n Bob Martin’s long-lost N&W line, there was one train that was mine. I’d dispatch all the way through the session (yeah, that seat was mine, too) but the last train, the long, long, overlong coal train was mine. I’d run it slow and easy, mindful of just how it bunched down through Irvine, easing it into the yard. Then I’d roll out, picking up speed on the long straight track along the back wall, making up time and hearing those little wheels clickity-clack. My train. Hands off.
Same thing on the TY&E. The sand and lumber train runs up to the loading yard up the way, picking up covered hoppers and empty flats (from one Raymond industry) and runs them down the sprawling Staffordtown industrial complex (where I service another Raymond industry – I have a monopolistic lock on an entire manufacturing chain, which is an odd thing for a liberal like me). I know this run like the back of my hand. I know he meets and moves. I just run it with a sloppy smile on my face.
Evidently, the TY&E management has a policy to not allow the evil weed of competence to root on their line. While other crews were fussing and dicking about, I was running my train by the book. And now I’ve been told that my wild and carefree employment on that run is at an end – I’ll be running something else (possibly a mop and bucket in the TY&E corporate offices) next time. It’s okay – I’ll just see what JW thinks when the the Raymond timber dock gets covered hoppers and the glassworks gets empty flats. I’ll laugh while the TY&E burns. I’ll even toast marshmallows.
The funny running gag of the night was the switch throws. Our experienced crews kept leaving them open (I mean, all up and down the line). And they made things worse when they tried to make things better. Two trains met and one crew opening the turnout for the opposing train. Of course, that crew, not knowing of the favor, normalized the turnout without looking and went onto the cinders as they left the siding.
“You never touch a turnout that isn’t yours,” I preached in the tone that makes me a pariah scab and results in a number of between-the-boxcar beatings I’ve suffered. “You only throw your turnouts. Being polite on a railroad is a sin.”
So the rest of the session, the crews told each other “I’m going to politely refuse to throw your turnout” and “That turnout is your own concern, and have a very nice day.”
I wonder if I’ll even be invited to the next session. And what train – a Toonerville Trolly, perhaps – I’m going to run. The future is in chaos. Just like JW’s railroad. And it was a lot of fun.