OpsLog – LM&O – 11/23/2011

OpsLog – LM&O – 11/23/2011

I’ve had the grim distinction of being audited by Earnest and Young for Sarbanes Oxley compliance. Pretty much every changed line of workplace software code needs review signatures and unit tests. And here I was, sitting with my boss while E&Y scowled over the phone at us, realizing we didn’t have any testing at all on a change we’d made.

Blood in the water…

Image my relief when closer examination showed a note from myself to the coder, clearly saying, “Close after attaching test cases”. And what did he do? He just closed it. Suddenly the eye of Sauron swung from me to the errant coder and I was in the clear.

Had the same feeling tonight while dispatching. Even with the coming holiday, traffic was hot across the Harris Glen summit. Silver Bullet 2 was running fast, trying to make up lost time due to power problems in Cincinnati. To the east, I was pocketing all traffic to open his route. And the Pittsburgh valley was filling three deep with trains waiting it try the climb. Busy, busy.

But the dispatcher’s office is still close to the ops room, and sound does carry, especially a surprised cry of “I’ve got headlights in front of me!”

Holy crap! Have I issued an order that sent two trains against each other? Did I overlap authority?

In the real world, if something like that happened you’d be pulled immediately from the desk to face an NTSB review. Here, we play on. So the headset is chattering and I’m batting out orders as fast as the warrants run out, keeping them moving while feeling my gut tighten. Did I make a mistake?

Then an engineer comes in and starts shifting through my warrant sheets looking back through my prior orders. He pauses. His finger traces a train, a location. Silently I watch that damning finger slide down the long order form, checking, checking. Then it pauses at Checkbox 8  Not in effect until the arrival of ______. And there is the checkbox, and there is a train listed. The engineer looks down at me, nods, and says, “It wasn’t your fault.”