The problem with operations on a huge model railroad is, well, operations on a huge model railroad.
It takes 15 people to run this thing. We might be able to double a couple of jobs but it takes some juggling. So I was already feeling like we might be understaffed when my dispatcher called in sick. Then another guy canceled. Got to dinner tonight and there were only three other guys at the table (some ops night there are a dozen). I was figuring we might manage a reduced session, or mother-may-I, or just sit around and yack.
So the four of us walk into the club and look over this huge room-filling layout.
“Okay, so?” someone said.
“So,” I answered, “we clean.”
So we started, just because. Came out from doing staging and a couple more guys came in. Working around a curve and there was another guy. A couple of old members I hadn’t expected. A drift by the sign-up sheet showed the jobs filling up fast. Heartened, I went back to the office and fired up my dispatching software, put on the headsets and brought the fast-clock up. Checked the phones. Check. Check. Everything in order.
“Are we ready to go?” I phoned.
“We’re waiting on you.”
“Clock is hot.”
And the thing is, with guys who have been operating for years, with a fun train-control system, with a clean layout, with everyone on the ball and happy to be there, it was a delight. The passenger trains hummed across the division on time. The coal train ran down to Calypso and turned for the run back. The yard was sharp as a tack. Crews finished one job and jumped on the next. At the end, we all just looked at each other, smiling like dopes.
Great session. Thanks, guys.