Many of you may have no clue what the Drunk Train is but as a native of Long Island, I am quite familiar with “The Drunk Train,” which is the last train home from New York City to Long Island on a Friday or Saturday night. It is affectionately referred to as the Drunk Train because just about everyone on the train has reached the peak of their drunkenness for the evening during the trip home. Some of these people would definitely find that New York alcohol withdrawal treatment would come in handy.
In the episode, Barney and Ted decide they are going to hop on the Drunk Train in an effort to find slutty, drunk Long Island women to have sex with. The episode was a good idea in theory but the writers failed at portraying what The Drunk Train is really like.
Before I explain what the Drunk Train is really like, you must understand the underlying causes of the Drunk Train.
The Cause of the Drunk Train
The Long Island Rail Road has a very limited schedule after midnight. Typically there is a train to most stops sometime in the 1 a.m. hour. After that, there usually isn’t another one until about 4 a.m.
Not wanting to wait up to three hours for the next train to come at 4:00 a.m., all the Long Islanders leave whatever bar they were at and rush to Penn Station to cram onto a 1:45 a.m. train. Since just minutes ago many of these people were doing Jaeger bombs and shots of Café Patron, there was no time for them to sip on a glass of water and sober up a bit before heading home.
With all these inebriated people crammed onto a train, the ride home becomes just as much of an adventure as the night preceding it.
The Drunk Train is Not a Big Party
How I Met Your Mother depicted the Drunk Train as a giant party lasting all the way until a rider’s destination. In the episode, skanky women with awfully impersonated Long Island accents and guidos appear to be having a blast on the Drunk Train. Barney succeeds in convincing a skank to sleep with him. The Drunk Train appears to be blast.
There is a slight element of truth to this. Yes, there are usually a few skanky women and some guidos on the Drunk Train. There are a handful of people having lots of fun but there are many more who are suffering.
In reality, the real Drunk Train depicts a vicious power struggle between the group of drunk people—who are either violently ill or extremely rowdy—and the poor sober people who for whatever reason had the misfortune of getting on the Drunk Train in the first place. Perhaps these sober people work at night or missed an earlier train. Whatever the case, these unfortunate sober people will rue the day they got on the Drunk Train. Many drunks will also face hardships during this voyage. In the end, only a select few will have an enjoyable trip home. But it will come at the expense of others.
A Typical Trip on the Drunk Train
Let me take you through what a typical trip on the Drunk Train is really like. Imagine yourself in this situation…
It’s Friday night. After a long days work in New York City, you decide to hang out in the city and get a few drinks. A bar in midtown is having a great happy hour special—Only six dollars a beer!
Several hours later, it’s 1:30 in the morning and after a long day of working and a long night of drinking, you’re ready to go home. You’re tired, disheveled and a little drunk yourself. You’re beginning to sober up and all you want to do is go home and go to sleep.
You hop in a cab and get dropped off at Penn Station. You look at your watch and realize you have a minute and a half to get to your train. If you miss it, you are stuck there for the rest of the night and will be stuck standing in the waiting area, staring at the departure board for three hours.
You sprint to the train and get on just as the doors are closing. Relieved that you made it, you look to see some poor saps sprint down the stairs right as the door closes. They will be stuck there till 4:30 now. You smirk and say to yourself, “Thank God I’m not those guys.” But you quickly realize you may be envying them soon enough.
You manage to get one of the few seats remaining. You’re happy you got a seat until you discover what is around you…
You look ahead of you and there’s a group of rowdy 20-somethings screaming and yelling nonsense at the top of their lungs.
You peak to your left and see a young girl who is clearly under the legal drinking age and dressed like a prostitute, keeled over, throwing up in her tiny purse after having one too many vodka and cranberries.
You look down at your feet and see a mysterious liquid seeping past you. You turn around to discover the bathroom is overflowing. Someone clogged the toilet but all the drunks desperately have to use the bathroom and are only concerned with evacuating their bladders. You do your best to keep your feet away from the path of the leak.
Just past the overflowing bathroom, you spot the poor conductor, who clearly fucked up his life at some point to be stuck working this job and this shift, desperately trying to get a ticket from a person who is passed out drunk. In the distance you hear the sound of someone crying.
Meanwhile, directly across from you there is the aforementioned sober person—who just wants some peace and quiet on his ride home. All the chaos is getting to him as well. You see the rage building up in his face as he approaches his breaking point.
You think to yourself that this ride can’t be any more miserable. You hope you are almost home. You look to see where you are and realize you haven’t moved yet. Of course…the train is experiencing mechanical problems. The conductor gets on the intercom and assures you they will be moving shortly. Ten minutes pass and finally the train is moving. By now, you know the life story of the person sitting behind you, who is talking at an extremely high volume on his cell phone, discussing intimate details about his personal life.
20 minutes later, you’ve finally reached the Jamaica train station. Some of the drunks get off to transfer to other trains and you begin to feel some relief. But the Rowdy 20-Somethings are still in your car, being as loud as ever. The 20 ounce canned beer they bought at a pizzeria in Penn Station has only added to their drunkenness.
A few minutes go by and Sober Guy has reached his breaking point. After working a 12-hour shift on a Friday night, he just can’t take it anymore. He yells out to the Rowdy 20-Somethings to keep it down.
The leader of the Rowdy 20-Somethings, infused with a .15 blood alcohol level takes offense to this comment. He flexes his beer muscles and approaches Sober Guy, challenging him to a fight. All hell breaks loose.
The sober man, who is the only person on the train with a clear mind, thinks better of this situation and tries to avoid the conflict, quietly getting up and walking towards another car.
Beer muscles guy is not having it and is determined to get into a fight. He continues to confront Sober Guy, calling him every name for a female sex organ he can think of. While this is happening, his girlfriend stumbles out of her seat and tries to stop him, yelling and cursing at him incoherently. The volume in the train reaches a level you didn’t think was possible as the Rowdy 20-Somethings are yelling at everyone within eyesight.
The conductor has given up trying to check tickets or even control the customers and is hiding somewhere, probably looking for a new job in the classified section of a discarded newspaper.
After ten minutes pass, cooler heads prevail and everyone goes back to minding their own business. Shortly after, you realize you are about to reach your stop.
Because of the LIRR budget cuts, the Drunk Train does not stop in your town at this time of night. You get off at Mineola, which is three towns away from your home. You and 50 other drunks fight for three cabs waiting by the train station. You are too slow. The drunks are surprisingly quick and agile for someone in their condition. They beat you to the cabs.
After waiting 45 minutes for one of the cabs to return, you are finally picked up and driven the 15 minutes to your house. The driver charges you 40 dollars. You begrudgingly hand over the money and walk into your house. It’s 3:30 a.m.
You swear that from now on, you’ll take the 11:30 train home from the city. It never happens. You’ll inevitably end up on the Drunk Train again.
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