ometimes you have ops sessions that make you want to slink away and take up stamp collecting…
Sometimes you have ops that you want to lacquer up and hang on the wall, and just lean back in your easy chair and look at them, preferably smoking a big fat cigar.
Yeah, today’s run of the FEC was one of those days.
Man, did we have fun!
I ran the panel and was feeling so comfortable with it, I wasn’t looking at the in-out cheat-sheet, but actually working the yard throat panel logically. We had everything moving including a rail inspection car that Ken had tossed in there as a spoiler. I had to putter it about off warrants, like a little mouse under foot. But no troubles; the freight was moving and everything was getting done.
I have to hand it to the crew – everyone was on top form today. The yard (working behind my chair) were lining them up and sucking them in. At one point I had four trains (two in Palm Bay, two in Titusville) honking to get in. I’d roll them in and Mrs Bev would grab the train as soon as the crew dropped it off, pulling it into the yard and breaking it quicker than a new IPhone screen. The rest of the yard, from Yard Master on down, had trains lining up to leave. One would go out and another index card would be placed on my desk – the next departure was queued up and ready to rumble.
Out in the other shed, the road crews were running top notch. Of course, I couldn’t how it really went out there – for all I know, Ken was laying about with a bullwhip. But crews would pick up when I called, they’d wait for their signals, and best – those that switched moved through their tasks briskly, freeing up the main.
For me, the funniest moment came when I lined up (early on) for a three train meet at Palm Bay. Ken said, “Are you sure you can handle this?” (a reference to an earlier blog). I heard people laughing but under CTC this sort of thing is easy to do and slicker than snot. I did three ways, I had trains overtake each other, and I even ran a four by at Pineda, pretty as a picture.
If there was one problem today, it was that we were running too fast. For a while, we were pretty much dead on the dot. But then trains started getting to their destinations earlier then scheduled. I tried to hold people in holes for a bit, but it seemed silly to make an entire room of engineers wait. After four and a half hours, we were off the bottom of the run sheets and running through the extras roster.
Afterwards, everyone just sat in the crew lounge and glowed. You know its a great session when nobody gets slapped in the face with a glove afterwards. No, everyone was smiling and as far as I could tell we were all grooving on a job well done.
So it was a blast. Thanks again to Ken and Bev for the invite, and to the crews for putting up with my toggle-tossing antics. Great fun!