Saturday, December 30, 2006

An apology to my loyal readers (who just happen to be women)

I wasn't going to write this or post it at all but since I started this blog as my own way of therapy in getting over my divorce and discovering the new Ranger Tom I think it's appropriate. Through this outlet I've found a wonderful way of letting my feelings out and letting the bitterness slowly fade. I've been able to be the real me for once in my life, not putting up any walls or defenses, not listening to anyone's unsolicited advice, or putting up a facade.
You got to see the real me, warts and all...
And it was liberating.
And with this new found liberation I was able to really go forward with my dream of becoming a railroad engineer. Without you all I most probably have "settled" over a year and a half ago and taken the job as town cop in Athens, WV like everyone there was begging me to do... And spiraled down into my old miserable self that I had grown to loathe.
So for this, my dear readers I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me that kick-start of confidence I had been missing all those years, and finally did something about my dream.
Here's where my apology to you ladies comes in.
Over the last several weeks I've been getting emails from my readers. I'm not going to mention any names, but several are from people who have been with me from almost the very beginning and have almost grown to know me like family. I've been told I was their cup of coffee in the morning.
These emails have been asking me where I've been, that sort of thing, they miss me... That was the nice part... They also went on to tell me I've somehow changed, I'm not the same RT they've grown to know... Somehow I've been holding back.
And I have.
Ironic how people who don't even know me see right through me sometimes.
"Hey RT, how come you don't post on my blog anymore? I miss your comments!!!"
Well, because that even though the majority of my readers are women, I didn't plan it out to be that way. I didn't care if anyone ever read any of my shit. Even though most of you are women, I've never once hit on any one of you... Sent you suggestive emails or anything of that nature. Beyond the flirty or racy comments here and there, they were all harmless. Most of you are married or in long-term relationships and I've said a thousand times I don't hit on women who are already taken... And you all knew that.
Every one of you can attest to that.
Recently I've become stifled to the point of stagnation because the woman I'm seeing can't or won't see it that way.
When the person reads my reader's comments they then must go onto their blog in turn to read what I've written I'd get:
"What did you mean by what you said on such and such's blog?" or "Why did you say that on whosiface's blog...?"
What the ever loving FUCK!
So for the last several weeks I've just not been posting a lot and not even commenting on your blogs and for this I'm sorry.
I'm not going to watch what I say anymore, nor will I stifle my own dreams or let me be drawn into someone else's dreams or ideas of what my happiness should be, and how could I not be happy if I don't fit into her little idea of utopia with it's time-lines and rigid geographical boundaries.
I could go on but I won't. I'm physically and emotionally drained at this point, but again, my dear readers who just happen to have ovaries, please accept my deepest apologies for my absence.
The old new Ranger Tom is back!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, December 29, 2006

Things I've learned

Some things I've learned in the past few months:
1) You can actually do your job while sound asleep. Coupling and uncoupling a cut of rail cars and shoving them into a cane-loading elevator siding can be a challenge when totally asleep, but it can be done. So is getting on and off moving locomotives. Do it enough times and you just go through the motions like an automaton.
2) Working seven day's a week with no breaks for months on end does fabulous things to one's attitude, demeanor and awareness for one's surroundings...
3) When one has been working seven day's a week with no breaks and finally does take a day off, it is very possible for that person to actually sleep for twenty-four hours straight.
4) Money isn't everything.
5) Sleep is everything.
I have quite a few decisions to make in the next few months... I have several options open to me at this stage of the game. Important decisions. Ones that I shan't take lightly. Ones that involve Texas, Washington, Idaho, Louisiana and Alaska... And even here in Florida. All have to do with the railroad.
I'm at a crossroads of a sort and with everything else going on I'm finding it more and more difficult to decide just what is it I should do. I know, whatever decision I make I'm going to upset or hurt someone along the way, but I know in my heart of hearts this can't be helped. I'm leaning strongly right now in one or two areas and I'll elaborate more when it becomes clearer in my mind.
I do know this, it will relate to the railroad. That is my one and ultimate goal... I was born for this job and no matter how much money I can make at another job, if I'm not happy with what I'm doing, I'll be no good at anything and be miserable.
I'll relate this story I heard a few years ago. It involved this high-powered Wall Street broker. Made buckets of money... Had the huge house, nice cars... He had everything. One day he chucked it all and went to Africa to work in the Peace Corps. His friends and family were horrified... His reply to them? "What's making two million a year, living where you really don't want to be and being miserable and making a dollar a day and being truly happy?"
I can really identify.
I opt for happiness.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm a felon

Yet again I'm having shit happen to me that can only happen to me.
Over the weekend I lost my work ID card somewhere. Normally this wouldn't bother me but it's not only used to get in the rail yard, it's also my time card. If I don't have it I can't punch in or out of work... So it was a priority to get it replaced.
Yesterday I decided to get a whole bunch of chores done and this was one of them. I also was in dire need of a haircut, I had been without for almost three months and I was starting to get this whole Albert Einstein thing going on with my Cobb...
So I leave work yesterday morning and head home. HR doesn't open until 9 so I had some time to kill. I get home and grab the garbage to take out. I toss the bag in the bed of my truck, drive over to the complex's dumpster and toss it in. Standing not far from it is an older woman, I'd put her in her mid 60's watching me. I say good morning to her, get back in my truck and head out. I stop at the barber shop to get my ears lowered and by this time HR is open so I head over there to get my new ID. I get that and head home.
I'm only about five or six blocks away from my place when I noticed the blue lights in my rearview mirror... I pull over wondering what the fuck I could have done this time besides driving a piece of shit truck.
Making a very long story shorter... Apparently that old bitch I saw in my condo complex earlier call the FUCKING POLICE on me and reported that I had been DUMPING ILLEGALLY!
I began thinking I was right smack~dab in the middle of Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant"...
"There I was sitting on the Group 'W' bench with all the Father-rapers and mother rapers... 'Kid' Sez one, what are you here for? 'Well sez I, I was picked up for litterin' And they all moved away from me..."
To make matters worse the cop wasn't buying that I actually lived where I said I did... I have an Arizona driver's license and my truck is still registered in West Virginia... So after about 30 minutes talking to this pinhead I convinced him to drive me over there and I'll let him into MY fucking condo with MY fucking key to fucking PROVE I fucking live there.
I was never that much of a fucking asshole when I was a cop, I can assure you all of that. And I never was that much of a nosy, narrow-minded busybody like that fucking bitch I have for a neighbor.
I'm soooo fucking sorry I worked all night and came home with soiled work clothes on instead of dockers, loafers and a golf shirt and parked my slightly soiled 88' Ford Ranger pickup next to your Lexus and cramped your style.
Fucking (insert that four-letter word starting with the letter "C" here)!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Monday, December 18, 2006

Children's books... RT style!

Sorry for my lack of posts lately... I've just been terribly busy with work and have been dead tired when I've gotten home the last few weeks.

I'll try to post more often!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Toopid turtle! Twacks are for twains!

Florida has what has to be the dumbest turtles in the world. I had written about them before, but here's proof.
The turtles can figure out how to get over one rail of the tracks, but cant figure out how to get over the second rail and eventually die between the rails. If you click on the photo above you'll see the obviously old (and very dead) ex~turtle. There's literally hundreds I see every day like this.
Just another in a long list of crazy things I see every day!
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

Friday, December 01, 2006

What a long, strange trip it's been...

...In the words of the immortal Gerry Garcia.
Anyway, first off I've got to apologize to my loyal readers for my lack of posts. I've been working 70 to 80 hours a week and quite frankly, really have been much to tired to form any kind of coherent thought to write for you all.
(And Kev, AJ is right, you don't have any room to talk!)
Now to what this coherent thought for the day is. It has been a long strange trip... Over the last few days, seeing my 41st birthday rapidly moving in on me, I took a few moments to ponder my past and realized how truly lucky I've been. It's been a long road to get to where I'm at in my life, a place where I'm truly happy with myself and who I am.
This is what I mean. Not many little boys get to grow up to become what they've dreamed of being. From around the time I was about 4 I wanted to be like Neil Armstrong and be an astronaut... Then at about 6 I realized that in order to do that I'd need to be a shitload better at math that I'd ever be... So around that time Emergency! was my favorite TV show and I wanted to become a fireman... Then at around 10 or 11 I saw my brother in his nice blue police uniform and the pistol on his hip and wanted to be a police officer... At around 16 I saw John Wayne in "The Green Berets" And aspired to be a soldier...
So, with the exception of the astronaut... I've done all of those things, I've been a soldier, cop, firefighter and EMT.
Pretty lucky, I must say.
But there was also one other thing I wanted to do. What I think I was meant to do.
My dad was a workaholic and being so we never really went on family vacations when I was growing up. Not until after her retired from the Frankford Arsenal in 1980 did we start going to Maine every summer, and then shortly after that started I enlisted in the Army.
He was a workaholic and we didn't take vacations, but he did spend time with myself and my siblings. Between Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts, Little League and Civil Air Patrol he was always active in my childhood.
The one thing we'd do together seems really small and insignificant to most when I tell it, but was very important in my career now and how I formed the desire to work on the railroad.
About once or twice a month my dad and I, just the two of us, would hop into the family car and drive over to the old Pennsylvania Railroad passenger station at Torresdale, which is still a SEPTA commuter stop. Amtrak ceased using it as a passenger station years ago. We'd just sit in the car, listening to 56 WFIL AM and watch the trains go by. My dad loved trains and although he never told me, I knew he had the same dream that I had.
One summer day my dad and I were sitting on the hood and a Chessie System freight train came through slow enough for me to get a good look at the engineer in the cab of the locomotive. As the engine went by our vantage point, he looked right at me, smiled a big toothy grin and waved...
It was right then and there I wanted to do that. Sit in the cab of a massive diesel~electric locomotive and rumble across the country... I knew at the time it was only a pipe dream... Something that only other guys get to do...
Until now. Ironically it took my Ranger training to get me to where I am now... MY first adult job and the perserverance it taught me got me to where I am.
Soldier? Been there...
Cop? Done that...
Firefighter? Got the T-shirt...
Railroad Conductor/Engineer? Doing it now, loving every tiring, dirty and physically and emotionally draining moment of it.
And you know something? It's the only job I really wish my dad could see me doing. He's been gone quite a while now but I know he'd be proud of me.

Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit-de-corps of the Rangers.

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress, and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor.
That creed has kept me going throughout everything... And because of that I am where I am today, where I really need to be.
And thanks Dad, for taking me to the train station.
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden