n our last post, we discussed (well, I presented and you read) about how important it was to be a good guest. You’ll remember it in Duties of the Guest.
A cynical view might be – why? Why bother making someone else’s layout a success? Isn’t the point of this to just have fun, and if it’s going to be like a monastery on a rainy Saturday, why bother?
Well, it comes down to this – do you like running trains? Do you like going to different layouts?
If the answer is YES, then that’s the reason you go above and beyond.
If you are in it for you, if you just run trains because you want to be entertained, then sure, go ahead and be a lump.
But layout owners talk. Clubs are prone to gossip and owners chat at get-togethers and conventions. If you just “showed up” then you won’t get mentioned at all. And if you acted like a wanker, you will get mentioned – poorly. I know of various people (some of them friends) who are on the B-list on several layouts because of scenes they created or equipment they carelessly broke. The B-list, if you have to ask, is the “alternative list” most owners keep – this is the pool of operators you’ll pull from if you are short of A-listers and chalking a pentagram under the layout doesn’t fill the roster. If you are on the B-list, you’ll be on the cold-day-in-Hell seating.
I’ve actually been on the B-list on two layouts. One because my ride-guy pissed off the owner, we were B-listed as a matched set. The other was because the owner had a feeling about me – not everyone will like you the first time you meet. And on both, after two years or so on the B-lists, I managed to get a desperate re-invite and did all I could to prove myself. Yes, bootlicking at its finest, perhaps, but now I get monthly invites.
Even though Florida doesn’t have as many layouts as some of those hot-bed cities, I’ve on the invites for the LM&O, the WAZU, the CSX–Taft, the TY&E, the NH Highland, the FEC, the WBRR, the P&WV, the VSW, and the WVN. I also get invites from several group mailing lists and the other two local clubs. Occasionally I’ll hit one of these. I’ve even gotten offers from a group of live-steamers who operate (I’m afraid to rub that lamp – what if I really like it?) And I’ve done La Mesa in San Diego (massive TT&TO operations on a museum-sized layout) for years.
I just went back through my blog postings – last year I hosted or attended 49 operation sessions. That’s pretty good in a year with covid wind-down, cancer surgery and two hurricanes. On average, that was a session a week (though I did have some double-headers). This year, in March, I’ve got ops on three consecutive days.
So yes, I do my best. And yes, it pays off.
Run trains like your hobby life depends on it. Stay focused, stay sharp, stay on the ball, and stay polite.
And soon your dance card will be full!
Next week – a tragic realization on the Tuscarora (A TT&TO dilemma)