Thursday, April 27, 2006


"Ask RT" will be back next week, I had a very important interview to go yesterday. I had been keeping this kind of quiet for one reason I wasn't really sure about it, and to tell you the truth I'm still not too sure, and second I really didn't talk about it much because I didn't want to get my hopes up.
I think I've mentioned before I've been trying to get on full-time with a railroad as a conductor but I'd take any job connected with the railroad at this point. It's a childhood dream of mine to eventually become a railroad engineer.
So in December I sent my resume to the Durbin & Greenbrier railroad up in Pocahontas County, West Virginia for a conductor job. For a while I never heard anything from them until a few weeks ago when the president of the railroad called me personally. For two weeks we played phone tag and we finally set up a tentative date for an interview, yesterday.
Since it's about 150 miles from where I live and the schedule I've been working isn't the best, I decided to drive up Tuesday evening, get a motel room and see him Wednesday morning.
I got to the motel around 6 PM Tuesday and realized that that part of West Virginia is a cell phone black hole because of the close proximity to the Green Bank Radiotelescope, 11 miles south so I call the president's voicemail from the motel. It was late and I really didn't think I'd hear from him that night so I settled in with a coffee from the motel's restaurant and the TV.
Around 9 PM the phone rings and it's him...
"Hey Tom, are you doing anything right now?"
"Nope, just sitting her watching the History Channel."
"Can you come over to the office?"
"Sure! I can be there in about 10 minutes!"
So I get to the railroad office, only a few miles up the road from the motel and meet the president, his wife and another conductor. We talk for about an hour and I'm getting really good vibes, because at one point he's telling me about the expansion they're doing, hiring several more crews not only to work on the tourist side of the railroad, but the expanding freight and coal service they're doing. And one point, while he's telling me this he let's slip "That's why I'm hiring you..."
So I'm feeling pretty good about this at this point. He then asks me if I'm doing anything on Wednesday and I tell him no, not really. He invites me to meet with him the next morning to take a ride over to the Beverly, WV train yard to see what I'll be doing. We meet the next morning at 6AM, and as usually it's a hurry up and wait. We finally get over to the yard at 10 AM and get the diesel yard engine fired up, an old work horse built in 1946 but still running strong. We spend most of the day switching hopper cars around and taking them 8 miles down the line to a coal mine's tipple to load, and taking the loaded cars back the the yard for CSX to pick up.
He tells me he'll be training me to be the conductor on this run, twice a week, and general track maintenance the other days. To be an engineer, you must first be a conductor, and in all reality is the more important position on a train. He's the one responsible for putting the cars together into a consist, coupling and uncoupling the cars and movements of the train itself. I do that for a few years and get certified as an engineer later, I can go to any railroad in the country and get a job.
Anyway, along the way yesterday he told me about the company, the railroad retirement plan (best in the country) and the pay (double what I'm getting paid now) and I let him know I'm seriously interested in the job. When we parted ways yesterday afternoon he let me know he'd make the final decision later that week and let me know by the beginning of next week if I've got the job...
I'm still not 100% positive I've got the job, but I'm looking at it with a positive outlook.
He did say in passing he had gotten a lot of resumes from CSX and Norfolk~Southern guys with 30 and 40 years experience who he didn't call for interviews... And I'm taking that as a very good sign.
Wish me luck!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden


Kev said...

Oh yeah, Railroad Retirement, baby!

That's the main reason why he got so many applicants from CSX and NS - once you're on the RRB rolls, you always want to work for a RRB employer. When Conrail was split up a lot of the guys took buy-outs, but now are trying to get back in to complete their service requirements for full retirement. We have a group of them here - we call them the ex-Cons.

Good luck to you, Tom. And remember, the conductor runs the train; the engineer just drives it.

The Ramblin Hillbilly said...

Good luck RT, I wish you the best man.

Sherri said...

OMG! Fingers and toes crossed for you! :x

tsduff said...

Man alive - sounds like a dream!!! That is the coolest employment story I've ever heard :-D Now its only a matter of time (waiting is always the hardest part) before you're in the gravy! Sincere congrats on this job Tom!

cmk said...

You know you always have my best wishes! Can't wait to hear the good news next week!

Lisa said...

Good luck! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!

Outdoorsy Girl said...

That's wonderful. Good luck, though I doubt you'll need it. It sounds VERY positive.

That would be a cool job. I have always really liked trains. I even do model railroading. I guess my father stemmed that interest in me from an early age. He designs railroad cars and has several of his designs patented. So I guess he is an engineer, too (but the other kind of engineer, the designing running autocad kind. haha)

Okie said...

Sweet. I hope you get it. I have a friend who is an engineer for Union Pacific. He got into it by using a job at the McAlister army ammunition plant for training.

DivineMsN said...

Congrats! We'll pullin' for ya!

phlegmfatale said...

That's SUPER! I hope you get it!