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Max Shein is a Whiz Kid

The Merion Station teen learns a lot in his regular visits to the Narberth train station.

Editor's note: This is a weekly series in which we will highlight the special accomplishments of neighborhood kids or teenagers.

Each week, we will seek suggestions from readers for individual kids, youth groups, teens and even sports teams that wow us with their accomplishments. We want to hear about these amazing children and teens and select one each week as our Whiz Kid.  Submit your nomination in our comment box below or e-mail the information to eric.campbell@patch.com.

This week's Patch Whiz Kid: Max Shein, 14, of Merion Station

School: Max is a ninth-grader at in Rosemont.

Accomplishment: In years of spending hours a day observing SEPTA trains and employees at work, most recently at the Narberth station, Max has become perhaps his neighborhood's most complete and reliable source of information about the transit agency a traveler could hope to find.

Key to awesomeness: Max has been interested in trains "as long as I can remember," he told Patch during the afternoon commute at the Narberth train station. "I used to go down to Merion a couple years back. We moved here and I come down here a lot, too. People started recognizing me."

Those who do recognize the boy in the SEPTA knit hat certainly know if they weren't sure which combination of routes to take somewhere, he could tell them without a moment's hesitation, something he demonstrated in an interview.

Most afternoons after school, Max walks the five minutes from his Rockland Avenue house to the station, staying for an hour or two.

"I come out here and get to see all the good stuff," Max said. "I get to know the schedules, the people who work them. The guy coming in right now, his name is Bob."

As a train pulled into the station, Max waved at Bob, who waved back.

Max said he has ridden all the regional rail lines and started memorizing schedules years ago, on a trip with his grandmother from Merion to Whitford on the R5 line.

Under the new SEPTA nomenclature, the line is called Paoli-Thorndale, but Max said he refuses to switch: "I grew up with the R's." He's not a fan of SEPTA's entire fleet, either.

"I don't like buses," Max said. "I'm a train and subway nut."

He wants to be "a subway operator or a Regional Rail engineer" when he's ready for a career, which isn't something he can talk to a lot of classmates about, he said.

"A lot of them just don't understand and I get made fun of," Max said. "Getting made fun of about it is just something I try to live with, and it's really not that hard. I'm living a much happier life than they are."

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