itting in Palm Bay on a hot Florida day, up in the cab of 208 (a through freight with a sprinkling of setouts), looking at a red board.
Not going anywhere.
Turns out a train up the line in Melbourne has tripped the new automatic detector, identifying something dragging, hanging, or on fire. So his conductor is out walking the train. And for the thirty minutes that takes, we’re waiting for the line to clear.
Finally, finally, finally I see blue boxy engines pushing through the heat simmer, running south towards me. I nod to the crew of the delayed train as it goes by. And then more waiting as a second delayed southbound comes through, running the yellows on the tail of the defect-thrower. Finally the line is clear. I notch up and start rolling, 45 minutes in the hole but making up time. A quick stop to pick up a reefer at Melbourne. Then I’m around the long curve, horning across the grade crossing and cutting under the detectors, heading for Eau Gallie and further, to the siding I’ll drop some ballast cars on, to the red light ahead…
I knock the throttle back to neutral and apply heavy brakes, bringing my train to a stop before the red board. A call to the dispatcher.
“You’re dragging something. The detector picked it up.”
“Oh, you gotta be kidding.”
But he isn’t. I start filling out the new paperwork with the train phone under my chin, telling Smitty in the caboose to get out in the superheated air and walk the train, looking for something hanging off. About thirty minutes later, he calls back.
“Looks like on of the timbers on the flat shook loose from its banding. We tucked it back aboard. Ready to go.”
I call the DS back. I’m not happy that the new device actually found something wrong. Now I’m really running late and all down the line, I can hear trains north of Cocoa Yard bitching, wondering where I’m at.
And I still have work along the way to perform. And all because of that board shook loose. What a way to run a railroad.
p.s Ol’ Bob, my buddy, managed to run a red signal, forgot to drop off one car, and nearly left half a train-length behind at Cocoa yard.
p.s.s. I did leave a turnout open by accident. And I did eat a donut. Somehow he thinks these are equivalent.