The Tunnel: Threat, or Menace?

Robertson Tunnel (photo by Wikipedia user EncMstr)The plan, you see, was to write a little story about taking the MAX through the tunnel. I started reading the marvelous MAX FAQs site, since I’m a former journalist and like to do at least some cursory research, albeit second hand.

Now that I think about it, that would not be me doing research. That would be me relentlessly stealing facts from MAX FAQs. Primary research would be me interviewing the tunnel or something (“yeah, but how do you FEEL when those trains enter you?”). I’m not going to interview a tunnel, even if I’ve got the time, and I don’t have the time so let’s get to the point here.

Wait, before we get to the point, I have one more thing to share about being a former journalist, and that would be the best piece of journalism advice I ever got. Namely, “if your mom says she loves you… check it out.” This piece of wisdom is always delivered with the wry, arched eyebrow of the hardened newspaper man, and it’s not something I would tell my therapy clients, I promise.

The point. The point, really is that the tunnel kind of scares the shit out of me. I tend not to think about it much. One of the MAX FAQs things that I did read was that there are blue lights every 750 feet in the tunnel. These blue lights, as far as I’m concerned, say one thing and one thing only – “that’s another 750 feet from being out of this fucker.”

Here’s another thing: The Washington Park platform is 260 feet underground. It’s apparently the deepest subway station in North America. I need this information like I need to know that my cavity is the biggest one my dentist has ever seen, or that the pile of cat barf I have to clean is the largest pile of cat barf in NE Portland. If you’re wondering what I’m going to be thinking when I go through the Washington Park train platform, wonder no more. It will be something like “oh god, oh god, I’m under 260 feet of rock and earth!”

I like technological marvels as much as the next guy, especially ones that are above-ground and don’t have to remind me every 750 feet that I’m in a tin can whipping along a couple of steel rails nearly a football-field underground. The Robertson Tunnel is a marvel, AND it was created by something called “Bore-Regard,” which is wry engineer humor that can be appreciated by even non-engineers.

Nothing against Robertson, but tomorrow morning when I go through the tunnel, I’m going to bury my head in my book as I always do, and I’m going to ignore those little blue lights, and I’m going to breathe deeply and thank the universe when I emerge on the other side.

Story by official TriMet Diaries contributor Dr. Jeff Guardalabene, who also blogs at drjeffblog.blogspot.com. Follow @doctor_jeff on Twitter!

And make sure to check out Dr. Jeff’s Holiday Fare project, which aims to collect and deliver transit tickets to those in need this holiday season!

Photo Credit: Robertson Tunnel photo by Wikipedia user EncMstr, used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

About Dr. Jeff

Dr. Jeff, in real life Dr. Jeff Guardalabene, is a Portland-area psychologist, who logs 300-plus miles on TriMet each week. He often live-tweets his commute to avoid intellectual stimulation. He lives with his wife and their five children and blogs about psychology issues at drjeffblog.blogspot.com. Follow @Doctor_Jeff on Twitter.
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