hey say railroads, like any other slumbering beast, arise slowly.
The SP/SF Joint Line across the summit at Tehachapi came awake like a mean drunk, cursing and swinging and then puking into a bucket.
My job should have been easy – I picked up Extra 167, four Santa Fe F’s idling at the famous loop at Walong, a caboose coupled on for no reason I could discern. Anyway, I was looking at two facing trains, both sections of 802, one nailed down at Cliff, the other at Bena (I had rights over both across the line). Should have been an easy run.
But then the dispatcher came in and messed with me. As it was, I rolled down through Woodford and got a green board at the station, so on to Rowen. Got there just as the Woodford operator chased me down on a handcart. “Come back to Woodford for orders.” Eh? So there I was, backing up along the mainline, the caboose (now on the head end) airing out nicely.
There, the operator ground out four new orders for me, including more orders to physically hand the crew at 802-2 holding at Cliff. Fine. So I looked at the orders and what I realized was:
1) I was to go to Cliff and give 802-2 orders
2) One of my orders told 802-2 to meet me at Woodford (where I was currently sitting)
So, the moment I handed the orders across, I would be busted for running ahead of my meet. It was, evidently, a trap.
I looked at the station operator and showed it to him. Like, WTF? He blinked. Yes, WTF indeed. So he called the dispatcher and picked up another order, putting my meet back to Cliff. Just so we’re effing clear on this.
Once again I rolled down to the lonely siding at Rowen. Waited there for the unlikely appearance of 804, now due. After ten minutes someone walked by. “The dispatcher would like you to ring him on the callbox phone.” What now? Picked up the phone and that’s how I found myself writing my own order to myself, giving rights to advance against 804 so I could save the helpless 802-2.
Nice run. I handled four diesles and a crummy and got paid as a station operator for the day. Good work if you can find it.
Got into Bakersfield, noted my passage in the register book and proceeded Goshen Junction where I got caught in a range war / wienie measuring contest between BNSF Bakersfield and the Goshen engine house. But that’s another story…