As long time readers have probably noticed (and new readers will soon realize), I enjoy me some folklore and urban legends, among other bizarre, morbid, and macabre things. As for why I do, there are probably lots of reasons. If you want to make a long story short though, the simple explanation is that I have always been this way. I’m just a curious fella (hence the science major and other such nerdy things), and I always have been.
One of the earliest instances of this curiosity in action that I can remember involved the train tracks that run across the street from my house. I was taught to be wary of them at all times, but especially when a train was coming (duh, right?). This was for good reason, as at least three people have been killed on the stretch of tracks that run through town, and those are only the deaths of which I’m aware.
I heard other stories about railroad tracks as well, one of which I couldn’t resist to test as a kid. The story went that if you left a penny on the train tracks the train would come off its rails. The thought of a train derailing was, at the time, awesome. The image I had of it was of the train hitting the penny and just sort of tipping off the rails, falling onto the embankment between the tracks and my house (of course I had no notion of how horrible a train wreck really was, but that’s beside the point).
With that image in mind, I had to try it. So, when I was certain there wasn’t a train on the way (because I was at least smart enough to realize that being anywhere near the path of a several ton hunk of steel moving at 45MPH was a bad idea), I took a handful of pennies and lined them up on the tracks. Now, it might have been smarter to keep track of when the trains went by, but I was little and couldn’t read a clock (on a side note, I still have trouble reading face clocks. For some reason they just don’t click in my brain. I’m weird :P) So, instead, I put my pennies down and waited.
I don’t remember specifically what happened in the mean time while I waited for the train to come (because I did this sort of thing more than once), but what I do remember was what DIDN’T happen when it did come – no train fell off of its tracks or anything cool like that. What I did find was cool though – flattened pennies. The weight of the passing train cars flattened the pennies out until they were about the size of silver dollars, and the engravings on the front and back had been pulverized to the point of being barely visible. I think I found the flattened pennies more awesome than the notion of the train derailment, and they showed up in my various backyard games as treasure hard won from imaginary monsters (who, oddly enough, resembled critters from Final Fantasy and Legend of Zelda).
This was the first instance that I remember of me playing scientist. I don’t go out and test urban legends much anymore, I save that for the Mythbusters, but I still love to read and write about them just the same!
So what about you? Want to share a story about when you tried to play Mythbuster?