o now I know what having a stroke is like.
Usual session. Everyone came. We cleaned. Trains went on the rails. People signed up. In the back office I booted my computer and readied the fast clock. Odd, it booted up at 15:1. Normally the club runs at 10:1. That was a problem a few years back but I easily corrected it. And then it was hot, and then we were running.
Just like a chess game. 202 went into the siding at Zanesville as it had for at least a hundred times. Silver Bullet 2 stormed by on the main. Behind the pair, coal drag 414 rolled out. We managed to get Harris Glen Local up the hill to do its work before things topside got hot. When you’ve dispatched as much as I have, you can run this pike by rote. No sweat.
About ten minutes into the session I got a line error on the clock. No problem – I fiddled with it and got it back. Since I was in the middle of writing warrants, I didn’t give it a second thought. We had a lot of extras out so my hands were occupied, kicking warrants out briskly.
I can’t think about to where it all went wrong. I could sense things building around Harris Glen. But this time it was worse than normal. The 6am freights were out. The Silver Bullets were heading towards their summit meet. But now suddenly it’s climbing towards noon. I’ve got even more trains out. And before I knew it there were too many trains on the mountain; three eastbounds, an unprecedented five westbounds, and at the summit two helper sets and a local wanting down. And this doesn’t include the rest of the railroad where everything was buzzing about.
Seriously, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I’ve never had so many crews waiting on sidings. I wanted to sob how it wasn’t fair. I couldn’t think back and see any point I’d goofed up. Everything had been by the book.
And now I could hear the crews laughing at my discomfort. Humiliating! I did everything I could to move trains, fleeting them across the summit in fast parades (which is mathematically more efficient than exchanging directions on each one). That helped but even as I cleared that set, more took their places. This was hell, a literal hell where a skill you had is suddenly lost. I couldn’t do this anymore.
And finally it was over. Four freights rolled off the railroad. A local was still out and the helpers finally rolled down to refuel in their houses. I just leaned back in my chair and gasped. I felt like I’d been hit in the head with a brick.
And in the real world, it was 9:40pm.
That made me blink. Normally we run a 2.5 hour session and finish about 10:20pm or so. But this was early, way early. Frowning, I checked the clock.
Well, bugger me! When we got that line error in the early part of the session the clock seemed to have shifted back to the faster setting. This meant that trains were entering the railroad at a higher rate. And with all the extras we were running we were now at capacity and beyond. Even the people who’d waited twelve hours for a warrant realized that it was sure a quick twelve hours.
What a nightmare it was. I’m sitting here writing this, just beat.
I guess if you are going to count chickens before they hatch, don’t count rapid-fast. Shit.