hat could be better on a perfect Saturday than a nice drive through the country? To spend time with two good long-term friends? To hang out with a group of other friends? And be boomers on the wonderful Florida East Coast?
Doesn’t get better, as they say.
I ran an early train, picking up a run in Frontenac to bring home to Jacksonville – easy run, green boards, no hassles. Just horning across the grade crossings and enjoying the run.
The next bit was a little more difficult. Taxied back to Cocoa Yard by 10am to mount up on unit 619 to run a cut of locals over to Buenaventura to spot, and scoop up some cars listed. A little inital confusion finding a likely reefer to take until I found a car marked “REFRIGERATED SERVICE” on the side – yeah, that would do. So down we went, easing in, swapping up, building a cut. Manager Ken has backed this job down a bit so it’s not the Rubik’s cube it once was (thank goodness I didn’t need to move those pain-in-the-ass hoppers from the limestone facility over to the team track – that was a job-task not missed). So it was good clean switching while trains rolled by. Lots to see and do. And when I was done, the second-trick dispatcher gave me rights back up. It would have been a perfect day to enjoy the scenery on the way back, but you have all the scenic vista of a torpedo tube on the ascending helix – still, I could watch other people trip the detector across the aisle and laugh, har har. Payback is hell, of course, as I would learn.
I scooped up one of the last trains to finish my dance card – 190/191. (I think that was the number plate). Rolled up from Miami to Buenaventura to pick up those same hoppers I’d been so thankful not to move. Neat little switching job, spot the inbounds, tug out the outbounds, run ’round the train and then call for signals home. Rolling along thinking of movie night with Greg and what we might watch. Rolled through the detector near Melbourne and held my breath. It stayed inert. Perfect. “Made it,” I boasted. “Made it.”
Ahead of me, the signal dropped. The automated detector had picked up a defect in my string. Everyone (having heard my earlier laughs) now laughed best. Dammit.
Turns out the second hopper back had a hotbox. Called the dispatcher and told him where he’d find it. Rolled down to Palm Bay and pushed Squeaky the Red Hopper into the RDA siding, pushing it way down against the bumper to not block access to the facility (bit of an argument about blue flags here – did it mean to not touch the car or not use the siding? I think (since the other guy was a railroader of 35 years) I was wrong).
Once that was tucked away, I looked over to find the green board waiting to take me into staging – the dispatcher had read my mind (about the ready-to-come-home bit, not the why-can’t-FEC-run-better-equipment bit). Finished up, got my time-out information, finished the paperwork and then went in to snag one of the last donuts. Great day. And now it was movie night!
Thanks Ken and his group for letting me and my boomers come and run!