very time I drive to Ken Farnham’s Florida East Coast railroad, something happens on the trip. Once, a ladder came off a truck in front of us, spinning and sparking along the road like some giant spin-the-bottle game. Then there was the truck tire that blew up like a bomb right in front of us. This time, a four foot long stuffed fish toy (yeah, read that again) came off a pickup and rolled down the passing stripe. There wasn’t much room (barriers on either side of the road, so no runoff). While everyone else braked, I tucked my tiny car over to the railing and zipped past it. Amazing.
Something else that always happens in ops – in the session following any one I dispatch, I always feel a vague sense of relief when the DS screws up and it wasn’t me. Ken’s road is a monster to operate – you have to roll the chair back and forth to reach all the controls. And it always takes a while to get into the swing of things. And while today’s dispatcher did well enough (we’ve had truly frightening days), I got sent down the wrong staging exit twice (for my only two trains). And I had a turnout throw right under my fuel tank. And a couple of other little things. But hey, I’m not complaining. Dispatching at Ken’s is rather like skydiving. Freaky-scary while you plummet through the session, then all smiles and accolades once the session ends. And the next session, quiet nods at how you would have handled something.
Because if there is something all operators share, it’s the sense that the moves the dispatcher should have made for trains was blindingly obvious. When not faced with a huge wall of buttons and toggles, it makes perfect sense.
Now what’s going to fall off a truck for the October session?