OpsLog – WAZU – 6/16/2024

OpsLog – WAZU – 6/16/2024

kay, so I head-oned a train today. Yup, I admit it.

I was trying to run the lumberjack and got a little distracted. I was trying to meet a train at Cheney, worried about getting out of his way since his engine had a camera taped on the nose and the operator was in the other room, doing a good job of looking like a misguided torpedo as he raced towards the fouling point I was still crossing. My entry was jarring, what with the short detector buzzing at crotch level, and the chorus of “Who’s on a switch!” rising from a half-dozen throats. I had to close the turnout behind me as I cleared and that meant (a) finding where the lever was and (b) identifying who was standing in front of it and (c) asking them to throw it for me. Meanwhile, the half-dozen turns were calling to each other like bargemen, asking where various industries were. Superintendent Doc was rushing about in hysterics, trying to put out a dozen fires (almost literally). The dispatcher’s voice was coming through a dozen radios and when nobody answered, he’d boom his request through the amp speaker. It was pure pandemonium (which is actually a city in Hell, which I think is somewhere in Doc’s spaghetti bowl somewhere). So in all that confusion, I told the dispatcher (in and around all the other calls, including some daft children playing grab-ass games on our frequency) that I was on the siding at Cheney. Got cleared to Spokane after meeting someone here. Well, I’d met someone here and so off I went.

Turns out it was the second train I was supposed to meet.

Sheepish backed-up to Cheney.

I’ll mention that, in this total confusion, having to remember a who and where together is tough. Let’s put you in the steel drum of a marimba band and bang on it while you work out the 12-times table. Good luck.

So, yes,this pretty much was the body of the session.

Happily, I was more careful following this and did not cause any more crashes – but there were plenty. Saw two happen and heard about another couple. And since, as mentioned, we had two operators in the next room over, running trains remotely off nose-cams in front of a mission-control bank of monitors (there are eighteen cameras mounted in the layout room), it struck me as amazing that guys literally looking out the front window of their trains could still smash into stopped trains.

Nobody had the heart to tell the remote Amtrak trains that they were dinky (Photo: Kyle S)

Someone did not take the siding. Another crash up the WAZU (Photo: Dan L, who possibly was involved in this one)

What a day.

With three inches of clearance, I could not uncouple my local until the rolling coal rolled off (Photo: Dan L)

Oh, there were good things. I got to run a local (one of the Amtraks got stuck behind it and the dispatcher was booming the room for a crew to staff it). Ran to Walla Walla and switched it out toot-sweet. Tried to head back and for the second time in a week got yelled at by a dispatcher for moving a train too early (like “too early” even applied to this session). But switching was fun, as were the five trains I handled. Enjoyed the group banter, the raw confusion yet purpose of the event. Even when the layout crashed hard, we stuck with it and got it running again in timeless fashion (i.e. the clocks were now offline). But in all this sinking-submarine Chinese-fire-drill insanity, the club stuck to it and ran the session through to its conclusion. Or confusion. Something like that.

The pizza was good, too.

Still, I guess it is now known that I am David Banner and the crazy confusion of the session set off my inner Hulk. I broke off an entire switch panel with my wedding band (apparently it was held on with tiny screws through aged plastic) and had a desk crack under me as I slumped on it (crummy IKEA crap). Hulk Smash.

Even the superintendent had a go, derailing a coal train and walking off (Photo: Dan L)

I think I’ll go back to dispatching. While Zach was nice enough to let me run trains, it was more like the running of the bulls in Pamplona (including the goring and, of course, the bullshit). Too much for me. I’ll go back to handling unstable explosives*.


* Is this a personalization?

P.S. Just thought of the session today with this Terry Perry Pratchett line: “The four lesser apocalyptical horsemen pf Panic, Bewilderment, Ignorance, and Shouting took control of the room…”

The guys coping around the center peninsula. (Photo: Dan L)