Making MCS Fun Again (Part 2)

From early 2008.

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At one time, my main man Sloop and I were making regular weeknight visits to the old train station to drink some 40s, goof off, and bitch about work. This had become our custom since the train station was an easy one to do on a weeknight, and it gave us an excuse to go eat Mexican food.

On one earlier occasion the previous summer, we had actually run into another group of buffoons who we terrorized to some extent by stalking them around in the building. After watching them do the dumbest thing imaginable to gain access to the joint (slowly and laboriously climb the razor wire fence out front), we decided that these tyros needed to be messed with. 

We stayed a floor or two above them at all times, and then lofted a brick or something out a window to the concourse roof below to produce a deafening crash. They made themselves easy to follow by their carelessly-directed flashlight beams in the windows below, and listening to their noisy progress through the building and in the two main stairwells. Whenever we spotted them below, we would wait until they walked past a window or came out of a stairwell to launch another brick or glass bottle down at the metal concourse roof to spook them.

As night was falling, I picked up one of the rusty old light fixtures and timed it to impact the brick wall of the “canyon” just as they were stopped and looking out a window. On its way down, the metal fixture scraped across the brick with a dazzling shower of sparks and a blood-curdling noise that shattered the surrounding silence. This got a big reaction out of the group, who quickly decided it was time to leave, and it wasn't long before we watched them scramble awkwardly back over the fence into Roosevelt Park. I yelled something at them from across the park like "SEE YA!" which they did not find amusing.

It was on another winter’s night however that we ran into a group of five tripod-wielding tourists after dark who were definitely less hardy than those goons…but at least they knew how to get into the place properly, I suppose. Sloop and I had already finished most of our 40s by the time these guys made their appearance, and we had no plans to screw with them at first.

We had been standing around in the waiting room just sipping our beers and shooting the shit when we heard the clamor of voices and footsteps coming up the ramp from the baggage area, followed by flashlight beams shot carelessly off the surrounding walls, announcing their approach from 50 feet away. Without missing a beat, we went into stealth mode and found a good spot to listen from before deciding what to do; we could hear that it was a group of at least four, with at least one female voice. We decided to go down and maybe meet these people and see who they were, but we wanted to move in closer to observe them some more before revealing our presence. 

We snuck into the dark ticket office and watched for a few seconds as they milled about in the main concourse, debating whether to go upstairs and monitor the group for a bit more, or just appear to them right now. Sloop seemed more into stalking them for a bit so he went back behind cover, though I was buzzed and didn’t care; I stood in the middle of the ticket office swilling my Colt 45, waiting to see if they would notice me or not.

I was mainly trying to see who this was and whether I knew them or not. So far I couldn’t tell, but I kind of wanted to meet them. Just then, one of the dudes (the burlier one) came toward the ticket office and stopped dead outside the doorway when his flashlight beam illuminated me standing there calmly with my beer in mid-swig. 

He of course gave the obligatory panic reaction of “OH SHIT,” and “YOU SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME,” while backpedaling. He recovered with a quick, insincere “Sup,” while retreating quickly to the safety of the group to say that classic nervous line, “Guys—we’re not alone in here; guysguys, we have company.” Once he finally got their scattered attention there was some hushed whispering, then the group quickly moved on.

I was of course highly offended that they didn't stay and chat, LOL! I had actually wanted to meet the group and blab for a minute, but obviously they were skittish, and this may have been the first time they had done this at night. Or, at least it was the first time they had actually run into someone here at night. I don’t think they expected there to be anyone in the place on a weeknight. Maybe it was the fact that I usually dress like I'm homeless, and that somehow frightened them. 

At any rate, I was now convinced that these guys needed to be f*cked with a bit. Sloop and I quickly moved up the stairs to the roof of the ticket office, and looked out the hole in the wall where the big clock used to be, to watch the party of adventurers as they migrated down the grand arched hall toward the downtown side of the building. We could see them at the end setting up their tripods again, and shooting down the hall towards our position at the ticket office.

Again, Sloop was more in hiding, but I deemed it admissible to simply step through the hole in the wall out onto the top of the ticket office in the darkness and stand there to watch them, and see if they noticed me up there. They were firing flash pictures, and I chuckled to myself as I realized they still didn’t see me, and that tomorrow as they go through their pics they will see me standing there in the middle of the frame.

Just then I heard one of them exclaim again, “There’s someone up there!” followed by the usual muffled discussion and momentary confusion. They quickly moved on again, obviously heading to the main stairwell that was right around the corner from where they were standing between the elevator bays. We were now laughing heartily, though trying to keep quiet.

I instantly bolted back into the room over the ticket office and went for the other stairwell, to head these guys off. Sloop followed immediately behind as we silently rushed up the steps with our flashlights off. With them all noisily herding up the east tower stair, we were able to utilize the west tower stair and pop out on or above whatever floor they chose before they even got there, and wait for them to arrive.

We ran up to the second floor and looked down the corridor to see the lights of the group spilling out the stairwell door at the other side as they laboriously continued their march. As they neared and then passed this landing, we sprinted on tip-toe up to the third, and with our lights still off we began to walk down the corridor toward their stairwell. As I got about halfway, I noticed their flashlights begin to spill out onto this floor and saw the group milling around by the doorway, about to come onto this floor.

Again Sloop dove for the shadows to avoid detection, but I was in the middle of the corridor, not sure of what I really wanted to do, and it was too late to dive for cover seeing as I would make all kinds of noise on the shattered marble strewn across the floor. So I just stopped and casually leaned up against a pillar and began sipping my beer again. That’s exactly when the first two of the group rounded the corner out of the stairwell and flashed their lights down the corridor, lighting me up out of the darkness.

I wasn’t looking at them, I wasn’t moving, wasn’t panting, or anything…just nonchalantly sipping the same 40oz again—the same guy in a dirty Carhartt and hoodie they had seen just seconds before. The two stopped dead in their tracks, causing a pile-up of the rest of the people in the stairwell behind them. The flashlights scanned me for a few more seconds as the rest of the party quickly figured out what had caused the holdup, and without any words or further deliberation, they did an abrupt about-face and silently went right back the way they came and started up the stairs again. It was evident that I had now scared the living shit out of them, on a level significantly more profound than earlier.

As soon as they were out of earshot, I couldn’t contain myself any longer—I almost died laughing. I had to explain it to Sloop, since he hadn’t seen what happened. I could hardly believe that this group—which was more than twice our number and contained at least one or two "big dudes"—was so afraid of one little guy calmly drinking a 40oz down the hall. Despite this, they kept going up further into the building. Maybe they thought they could get away from me in that direction, or maybe they thought I was blocking their way out…? Keep in mind, my partner had thus far remained totally unseen to them.

After I was able to stop laughing myself to tears, we decided to now rush up several flights of stairs in order to get well above the group, so as to terrorize them from above. One of our tactics we sometimes used was to go exactly one floor above a group and then suddenly stampede down the central hallway, stomping as loudly as we could before going up the stairwell on the other side. But instead we chose to give them a respite, to put their minds at rest and let them think they had finally given me the slip, causing them to lower their guard again. We merely monitored them from above for some time, watching them move through the 6th or 7th floor by leaning out the window to see their flashlight beams and hear their footsteps. We didn’t want to scare them too bad too soon. 

After about 10 or 15 minutes of this we lost track of the party’s exact location, and again decided to start messing with them again, so we devised a plan where we would split off to opposite ends of the building. Actually, it started off as a plan to go to each of the two stairwells and listen so we could hear where the group was, but we then decided to start throwing debris in tandem out the windows so as to further confuse and terrify our prey.

Remember, they still had no idea that there was more than one person following them. Sloop went to one end of the tower, and I went to the other, and we started tossing one or two things down to the bottom every couple minutes or so. We’d toss one thing, it’d crash, we’d see flashlight beams shine out the windows, we’d snicker…then regain composure and wait for the lights to go back inside before throwing something else down a minute later in a different side of the building. We only did this routine for a couple rounds at most before deciding to end this game with a big finish.

After we were certain we had these fools’ complete attention, we gathered up a supply of ammo, including some larger items. As soon as they went back to whatever they were doing down on the 6th floor, we waited another second, then began a rain of debris like never before; we made sure to vary where we tossed the items so as to made it seem as if it was coming from everywhere, or that there were like 10 people doing it. The din was incredible…bricks, glass, metal, wood, plaster—everything went.

There was a frenzied sweep of flashlight beams out the windows momentarily before I saw them moving toward the stairwell on the west side of the tower. We quickly ran out of ammo, and met again in the center of the tower to laugh. We had pretty much run out of ideas, so we decided to just chill out for a bit and finish our beers. We had had our fun for the evening. Suddenly as I was looking down I saw a series of flashlight beams through the gaps in the main concourse roof, wildly sweeping across the floor as the line of people holding them ran full speed from the bottom of the stairs in the direction of the ramp back down to the baggage area and out of the building.

For a good five minutes I laughed so hard I couldn't speak. I couldn’t believe we had actually scared these guys that bad (or that easily) to where they were actually running out of the building in sheer panic. Sloop and I remained sitting at that windowsill for some time, when he spied off in the distance a group of five figures in black carrying tripods, power-walking down Vernor. 

It was them! I took a deep breath, and yelled at the top of my lungs, “Y’ALL COME BACK NOW, Y’HEAR!” I know they heard it because one of them paused momentarily to look and point. They then quickly got into a car that was—as a matter of fact, parked directly in front of mine—and sped off almost as soon as the driver’s butt hit the seat. 

I'm such an asshole.

There was another time where I was in the train station by myself on a summer day, going up the stairs, when I heard people coming up from below. I stopped and waited to see who it was. The group of flipflop-wearing teenagers (three girls and one boy) were huffing and puffing with their heads down while marching the stairs, and the guy in the head of the pack was carrying a small metal pipe. Clearly he was supposed to be the knight in shining armor that would protect these girly-girls from the big bad Detroiters, or "thugs," or whoever it was that lurked in the train station.

They came up to within about three feet of me before the guy with the pipe looked up from his feet and saw me standing there on the landing. Now, I'm only 5'10" and 140lbs...hardly an intimidating figure. But he was so startled, his whole body shuddered violently as he shrank back in terror, gasping, almost running over his shrieking female companions to get away. Some knight in shining armor! As their footsteps all thundered back downstairs to escape the big bad wolf, I yelled down to them, "YOU FORGOT YOUR PIPE!"

So not every one of my stories about stalking people in MCS ends the same way...there was one really interesting time where the hunters became the hunted. Sloop and I were up to our usual Tuesday night shenanigans, messing with a group of three dudes and one female by making disturbances around them as we had before.

But we had underestimated this group of veterans, who quickly went into stealth mode once we had begun to creep up on them. Somewhere on the 3rd floor, if I remember correctly, as Sloop and I were tiptoeing down a main hallway to get closer to them, my foot clumsily hit a piece of marble on the floor, alerting our prey. They went into stealth mode, shutting their lights off and going silent, and Sloop and I had no choice but to dive into the nearest side room.

We were near a stairway that we wanted to use to get to another floor, but at this point any move we made would be detected and there was no other way out of the room we were in. So we went silent too, and decided to play the waiting game; surely these people would eventually go back to what they were doing, and we can slowly go back about our business. After about 15 minutes had passed we began to wonder whether this group was even still there anymore.

Sloop and I discussed this in whispers, doubtful that there would be anyone who would stay silent for this long...they must have moved out of the area back while we were diving for cover. But how could they have gone anywhere without our hearing them? We decided to stay put for a little while longer just to be sure. Eventually we decided that there was no way these cats could still be in hiding on this floor—and furthermore our beer ran out—so we decided to leave.

Nonetheless, when we came out and made our move for the stairwell we did so in stealth mode just in case—but as soon as we stepped out into the hall we were lit up by bright flashlight beams from multiple directions—holy sh#$% they had us! Standing there like a couple amateurs, we could do nothing but laugh and take our lumps. We ended up talking to these guys for quite some time, swapping stories and sharing laughs at our antics.

It was unreal to meet another group of fellow troublemakers that were up to the same shenanigans as us, and who had even bested us at our own game. Other than the historical and educational aspects of exploring abandoned buildings that I usually write about on this website, there are the silly, hilarious antics behind the scenes too, which I will always remember. 

As a sort of bonus here, I'll include these next couple photos to show an area of the train station that was rarely photographed. In fact, I can't recall ever having seen anyone else's photos of it before—the pedestrian subway from the platforms to the concourse:

This area was commonly overlooked because the tunnel was basically welded shut on both sides if I recall correctly, and only accessible by squeezing between some metal bars across a small opening on one end, which was located in a very dark area. So it went pretty much unnoticed by most, and since it was completely dark inside even fewer people have photos. I still remember the first time we found it; it was like unlocking a secret level of a video game we had already played through many times before. These two photos were actually taken by Sloop on his camera; I did the "light painting" while he held the shutter open. It took a few tries to get it right, since this was done in pitch blackness.

This next one shows a stairway up to a platform. It is covered from above by a huge steel plate.

These photos are from November 2007. As of autumn 2021, this ornate and little-known part of the train station was demolished by Ford Motor Co. in their renovation of the building.