here is a trick in writing, the foreshadowing of innocence. You want to hint at something terrible occurring, start it off with something happy and innocent. Examples: happy passengers at the rail of the Titanic or dutiful shopkeepers in the market of Pompei. Something like that.
So I was standing on the cinders of Martin Yard in the shadow of my idling GP-9s, feeling good. My original plan was to work the Weirton Coal Docks. But seeing my friend Craig lashing up a heavy intermodal cut behind his Espee cabforward filled me with doubt. There was no way he was going to get that cut to the summit at Harris with steam. So I told him I’d insert my units as mid-train helpers and boost him up the hill.
Fun ride. We rolled out into the main just as the Silver Bullet was slipping into Martin Station, dead on time. It was very fun doing operations and watching various trains do their various things. So up the hill we went, easing past one downhill freight, pushing through the Red Rock tunnel, growling through the wooded slope below Hidden Valley. Eventually we reached the summit and I dropped out of the string, easing over to the station track. Reached over, picked up a phone, and turned to look over the room.
Everyone was on phones. Silently. No trains were moving.
Bad night for the dispatcher. He had a lot of extras and with Calypso yard not in service (because we were routing past it with our new experimental freight forwarding system) trains were bunching up. Eventually the staging yards emptied out and more trains came on division and no trains completed. The railroad was grinding to a halt. It was a total transport disaster.
Just has our unnamed (to protect the innocent) dispatcher was having a bad night, Cody (who took over) had a great one. Cody told me that when he asked if the guy wanted to clock out, there was a pop as air rushed into the hole in space he’d occupied. Cody threw himself at the panel, parading the trains over the summit. And finally, eleven hours after I’d arrived at Harris Glen, I was ordered onto the front of a homebound train (supposedly to provide additional braking but, really, we all know it was a paperwork dodge). So, in the end, we got the railroad put back away, mostly run. And better, we found that the new paperwork method worked really well, better then we could have expected.
For me, it was a great session. I got to watch some cool rail action (like three trains climbing east up the long grade to Harris). I’m hoping everyone had a great time. I know I did. And – whew – the new paperwork was just perfect.