Friday, January 05, 2007

My New Rap Name Is Wesley Autrey

If you're looking for a role model who's keeping it real in the '07, look no further than "Subway Superman" Wesley Autrey. Wesley, 50, father of two, jumped on the train tracks to save a stranger who had fallen down as an oncoming train approached. The subway was unable to stop before reaching the two would-be passengers:
Mr. Autrey was waiting for the downtown local at 137th Street and Broadway in Manhattan around 12:45 p.m. He was taking his two daughters, Syshe, 4, and Shuqui, 6, home before work.

Nearby, a man collapsed, his body convulsing. Mr. Autrey and two women rushed to help, he said. The man, Cameron Hollopeter, 20, managed to get up, but then stumbled to the platform edge and fell to the tracks, between the two rails.

The headlights of the No. 1 train appeared. “I had to make a split decision,” Mr. Autrey said.

So he made one, and leapt.

Mr. Autrey lay on Mr. Hollopeter, his heart pounding, pressing him down in a space roughly a foot deep. The train’s brakes screeched, but it could not stop in time.

You obviously need to read the story, but both Autrey and Hollopeter survived, on some straight cinematic ish. I'm sure Will Smith is optioning the movie rights as we speak.

Only a few days in, this may very well be the feel-good story of the year. And there's been plenty of hubbub. Michael Bloomberg awarded him the bronze star, the city's highest citizen award (previous winners include Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, and Gen. Douglas MacArthur). Donald Trump has given him $10K. MTA gave him a years supply of metrocards (woohoo! come on MTA, if ever there was a moment to give the lifetime metrocard this was it). There's talk of reality shows, and scholarships for his daughter. All very deserving.

Do read the NY Times opinion/comment section, where there are 540+ comments and counting, all amusingly speculating on whether they'd have the cajones to Do What Wesley Did.

Two subsequent thoughts that strike me: 1.) The man he saved was a stranger, and by himself, but what if he was there with his girlfriend or boyfriend? Obviously he's a hero/angel/new hardcore emcee moniker because anyone might pause before jumping in front of an oncoming train, even if you'd been dating for a while. But I'm totally amused by the idea that someone's partner falls in, they don't have the balls to save them, but this guy does. And now you have to face that in the aftermath. Would the relationship be over? If it were a married couple, would you just hold it over their head for the rest of all time? "I know you couldn't save me on the train tracks earlier, so just plan on taking out the trash and washing the dishes in perpetuity. Thanks. Oh, and the oral sex? Wesley's gonna be receiving that going forward. Just FYI."

2.) On the flip side, while I'm totally in the Wesley-as-angel camp, he did have two daughters, so it's not just his life he was risking. If the scene turns tragic, who knows how they might be affected. It's slightly less selfless (microscopically so) because of their presence.

Luckily it was all good, so we just get to watch a hero get his due. And I'm feeling all the rewards and accolades he's getting, so I might just start going around pushing people into traffic and on to train tracks just so I can save them and make some paper. Might be easier than getting paid via writing for magazines.

Man Is Rescued by Stranger on Subway Tracks
[NY Times]
Subway Savior Showered With Gifts [Federal News Radio]


  1. trip out how he probably didnt even realize what he was doing until he was face down into the tracks.

    its the hero instinct. that just blows my mind.

    OT: the Gawker has become so boring for me that I had to remove it from my blogs to harass list. Their entertainment value has died. We had a small wake for it. I brought the bean dip.

  2. I'm not dating anyone who throws himself in front of a train without giving me his wallet first. Sort of like the whole Eddie Murphy in the burning building "throw down your wallet" thing.

    And maybe his watch too.

  3. I don't think I'd ever crawl into that in-between-train muck for anyone, regardless of life or death. That makes me a bad person, right? Darnit!

    (still giggling at Will Smith optioning the story)

  4. First of all I think this guy is fantastic and deserves all he is getting. But your point about pushing someone on the tracks and saving them is close to what I have been thinking all week. I am wondering if we will see the first 'copycat hero'. Now that we know one has room under the train to survive I could see a two person team with someone 'falling' and someone else 'saving' them then declaring themsleves a hero as well. Regardless, this guy is still blowing my mind. If in 2 weeks people are still talking about K-Fed and not this guy something is really wrong.

  5. You said, "I might just start going around pushing people into traffic and on to train tracks just so I can save them and make some paper."

    Remind me again ... exactly which subway lines do you frequent? I just wanna be sure to steer way the hell clear of you!!! ;)

  6. Came your way by "The Girl also blogs".

    Sounds like the kind of asinine thing I would do and later realize that it could have turned out disastrous but kudos Wesley you came out unscathed!

    Have a great weekend!

  7. I think he does deserve all of this attention. It is nice to not only see heroes in the media for a change, but to see a man act like a real man and not some chicken sh*t. In an age where Justin Timberlake or 50 Cent represent our ideal of manhood, its nice to see a celebration of an average blue collar man taking care of his children who took action to save someone because he could. These are the men in our celebrity-obsessed consumer culture that get lost in the mix. And of course Hollywood will cease on this extraordinary story and cast some some pseudo-man to play the role. In the meantime, millions of such men will toil away in silence, unappreciated, just because its the right thing to do. Would it cause a rift in a relationship? Absolutely. And it darn well should. Because too many of us (not just men, women too) live selfishly and in pursuit of pseudoglamorous fleeting fame. I'm sure with time there will be skeletons coming out of this man's closet. We all have a past. But having the courage to act in that moment--all the while showing his concern about his children--shows character that few of us display in circumstances far less dire. All hail Wesley. That's what I say.

  8. Anonymous1/07/2007

    Wesley obviously had deep faith in himself and God or he would not have been able to leave his children. For him, there was no time for a "what if I die?" He trusted God "in the moment" which is something many people are afraid to do. Most people walk around daily with the perpetual anxiety of "what if?" The outcome was not up to Wesley. It was up to God and Wesley already knew that deep down inside his heart where it counts!

  9. Okay,

    That was great. I came to your blog by way of Mist who was by way of the Dragon. You are hilarious. I will be back to visit.

    Ms. Denva

  10. yasamin - who else came to the wake? Denton?

    mist - you always have your priorities straight

    odat - hi

    paige jennifer - I like how the muck is a deterrent, but not necessarily the oncoming train. You're not bad I guess, just complicated.

    midwesterner - yes, it will be sad when this story is forgotten for some pop twaddle

    funky - but I'm going to save you. everyone likes to be saved, right?

    tisha - hi tisha, great weekend to you as well

    xeno - you said it all, I second your motion.

    anon - word

    ms. denva - cool, do come back, you'll be missed until you do.

  11. Anonymous1/08/2007

    I'm kinda into you point #2. I just posted on Larry's blog about this...
    "Yes, it's heroic, but if something had gone awry (and there was plenty of room for that to happen) his two little girls would have been left fatherless. Being a good father is heroic in itself. Thankfully it didn't come to this, but the question arises: would it be better to be remembered by your children as a celebrated hero or to be a real but unsung hero and stay in their lives?"
    Again, I know, he is lucky enough to be both. And, of course, I have no idea how I would react in a situation like that. It was a really tough decision to make, I imagine, and thankfully it worked out.

  12. Great writing on the subject, TAN. I admit to being excited that Mr. Autrey was an average blue collar Joe. Isn't it good to hear the media saying, "They may rob you in the subway, but, hey, they could one day save your life! They, too, are part of the human condition." Warmed my heart.

  13. sobercity - yeah, its such an incredible disparity between tragic and happy ending, really remarkable.

    fringes - thanks. are you referring to race? I dont' see race personally, but yeah, I see your point.[/smile]

    (html jokes are my thing today)[/holla!]

  14. TAN, not necessarily race, but I am a Southern girl, so my filters are not color-free. I was, however, referring more to classicism bias.


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