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.
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.