ust another day on the railroad. Ran the 940 rock run under great difficulty – a car on the team track, my trick siding packed to full, and a boxcar coming in and out. Yeah, it was a stumblefest. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get it worked. But the weather held off and soon I was ready to highball out – I just had to let about three trains, a railcar, and two trudging hobos get past before the DS would let me out. So that’s why I was an hour late.
That’s usually the most tricky turn on the pike so I thought it would be all downhill after that (and in flat-Florida, that’s saying a lot). But then I took the next train, 930, Cocoa to Titusville and back. How hard could it be?
So there I am under the hot tropical sun, my diesel idling, the heat shimmering off the ballast, the switchmen standing here and there near fry-an-egg-offa switch stands, everyone waiting for me to figure out what to do. Titusville “Yard” is a bit of an overstatement – an off-the-main industrial area with a short run-around track, maybe good for three short cars. And I’m on the wrong side of four; two long fifty footers, my outbound covered hopper and my caboose. I actually shut off my warning bell and stood there, looking up and down the yard as the clock ticked away, thinking this is bloody impossible!
Usually I can plot out a couple of moves ahead. I can see what I’ll have to move where to get the train untangled. But this time I didn’t see it. Just no way, outside of the humiliation of calling the DS and using the main and Market Street crossover for a very inefficient (and defeatist) run-around move. So I was moving cars this way and that, trying to get around all this mess.
The speaker: “930”.
930 (me): “…”
The engineers in the room: “Hey, 930, the dispatcher is calling you.!”
930 (still moving cars about, trying to untangle this mess while fumbling up the phone) “…um, yeah, 930 here.”
Dispatcher: “How soon before you can get out of town?”
930: (lying through my teeth): “Oh, maybe twenty, thirty minutes.”
Dispatcher: (Tells me about traffic stacking up, dire predictions, hinted threats, but I’m not really listening)
So I hung up the phone and moved a final car at random.
And there it was. Without seeing how I did it or how it worked (I still can’t figure it, given the track arrangement (and no, I did not pick cars up and move them around)) everything was suddenly in its place. I was sorted. I was ready. I could get outta town.
I called the dispatcher.
(well, actually, I got to wait ten minutes for another train to go by. But I did get to leave).
I still don’t know how that worked.