ight… nine… ten…”
My black shoes pace across the cold concrete floor. It’s seven in the morning and I’m an hour from home and bed.
“Eleven… twelve… thirteen.”
Blue tape. All stop.
I look around the quiet convention center. Our promised twenty-two feet of width is actually thirteen. We’ve been bungled by nine-feet. Not so much, but its further then a man can reach. It’s the distance the condemned falls through the hangman’s trap door. And it’s a full module-and-a-half of distance we can’t afford to lose.
Steve, our module engineer, comes in. I nod to him. “Problem here.” And I explain. He counts with me, confirms that our table marker indicates an area-width of twenty-two feet. “Okay,” he shrugs. “We go with Plan B.”
Plan B is a shorter version of our layout. Instead of an expansive and impressive eighteen modules, it relies on ten. This gives us six blocks, meaning we can only nose-to-tail four or five train, not the eight to ten we usually do.
So we build the new arrangement – it goes up in thirty minutes. Buildings on, rolling stock lined up. We’ve got one yard to stage out of and a single passing track to get by on. We’re rolling trains, getting used to the short space at 8:30am. The show starts, people flood in, and we’re running. And on this tips of our tongues, to every complement we receive, we all want to say, “Yes, but you should see the layout we actually brought.”
Thanks to all who ran today. The show must, and did, go on.