there are several people in the aisle in the rear half of the car waiting to get out as well, behind their closed door.
Ok, weird, I thought… but maybe he went up the stairs to sit in one of the solo-seats up above. Makes total sense, especially since he’s not sitting in any of the other main-level seats and it seemed pretty unlikely that he’d been able to move to the other half of the car as there were so many obstacles (people in the aisle and the two doors). I look up at the second-level seats and most were empty from people getting off at the first stop, and he was clearly not on either side of the second level.
I move forward towards the door, the two other aisle people are still between me and the door but I’m able to move far enough forward to see that he was not standing in either stairway. At this point, I could also see the entire vestibule very clearly and he was not inside that area waiting for the doors.
The train got to my stop, the doors opened, and we all pour out. I look around but I still don’t see him anywhere.
Now, as I said at the beginning of this story - I’m a skeptic and I really do not believe in ghosts or other types of paranormal activity. I have never hallucinated and do not have a history of mental illness. With all of that said, and my story laid out for you, please tell me what you think happened to this guy. Here are the only places he could have gone:
An empty seat somewhere near by. (Nope, he wasn’t sitting anywhere.)
He’d gone upstairs to sit on the second level. (I had a clear view of that level and he was not there.)
He was in the stairwell working his way up to the second level. (He was not in either of the stairwells when I looked. Also, there was at least one other man standing on the stairwell so he would have had to work his way past him to get onto that side.
Maybe he was in the toilet. (No toilet in the car I was on. Some cars have them and some do not.)
He’d opened the door, worked his way past the several people in the vestibule, opened the other door and then worked his way past even more people in the opposite aisle. (Most likely scenario, I guess, but it seems really unlikely given the circumstances. Plus, WHY would he make that kind of move.)
He literally vanished. (Ugh, I don’t like this option but I’m out of ideas.)
I will say that the two people in the aisle between myself and the door very well could have stood up and moved into the aisle AFTER this guy did, so he might not have had to get past them. However, I’m fairly certain there was at least one person standing in the aisle after we left the Ravenswood stop, which I had noticed in my peripheral vision.
Ok Dopers… Help me out here. What happened. Am I just crazy-pants and imagining things or is there another possibility I’m not thinking of?