Saturday, October 21, 2006

A shitty end

To a shitty week.
This past Sunday night the crop started... I won't have a day off now until April. But that's not what I'm really in a pissy mood about.
You see, for years upon uncounted years, the railroad I work for wasn't considered a railroad at all by the company, just another department. And in being such, it was treated just like any other department in a big agro-manufacturing plant. Unlike every railroad I've worked on so far, CSX, Norfolk~Southern, West Virginia Central uses big, thick safety rule books that everyone has to follow. So this non-railroad didn't have one and last year there was a fatality on the very job I'm working on... The same shift, the same yard and the same job. In essence the guy I replaced was killed. He was coupled together between two cars.
Wonderful.
So at the end of the last crop they hired a new Railroad Operations Manager... One that came from a "real" railroad and he came in an implemented a whole new slew of rules, too many to list here, but what I was used to working under...
I like being safe.
Safe = Good
Coupled together between two freight cars = Ungood
so now we have all these rules that everyone is supposed to work under and live by... But the "Old Heads", the guys who have been here since before I was born ( I shit you not, one guy I work with started a month before I was born) are fighting it tooth and nail... Only after a week I already wish I had a nickel for ever time I've heard; "We've never done it this way before... This isn't going to work..."
So not only do I have to keep watching over my shoulder I have a shift Yardmaster who most definitely has a major case of the ass for me... Apparently since the computer system we have on the train to inventory our loads inbound and outbound I can figure out... It does have some glitches, but it's not all that hard to figure out... He is having major problems with it and so every time he fucks it up it's somehow my fault.
I'm a man and I can take the blame for my own fuckups of which I have plenty... But I'm not going to put up with his bullshit for too much longer.
It's going to be a long crop.

My engineer... 40-year Illinois Central Railroad and Amtrak engineer... Good guy, but another one of those who keep repeating that tired old mantra...

"This ain't going to work..."

Loading raw sugar cane into one of the hundreds of railcars I move every night... At a loading elevator about 20 miles from the yard and alligator and mosquito central.

It's got to get better... Because it can't get much worse.

Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

12 comments:

Mushy said...

Let me apologize first for not visiting your site in a couple of weeks...I didn't even have you bookmarked...now that's changed.

I sure do enjoy your photos and commentary...I'll make you a habit, I promise.

Might even link you if you think that'll help.

AlaskaJen said...

It's going to get better! You've worked hard to get where you are and the company has invested too much in you guys who are doing to it safely.

But the pictures are great!! :o)

Fathairybastard said...

Wow. Reading this makes me aware of how completely boring my job is. Can't imagine how I might possibly get killed lecturing, unless the heart gives out after a binge at the Chinese buffet, or a former student goes postal. Nether is too likely. Not to mention the idea of a gater sauntering into the classroom in mid discourse. Still, we have the same issues with rules and old hands. Last year, a new guy was hired to be head of the math department on our campus on Ft. Hood. He's a nice guy, retired military, who was teaching part time on the main campus and a few classes over on our campus when they hired him to replace an old guy who had died. The old guy had let the math guys here teach their classes the way they felt best, and everything had been cool. Then this dude takes over in the middle of the every 5 year drama over the accreditation period when we have to show that we are doing things by a common standard, and basically tries to impose main campus rules and control on the guys teaching on Ft. Hood. And when the local guys complained, he went all "I'm in charge and you'll do what I say" on them. No subtlety at all. I tell ya, the shit hit the fan. Our dean and administrators and the administrators over on the main campus went toe to toe for a while. If they could have fired this guy he'd have been gone quick, but he had the main campus deans on his side. Math enrolment went down as the main campus rules drove students to other schools where the math classes were taught more conventionally (their new rules included requirements for computer math instruction every week). I just thank God every day that I don't teach math. Anyway, my sympathies to you. Think of Alaska and repeat this mantra... this too will pass, this too will pass.

Red said...

I can't believe they didn't have any safety guidelines! Even the offices I've worked in had them, as lame as that seems. Just crazy.

Leazwell said...

Tell me it ain't so....

Courtney said...

What is it about jobs in general that SUCK?!? I liked your math: "Coupled together between two freight cars = Ungood." Sounds like an equation that makes sense to even the worst mathematician!

Ranger Tom said...

Mushy: Thanks for stopping by when you can. I understand how one can get busy so there's no need to promise... And I enjoy your photos and commentary also! But thanks for the link!

AlaskaJen: I know, I just get a little frustrated sometimes... And I got some news last night at work I'll tell you about later... As for the pics, ya think? I look a mess in that one... It was about 3:30 AM and I was dirty, sweaty and tired... But thanks anyway!

Fathairybastard: Try teaching in the Philadelphia public school system for a while and your view would change. I think I'd rather be coupled between two railcars than ever do that...

Red: A lot of things are crazy the way the old heads do things around here...

Leazwell: I shit you not.

Courtney: Yeah, I like that math a lot, like my beer math... 24 bottles in a case, 24 hours in a day. NOT a coincidence. And nice to see you dropping by again!

Bev said...

People fear change, but damn you would think they would be on board for something that involves their own safety.

Kev said...

The worst part is the guys who say "this will never work" (or some similar expression using whatever creative grammar comes to mind) are the guys who saw one of their coworkers coupled between the cars. Idiots!

Most people outside of manufacturing don't believe this stuff happens for real. My coworker's brother-in-law recently lost both of his hands in a metal press. A friend of theirs saw a coworker literally get vaporized because he took a shortcut in a steel mill - the same shortcut that everybody else took every day on the way to the cafeteria. And several of my coworkers have stories of people getting coupled between the cars.

Yes, people, the couplings go through the body of the unlucky guy who happens to be on the track between the cars and then the couplings link together. Railcars are big, heavy, and solid; people are not. Hopefully, the guy will die quickly, but that is not always the case. Uncoupling the cars is always fatal.

If it makes you feel any better, Tom, you stand a much better chance of advancing in seniority with those nay-sayers on the tracks. You'll be keeping your head up and eyes open, they'll be muttering at their feet about how uncomfortable the safety boots are when the train hits them.

The RHS said...

aye, stay safe out there.

I hate it when people can't own their fuck ups. Shit happens. People make mistakes. Unless you're an incredible fuck-up, it usually goes away. Though I'm sure it's nothing a sand-filled chunk of hose couldn't cure. ;)

Kat_womanx2 said...

We got our first snow today...at 31 degrees and holding. We JUST got moved into the house this past weekend. Spent our first nights there sat and sunday. I'll post pics as soon as I get some done....holding an 84 average in class...its killing me !!!!! Hope things are well other than work being a pain...

Cheryl said...

Two wishes for you:

First, a better week to come.

Second, that you remain uncoupled between cars. That one is most important.