‘m suffering survivors’ guilt right now.
See, we ran on Chris Strecker’s CSX Taft railroad, a small two man pike with two jobs – the guy running the freights and the other running the local switcher (stationed at Orlando’s Taft Yard). The crews work their jobs for the first half-day (twelve slow laps of the freight, with drop-work done enroute). And the local, he preps up outbound cars and spots in dropped inbounds. Then you swap jobs.
In theory, under the law of averages, in game-science, the crews should face the same amount of effort. Should. That’s the operative word.
Chris started out with the local. I did my laps, dropping off my cuts, picking some up and helping out as a brakeman for his long-reach operations. And everything sucked for him. At one point, he was going to use Beaver Junk Yard (run by old man Beaver, who bills the railroad every time you use it to run around) but a random event card locked it down – it couldn’t be used for three hours. The car locations, the switching arrangements, the order of cars on the spurs, everything was worst-case. I really felt bad. Well, yes, I guess for Chris. But I really felt bad for myself. It was quickly coming up to be my turn at bat.
And of course, as soon as I took over, the clouds parted, the skies shimmered, and happy unicorns crapped on my pointy elf shoes. Every logical problem had a clear solution (most of them were easy). I never had to run around once. When I had to pull cars off the trains, they couldn’t have been better arranged if I’d blocked them myself. I was done early, leaving Chris to drill around the layout while I chatted about nonsense.
I was thinking about it on the way home, how the same job on a railroad can, in one run, be as easy as putting your shoes away, and then next, it’s a Rubik’s Cube of frustration, with every car on the wrong end of the engine, every spot location buried behind other cars, a nightmare of laborious effort while time runs quickly down and those watching you smirk as they exchange knowing looks.
In a way, railroad operations are a simulation of the real world. Just not quite in the literal manner.
Poor Chris. What a mess.