OpsLog – WVN – 11/11/2023

OpsLog – WVN – 11/11/2023

on a golden ticket to run over on the Komar’s wonderful West Virginia Northern. Unfortunately, the night before the session I got a call from my rider – he was running a fever. A quick call to the Komars resulted in his ticket getting revoked and me facing the long solo drive to Tampa in my old aging beater. I mentioned that, if we were short, I could bring my wife instead. They thought they kinda said “Yes”, I thought they said “No” (after all, she is literally a frog in my pocket in ops, not adding to head-count). So when I showed up, they had her name tag out and were annoyed that I didn’t bring her. That’s okay. I’d infuriate them by the time the session concluded (heck, they’d be all frowns by lunchtime).

The thing is, when I showed up missing one guy, they told me that another person had dropped for medical reasons that morning so we were TWO down (which explains the “Where the $*%@ is your wife?” response). So we’d be running under emergency staffing, meaning Gail would run (as always) and Greg would be pressed into service (rather than his usual wandering wise-acreing). And me, I’d be trying the trick I’d done two years ago – Ashbury West-End everything (hostler and switcher).

Side note – on the way home, the radio played “West End Girls” and I had to laugh. But I wasn’t laughing during morning ops.

While Switcher Reid works the East-End in the foreground, Switcher Raymond and Hostler Raymond gnaw their collective fingernails over what to do next (Photo: Greg K)

So I had two throttles and a sound track. I rushed through both jobs and made enough mistakes to fill a blog (just not this one). I wasn’t thinking ahead and found myself making double runs up the yard ladder when I could have done two trips as one logical push. And my classification was for shit. Later on, I heard one of the local engineers of the train I built arguing with the afternoon yard master about the blocking of his train. “Blame the morning switcher” he was told. Don’t you love people bad-mouthing your rushed, crummy work? Takes me back to my entire career.

For lunch, over one of Gail’s fine meals, I figured since religion and politics are usually off the table, I’d talk about my views on model train manufacturers and about earning Master Model Railroad awards. I was so charismatic that it’s a miracle nobody stuck me in the eye with a plastic fork. Possibly I was drunk on coffee. I was a bit of a butthead about it. Apologies all around.

In the afternoon, someone took my Ashbury jobs away so I just went onto the road crew. With the manpower shortage, I got to run lots of trains (a general freight, a passenger train and two coal trains). After all that back-n-forthing all morning, it was nice to ring the bell, blow the whistle and chug through amazing scenery. Of course, I decided that my bombastic behavior was not quite done so I had a long, pointless argument with someone about reefer movements running as actual scheduled trains (I still maintain they don’t). It was my last chance to piss off someone and I’m afraid I took it.

On the good side, everyone had fun in spite of me. The Komars were pleased with how the session went (and only lightly injured), so it was deemed a success. Actually, we all laughed about how we didn’t need the no-shows next time – we could do it on our own!

Hey, this last bit, it wasn’t me.

But I did laugh about it.


Now promoted to a relaxing varnish job, Engineer Raymond glides the correct car to the correct platform so smoothly, he didn’t even slosh their soup. In the foreground, Engineer Bruce wishes he could have such a prestigious job (Photo: Greg K)