y order of the dispatcher, I’d dismounted from my CSX switch engine and walked down the industrial siding. A flat car was being worked by a crew off a remote loading dock. Then an off-spot box car. And then the center of the crisis, an industrial loading dock. At it sat a boxcar and a reefer, the latter’s refrigerator engine running with nobody home to unload it. The Brotherhood of Knuckledraggers 107 had walked off the job. And worried about the time this car could run off it’s internal tanks, the railroad had set me down to check it out.
Stepping onto the dock (and watchful for any union headbreakers who might be prowling), I reconnoitered. Dipsticking the tank, I figured we had only a few hours left, and with the smoke-filled room bargaining, the brotherhood wouldn’t be back until tomorrow at the earliest. And that lead to my second order – if it couldn’t run all night, I’d have to take the car across the main to the team track and allow the scabs to unload it there.
The thing about the team track – with a good bat, I could smack a ball right across to it, easy. But the problem was that my current siding was a trailing point, and the team track facing (and sharing the siding with the fertilizer plant), and that meant a run around at Beaver Scrap Yard (and all the BS, trackage rights and interruption charges that entailed), followed by heaving indexing.
Zach had run the earlier shift on the switch and had a pretty clean run – the strike had occurred but that made his job easier. Me, I got the short end. While I had a turnout fail in Taft for two hours, I hadn’t been using it so the MOW boys had worked on their lonesomes. But now I had this Tarnation-Carnation reefer to shift, along with new arrivals. Speaking of which, the southbound freight was just pulling in. Shaking my head, I crossed over to where the road crew was swapping out my pre-spotted outbounds, setting out on a cleared arrival track and bitching about it.
And that’s when I learned that I had an additional tank car to spot at the chemical firm with all the inbounds. On the wrong end. Worked that first and then engaged in reefer madness.
Overall, I had five cars to push into a facing point (and as it turned out, four out of the five were in the wrong order, drastically so). I indexed out the cars on the main between passing southbounds, getting everything spotted by midnight.
But all I can think of is why management bent over backwards for their customers and overloaded their crews. Is this any way to run a railroad?
Maybe I should talk to my shop steward about our own strike.
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