ne of the ways to tell the difference between casual operators and intense operations is how they handle getting stuck in a hole (or a siding) for a long period of time. At La Mesa (in San Diego), it’s not unheard of to get locked in the box for five (real) hours. It’s happened to me, and guess what – that’s railroading.
Wasn’t thinking that when I rolled out of Cocoa Beach at the controls of Train 930, a short (really – no cars) train that does sweep up work to Titusville and ducks into the small industrial yard there to switch before running home. The run itself was easy – picked up a tank car off the Citgo Park off-spot track (I knew it was going to a paint shop but all there were there were food tank cars, so what are you going to do? We’ll have to stick a postit note on it to wash it out really good after using it). So I scooped that up, got past a train at Frontenac and into Titusville. No problems there – you switch downtown across several grade crossings, and since I need to blow twice for moving forward, three times for backing, and long-long-short-long for grade crossings, I was blowing my pipes like a Scotsman. Got everything switched out, turned the engine and caboose around and called for clearance south to Cocoa.
“Negative, 930. I’ll need to hold you for train umpty-ump.”
I got it. With my work done and no revenue hanging off my back coupler, I was low man on the totem pole.
Once train umpty-ump arrived, I reported it to the dispatcher. I was told that I needed to hold for another train.
Time passed. That train went by. Called and was held for a third.
Eventually that train arrived, but there were two trains in Frontenac, one of them juking about switching so I wasn’t getting out. The guys around me were joking that I’d probably left the engine and gone to get dinner and maybe watch a movie. Ended up chatting with some friends, swapping train stories. Time passed. I kept one eye on the traffic and saw that eventually it was a good time to call.
The dispatcher sounded surprised. “You shoulda told me you were there! I forgot about you!”
Still, it got me out of the industrial trackage and onto the siding.I was siting next to a train, cab by cab, both facing reds. Finally he got a green. Then the facing traffic got the green. And finally, after every train within miles was cleared, I hit a green board and got a straight run to Cocoa.
Low man on the totem pole.
But still, way lots of fun!
>>>I EVEN TALKED TO ONE GUY WHO ENJOYED “EARLY RETYRMENT”. WE CHATTED ABOUT IT. NOT MANY ENGINEER’S CAN TALK UP A BOOK WHILE HOLDING AT A RED. SEE WHAT THE MAGIC IS ABOUT. CLICK THROUGH TO SEE MY BOOKS FOR SALE!<<<