Well Time For An Update
Posted 28 July 2004 - 04:41 PM
Most of you have figured that I am never around and that is mostly correct, but I am getting things straightened out and life is becoming a bit more stable. That is if you can call the following stable.
Here is my life on the Extra Board (and for those of you Foamers that are still contemplating the railroad way of life, stop and think hard before you accept)
The phone rings at 3am for the MRVFR 28, gotta an 1 hour and a half to get there. No problem get my stuff together and damn it now I only have 20 minutes now, so much for the coffee, let alone picking up those all important Camels and a few Redbulls.
Walk into the yard office at 430 am, gather up the paper work while waiting for the hog head to show 10 minutes late because CMS gave him a late call. In the mean time one of the managers has been out there 10 times wanting to know if you are ready to go yet. "Power is on, Air tested, hurry up with your paper work and I will be giving you a ride" Usually means he has some kind of lecture for you and your crew.
Gather up your ice and water, something the roundhouse is supposed to take of but they always seem to forget about. Hop in the manager's carry all and head for the departure yard.
After arriving there you notice your power is some old SD40T-2s and of course the lead unit is not A/C equipped, but the rear one is. So you spend the next 10 minutes switching your power around while a different manager is calling and demanding that you hurry up and get out of the yard while telling you that the A/C equipped unit was in the rear of the consist for a reason. That reason is because the Hopper is bad order, well who uses the Hopper in the lead unit anyway?
Well you get everything in order engines inspected and radio tested and call the Yard Master for permission to foul the lead and head to 57's territory. Well we have to get some one else out in front of you so standby. "Ok UP 8802 you are cleared to foul the lead and 57 knows you are coming".
Two hours later you depart.
Since you have just a plain Manifest you are bound to hit every siding to meet some "I" "Q" or "Z" train. But there is a problem, your train is 8250 feet and weighs in at just under 12,000 tons. The siding is 8300 feet and the dispatcher is calling and to tell you that you will be there for about an hour and you need to cut the crossings. Well how in the hell are we going to do that with 50 feet to spare? So we don't and in a half hours time you have some irrate homeowner throwing rocks at you and threating to call the Police or the CHP or even their Congressman if you don't move.
Finally you get a green out of the siding and leave the cops and the folks that are so pissed at both you and the railroad. Five minutes later the dispatcher is calling "UP 8802 are you pulling yet?" "Yes, but not very fast because we have 4 old units with just under 1 HP per ton. " Then we (the engineer and I) have the usual conversation of what were they thinking when they built this monster?
Well after 11hours and 15 minutes you arrive to your destination and the yard master says that he wants you to back your train into track 1 and double the rest to 2. Now what on earth is this joker thinking? We pass 1 on our way in and it is a clear rail, would have been easier to pull in and cut off the extra and double to 2. Well if that is how he wants it, I guess that is how he will get it. We get permission from the dispatcher to line the X-over from the #1 main to the #2 main and the X-over to the yard lead and start shove our train in. We get 30 of our 130 in Yard track 1 when the train takes emergency, all the slack runs out and we break a knuckle on a car that is on the X-over from Main track 2 to the yard lead. We have 10 minutes left before we are "dead" and the yard master is in his tower taking a pull on his flask he has hidden and lighting up a smoke before he calls the dispatcher and gets an earful from the corridor manager. The both mains are totally frogged, as is the east end of the yard.
This story really happened and is fairly typical of a normal day's work, you are able to work 12 and they usually keep you for at least 12.
So for a wider brush,
You go to work in Roseville and operate your train towards Oakland (110 miles or so) well for some reason you end up dying on the law about ten miles out and it takes them 2 hours to get a carry all to you, so now you have been on duty for 15 hours before you are able to get in and tie up.
Next you go to the hotel for your 10 hours of mandatory rest, so much for that hoped for daylight trip.
The return trip is not that much better, but they do manage to get you tied up before the 12 hour law.
Go home go to bed and the phone rings 6 and a half hours after you tied up.
So much for any decent sleep, what day is it? I know the date, but not the day.
On my way to Fresno this fine afternoon, a scorching 100 here in Rosveille, gauranteed to be 110 or so in Fresno
Dial in the radio channel and call the dispatcher and after the 3rd or 4th try you realize you and the engineer are on the wrong channel, aw great.
Pretty soon all the days run together as do the yards and everything else. Was it this yard the tracks do this or was it in Sparks? What radio channel goes with what dispatcher? You are constanly tired, even though the computer at work says you are rested at a certain time.
But I love it.
The wife says she misses me when I see her in the hall way on my way to bed, but she seems to lose my phone number while I am away. Don't really know how to fix that as only two options come to mind, divorce or be a Switchman in the yard (dont really want to work the yard). Maybe if I am gone more and make her some more money she will be happy. Probably not.
My online friends feel neglected, but that will be fixed when I get a laptop.
My commitments to this community has not waned, but I am having difficulty getting the time to be a part of this community. Really sucks.
Well I guess I am helping to Build America, One Siding at a Time............. Oh and those trains that you see in the sidings for days on end, they are being staged for delivery. The ones in sidings more than a week are being poised to move.
Posted 28 July 2004 - 08:41 PM
The only other thing I can say is that when you go through a town and a little kid looks up at you and waves and smiles, keep that picture in your mind. That will get you through all that. But, sounds tough and I am glad I just have to worry about the computer graphics stuttering as I run my trains. I think I like that better.
Interesting reading though Erik. Makes one appreciate what you all do even more.
As for not being able to be around as much as you like, we all understand and I wouldn't worry about it. Once you get the hang of everything and have your laptop things will begin to look a little brighter. Let's hope so anyway.
Thanks for sharing though. And we all miss you around here too. But, understand. You take care out there now, you here!
Posted 28 July 2004 - 09:26 PM
I have to admit it gives me great joy to see little kids out there waving and giving the old blow the horn signal.
I can't believe that I don't like the Sd40s, they are uncomfortable to ride in and if it is an older MP or UP engine you are about gauranteed it wont have an A/C. However if they are older DRGW and SP engines, chances are they have an A/C and it will work....of course you won't be able to hear anything and get icicles in your hair....
Posted 28 July 2004 - 09:30 PM
Glad to hear you are enjoying it! Hopefully things will get better so you can have more time/life outside of work!
Posted 30 July 2004 - 07:03 PM
I thought that fire season ran my life, but you got me beat.
Posted 31 July 2004 - 05:22 AM
Really sorry to hear all the stress you're getting with your job (even though you seem to "enjoy" some of it! ).
But what is interesting to me is that this is REAL railroading - an insight that puts flesh on the bones of our favourite sim. This is a whole new world that I know diddly about, and I can only guess about the meanings of some of the problems you mention. For the most part MSTS is just like a model railroad to me, because I jump straight in and just drive. I often wish I had an insight like yours that can bring it to life - even if it's just imagining what's going on around you as if it were real. I also wish had someone with experience like yours to basically draw a diagram and explain point by point why things are done a certain way.
I know a lot of this is probably very familiar territory to many of you, but for folk like me (and even worse I'm a Limey! ) it's an important ingredient that's missing in MSTS.
Good luck anyway Erik!
Posted 31 July 2004 - 02:58 PM
When I was in High School in the 50's I lived with my aunt and uncle. He was a conductor on the Espee in Arizona. Then they could work 15 hours and 50 minutes before going dead. We hardly ever saw him unless he layed off a day or two. After making a couple of 2 day trips with him ( Phoenix to Hayden Junction one day, back the next. ) even though they were fun at the time, that kind of made up my mind to look elsewhere for employment. He did it for 40 years, so I guess he liked it. Hang in there it will get better and remember supervisors are promoted to 1 level beyond their competence!!
Byron De Winton
Posted 08 August 2004 - 12:04 AM
Posted 08 August 2004 - 07:29 AM
But on the other hand I was riding in what used to be an Espee unit the other night on one of the many locals I have been on lately. I was the brakeman on this job and as such got to ride in the 2nd unit and take a nap if I so wanted. Instead I sat there hanging my head out the window, feeling the air rush through my hair at 10 mph, waving at the little kids as we passed through the local RR Station.
Everything about the whole night just seemed right, it is the best job I have had. Where else can I make a good paycheck sitting around and doing nothing (compared to driving a tow truck, this job requires me to do next to nothing).
I love it.
Posted 08 August 2004 - 11:07 PM
Posted 25 August 2004 - 11:59 AM
Hold on buddy, it'll get better. And, good job or no, don't let it hose up your marriage. Priorities, my friend, priorities.
Posted 26 August 2004 - 10:01 AM
But everything that Erik said is dead on.. it's a good job, you can sit around and do nothing for hours at a time.. we did that quite a few times waiting for a Z and Amtrak.
If you honestly think you can handle a railroad job, by all means, go for it. It is "easy" in it's own respect, that is, until something goes wrong, dispatcher screaming at you to get moving.
And in case your wondering how I managed to do this. Talked with a couple yardmasters and a general manager. I had to sign a mile high stack of documents, but I got to experience something that will always stick with me until I actually land the job. Also, why did I say I need to gain weight and body mass? Well, living in the Northwest, it rains.... a lot. It gets really cold in the Mountains.
If I get a job for BNSF.. I'm actually hoping I don't get qualified on Stampede Pass.. I would hate to be on that run, step out of the cab only to realize that it is -10 degrees and -30 when you factor in the wind chill and the entire locomotive, including the steps are iced over....
Posted 27 August 2004 - 03:20 PM
Posted 27 August 2004 - 11:01 PM
Posted 29 August 2004 - 09:11 AM
What part of the country are you going to be operating in ? I can't apply until november 21st here in Denver (that's when my 6 month re-apply is up). Hopefully 3rd time will be the charm! But I'm going to keep trying until I get it!!
Posted 30 August 2004 - 10:28 PM
Posted 06 September 2004 - 06:36 AM
Posted 06 September 2004 - 12:55 PM