On Sheet – Peeps

On Sheet – Peeps

remember the moment my doctor told me I had cancer. I remember life being normal and then it was not.

The next two days I don’t remember at all.

And two weeks later, I had to dispatch our club layout. At the time I was the only dispatcher.

I seem to recall the guys running flawless. It was a good session. The goofs were minor and we worked around them. But I suspect that if someone did something stupid (it has happened) or back-talked me on the phones (this, also), I’d have lost my total freaking shit. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect I was on a short fuse.

That’s the thing. When you attend operations, you are dealing under some pressure, some discomfort, and some crowding with all sorts of people. Introverts rub shoulders with extroverts. Young engineers press interact with old pros. Rich and poor. Happy and sad. Casual and dedicated. No two people are alike and, in the effort of an ops session, the pressure can get to people.

I’ll quote a friend who told me this: “Some people are introverted while others are extroverts; some prefer solitude while others crave social interaction. Personality traits shape us into who we become and how we interact with other people.”

Yes, the dispatcher might be totally out to sea, delaying everyone. A guy might be idiotically running on your track and time. Someone might bring underpowered, untested engines which delay you. Someone might have a loud voice, smell bad, or be talking politics (I don’t care about your side – I’m there for trains, not what passes for civics).

I have lost my temper before. I remember an early TT&TO session where my passenger train got behind by thirty minutes. I was so focused on getting back on time nothing else mattered. I’d gained back five minutes at each station stop, fighting my way back to my timetable. And then a kid working as a yard assistant pushed a petroleum tank car out onto the main, right in front of me. Sure, he didn’t know what he was doing (he thought the yardmaster could order him to push the car onto the main, that the yardmaster had these rights). Looking down at my collided engine, I started to explain who had rights and he cut me off, explaining what he thought. I blew up at him. And we never saw him again.

That’s the thing. A big club (or home layout) has all walks of life, all levels of operation expertise, all manner of backstories and reasons. You never know who is going to bellow in frustration, stomp a derailing car into the ground or just walk out the door and never come back. So when you run, be gentle, be kind, be supportive, and know that everyone is operating under their own “nows”. If you want to be in a club where everyone does everything perfect, everything works flawlessly, and it all ends in smiles, you’ll have to wait until you get to Heaven and join their club.

It will be a bit longer for me. I beat that bastard cancer.


Yes, this caboose went off the rails one too many times and got stomped.