nother day on the Florida East Coast and since Ken and Bev were short, I was able to bring a couple of N-trakers along. With all these newbies (and long-aways) we were expecting a very chaotic session and in that, we were not disappointed.
Session started out great (from the moment I was assigned the dispatcher sheet). There were some wobbles early on as trains were delayed getting out of the yard (usually we sweep everyone out quick and make room for more but dial-up issues and throttle-chasing put us in the hole). After that, things settled down (or so we thought).
I’ll take some credit for showing pity on a new operator who didn’t check his paperwork and didn’t work trailing points along his route. When he got back to a passing siding, I gave him local turnout control and let him clean up his mistakes (against the superintendent’s wishes). Later I went in there and found that he was trying to move long cuts back and forth. Worse, the layout was bogging down all around him. Ken gave me that look (the one that melts lead) and said that that was what comes from a Dispatcher Weakness (lesson to me). Stinging from the earned rebuke, I told the guy to just grab up whatever cars he had and head for home – we’d clean up later.
Another N-member somehow decided that urgency and need outweighed CTC signal aspects. In this, he needed to pull well past the red signal to get into a spur. And so he did. Derails all down his train. And even after Superintendent Ken went in and cleaned things up, he did it again, five minutes later. By then, Ken’s glare was melting battleship steel. I hunched in my seat and kept traffic moving.
And, to that unnamed operator, you and I are going to have a discussion about arguing with the superintendent. Or maybe not. I’ve I’m not invited back, I guess it’s a moot point.
But even the old sweats were making mistakes. I caught myself running the coal drag to the power plant down the wrong track and had to back him up – woops. But then I also noted on my lineup sheet that a local out of Cocoa Yard was three hours overdue. Called the crew overhead – nothing. Finally Ken and I went looking for the lug with the orders in his pocket. Nobody had it. And it wasn’t in the slots. As we started back for the yard shed, I noticed a card in Ken’s own breast pocket. “Hey, is that…?” Yeah, Ken pulled out the missing card for 630, one that an operator who stood us up had not been there to receive. So, yes, if Ken goofs up, it’s the end of the world.
Still, we managed to get most of the trains run by the 5pm cutoff time. And the crews seemed to settle down finally – hopefully if we have slots to fill, my newbies will do better (now that they know how to check their paperwork and what a red signal looks like). So we’ll see in January (unless Ken just burns the sheds down and is done with it).
Oddly, I found myself with a scratchy throat going home. It turned into an overnight cold that was largely gone by morning. I’m surprised since we were in masks pretty much the entire time. Could have been a cookie or all that masked-screaming-at-engineers I did. I don’t know. I’m putting this out just so the crews are aware of it.
But thanks to Ken and Bev for hosting what was (to me) another great session!