ometimes sessions run so well, everything checkboxes through their timetables, every car is spotted at correct doors, everything is perfect. Sometimes.
The first running of the Florida East Coast for 2020 was a little day-after-New-Years-ish. Crews were well meaning but sloppy. We had a number of run signals and missed calls. Yeah, and just so everything doesn’t think I’m just casting stones out, on the panel that day I managed two big blunders – dropped a train on the cinders on a miss-aligned turnout in the yard (but, in my defense, greens means go now, Charlie) and I had to back a freight up to City Point to let a rock train get in.
What made me note this was Missus Dispatcher, better known by her royal name as Lady Yardmaster. She managed to get two train slips mixed up and gave me them in the wrong order. In that, i listed them incorrectly in the books and when the crews called I got their information a little backwards at first. Things were eventually worked out (we caught it when I confirmed engine numbers) and some
crossouts fixed the books and communications but it kinda broke the back of her spirit, that bungle. She berated herself for the rest of the session and lost a bit of her confidence.
We ended up going to dinner with a train-ops buddy a little further down the road after the session and, of course, the conversation around the table was great operation bungles of our pasts. I could see my wife listening to some of our colossal screwups from our railroading history (like that RPO cockup) and feeling maybe just a little better.
That’s operations (if you are well-meaning) – sure, you make mistakes. But the usual playout on this is to do a little self-chiding and then make a conscious effort to improve. Sure, I know the guys who can dump a locomotive into the roundtable pit every session. But if they are at least trying to do better, that’s the sign of a person the superintendent might invite back.
So, hopefully Ken and Bev will invite the two of us lunkheads back in February. Watch this space to find out.