There was a somewhat similar story written first-person in Central Headlight
some years back. Only this concerned the third rail jumper cables NYC used when motors got gapped.
Al Hassett was the author and he was recalling the rainy night, back in the 1940s, when he was a young trainman working a West Side job. They were coming west and were stopped at the home signal at the Spuyten Duyvil draw bridge. The freights coming off the West Side were frequently crossed over from West Side Track 1 to Hudson Track 3. That's what the dispatcher intended this night. But this move completely tied up DV and there were passenger trains approaching, so they were held east of the bridge.
When they finally got going they were routed off Track 1 to cross over 4-2-1 to Track 3, tying up the entire plant. Now the problem was, as Hassett saw it, the engineman had stopped too close to the bridge, he had pulled right up to the home signal instead of laying back -- as most engineers did -- in order to get a running start on the crossover move. Object being not to stall on the crossovers and get gapped. Only this night that's exactly what happened.
The plan was for the fireman to get the jumper cables and I think for Hassett to hold one end on the third rail while the fireman applied the other end to a pickup shoe on the R2 motor and 'walked' them off the gap. Except Hassett refused to do it. He wrote that standing in pouring rain holding a jumper cable on the third rail while an R motor pulling a long freight drew current did not seem to him to be a very good idea.
I don't remember exactly how it played out except they did finally get headed west again. Someone else assisted the fireman, not Al Hassett. I do seem to recall Hassett saying the fireman didn't really blame him for not wanting to get involved. Like Hassett, the fireman was chiefly annoyed that the engineer had stopped so close to the bridge.
There were no dire consequences for Al Hassett, either, at least not of the kind that affected his employment. He continued working for Central as a trainman on up into the Conrail-MTA era.