hat’s the worst thing you can hear when you are a dispatcher on John Wilkes’ L&M?
Ha. No. No, it’s when you are hanging around at 10am waiting for your ride-guy to show up and you get a call from another person attending today’s session.
“Hey, Robert, where are you? We’re ready to start?”
Ready to start? Start time was 10am? I thought it was noon! And it’s in Polk City, something like forty miles away. We’re in Orlando and haven’t even hit the road yet!
What a way to not run a railroad.
So I called my ride-share and told him to step on it. When he arrived I was in the driveway, facing outbound, engine running, door open. And we hit it. I was doing 90 mph all the way out (save for some advice from someone to take the Polk City scenic route and view their wonderful collection of vintage traffic signals. We shoulda gone down the Polk Parkway).
Anyway, we arrived about an hour and change late. Came in and the Southern Dispatcher nearly threw his panel at me – “Take it! Take it!” So I slipped in next to Cody, who was running the L&N desk. And then I found out why the desk was opened for me. I spent the time before lunch fighting with the CTC panel (stands for “Computerized Terror Confusion”). No, the remote switch and signal software wasn’t running very well.
So after lunch, I got the SECOND worst thing a dispatcher can hear when Bob was trying to leave joint trackage and ran down the L&N line (as a Southern engine) and smashed head-on into a L&N F-unit, out innocently switching Cawood. Cody was beaming like a butthead since I’d seemingly couldn’t run a panel any better than I could tell time. But no, I’d switched the recently rebooted CTC system to the Southern Main, it showed that exact thing, but the turnout remained incorrectly set. Well, anyway, it wasn’t my fault but I’m going to miss Bob Martin’s jovial personality.
And so apparently Polk City decided to evoke a memorial lights-out for the fallen Southern engineer. And given his stature in the community, the memorial went on all afternoon. That’s right, the perfect session ended with a long power failure and everyone eventually drifted home.
One thing’s for sure – I seem to have a scorched earth policy of running a layout. I think Wilkes will be joining a monastery after this session. But you know what? Even with the late start / Polk City Grand Theft Auto, the crazy CTC panel, the explosion and the post-apocalyptic conclusion, I still had fun. Maybe John will invite me back. And maybe this time there will be an earthquake or a flood or something. Great fun! Really, I always love ops!