Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Wesley Autrey, Daniel Fitzpatrick and Schwarzfahrer (”The Fare Dodger”)

Taking a break from pharma (it is the weekend after all), some thoughts connected by two threads: trains and racism. For those one or two of you who didn't hear about this, 2007 was ushered in with news of an amazing act of heroism, when New Yorker Wesley Autrey, a 50-year-old construction worker travelling with his two young daughters, saved the life of 19-year-old film student Cameron Hallopeter, who had fallen after a seizure, right onto the City College 137th Street IRT station tracks. This news made many of us ask "what would you have done?" Below a clip of an interview with David Letterman. It has haunted me for weeks. Anyone who knows the NYC subways knows how frightening its tracks are: rat infested, with the ever present threat of the electrified third rail. With an oncoming train only feet away, Autrey's solution was to hand his four-and six-year-old daughters over to the care of a sympathetic fellow rider, itself a major leap of faith, jump onto the tracks and lie on top of Hollopeter right on the tracks, leaving just enough clearance for the train to pass over them. With numerous awards, and, no doubt a film and book contract will be forthcoming soon, can't help but hope that the sudden fame and attention won't change such an outstanding character. One week later, another New Yorker, the EMS worker  Daniel Fitzpatrick, saved a suicidal woman from the subway tracks in Brooklyn. Wesley Autrey, who is African American, came to the aid of white student, where Fitzpatrick, who is white, came to the aid of a passenger at Brooklyn's Bushwick stop, who was extremely likely to be nonwhite.Although racism is still rampant , these incidents offered a few "points of light" and glimpses of hope for the future. But this gem of an Oscar-winning short film, the Fare Dodger (schwarzfahrer in German, which also means black passenger) shows how much further we have to go. In it, tensions on a German suburban train in the 1990s, come to a surprising, but funny resolution...it's in German, but any human being anywhere in the world will "get it." -AMS