had a blog all ready to roll. It had to do with how people at clubs can be difficult, and talked about a recent fissure we suffered. There is also a club in town where a member got pissed, came back in with his key and tore out all the bridges he’d built. Yes, it was a nice angry blog about leaving with dignity (and not letting the door hit you in the ass).
But then we had a scratch ops session at the club Thanksgiving Eve.
Normally the guys like running under warrants. Track warrants tell you what to do and where to go. They are very easy. However, I like Time Table and Train Order. I haven’t gone into TT&TO in depth here yet (oh, but I will). Let’s just say that, in that system, the engineers have to use their brains and think way ahead to figure out where everyone will be. And running an extra (a train not on the schedule) is like being Tom Cruise wiggling around lasers in some spy movie. It’s tough to do and requires understanding that most operators are uncomfortable with.
But for our special Turkey Trot day, the guys gave in and did it.
We run on a full timetable this way, with all meets hard (unless both crews agree to another meet point). And without a dispatcher, it means I can run trains too.
So, my blog of the event (HERE) chatted about all the dangers we faced (especially when my ore train broke away on a stiff grade). But the thing was, I realized that for all the hiccups and goofs, I was running with a group of friends. I think that in a little way, they were humoring me and my love of TT&TO by running that system. Everyone stayed to the end and we ran a lot of extras.
That’s the thing (as we digest our Thanksgiving Turkey and count our blessings) – I’m a member of a great club with lots of people who are interested in trains and enjoy each other’s company. Sure, we’ve had riffs. But generally everyone works together on the various projects and supports each other. There are a lot of modelers who don’t have access to any club, or are members of a club that doesn’t operate. Sure, I had to build this club’s operations up from scratch, but we’ve been operating for twenty year now. And this club has gotten me in touch with so many other modelers/operators. Through it, I’m a regular at the West Virginia Northern, the Virginia South Western, the Pittsburgh and West Virginia, the Lehigh, Monongahela & Ohio (my club road), the Tuscarora Branch Line, the Cuesta Grade (when I return it to operations), the Tipton and Lake Erie, the WAZU (God knows what it stands for), the Florida East Coast and the Western Bay. I also need to start returning the La Mesa Club (in San Diego).
That represents a lot of people who invite me to their sessions. That’s a lot of friendships and a lot of support. So yes, every now and then, you are going to get a bad apple, someone who ticks you off. But for the most part, I’m thankful for all the fun running I’ve been a part of over the years.
If you are a lone wolf, look for clubs in your area. Sure, you’ll hear the stale old jokes over and over. People will get sick and die. They’ll borrow money and stiff you. They’ll leave turnouts open or talk politics when they should be talking shop. But yes, they’ll be there for you and you’ll get a lot of scale miles under your drivers.
So be thankful for your friends. Run trains. Respect their equipment. Help them when they derail and point out mistakes they are about to make. Listen when they talk and laugh at the jokes. And always run that extra train, if only to give the late runners someone to meet.
Have fun and be thankful for it!
Three trains wedging into a siding (with me just around the corner). In about five minutes from now, I’ll suffer that inopportune coupler failure. (Photo: John DeVasto)