o, the long drive home. Great op session on the Florida East Coast – so good I’m not sure what to comment on. I’d run 920 through Palm Bay to Pinetta, quietly doing my work and advising the dispatcher of what I’d do next so she could set mainline turnouts my way. Even that detector I’d hit was a methodical fix – dropped the car into the closest and most efficient siding and then…
That’s when, at Crystal Lake offramp, I almost got creamed.
To get off westbound 408 here, you need to merge across two lanes of onramp, with cars winding up from a brief stop at the toll plaza. Usually they are putting along at 45mph, not accelerating to freeway speed. I checked my right mirror and rearview. Nothing. But there was a guy coming up the far right quickly, shadowing my blindspot and not caring that I had a right signal flashing and was coming over.
When he buzzed down my right side, 10mph faster then me and seemingly out of nowhere, I started in my seat. Gah! My ease-right shift following a perfect day of doing just about everything right ended with me jerking the wheel left and opening distance. I’d simply not seen him in my blind spot and had not fully scanned.
And that made me think about my session. The point of ops is to move smoothly and elegantly through your various jobs, making the outcome better than expected. You might help another crew with a difficult-to-reach turnout or uncoupling. You might phrase your call to the dispatcher with more than what you need – perhaps noting an arriving train or denoting the correct track you’ll need at your next destination. And for me, the day had been perfect. I’d realigned every turnout, I’d spotted every car, I’d run 920 and 105 the way they were intended to be run. I didn’t bug the superintenant once, or cause the dispatcher to have to ask something a second time. I even blew at every crossing, broke my train when parked across a road, handled the bad order by-the-book and even latched onto and towed in a disabled car left by another train.
Hey, I’ve been operating for three decades. But I’ve been driving for four. And I still got jumped by a hot head in my blind spot.
Looks like there is always room for improvement.
Look for more ops logs (with more humiliating stories) to follow.
(one thing I did do wrong – the dispatcher called for 920. I listened to two calls for this train, then turned and addressed the others in the room. “Which of you is 920?” Everyone shrugged. They told me their train numbers. “Someone’s gotta be 920!” Then Ken walked up. “Aren’t you 920?” I blinked. “Oh yeah, I guess I am…”)