Saturday, December 05, 2009

A Word on Goddamn Yardmasters...

Since the beginning of this year's sugar harvest I've been putting up with this goddamn Yardmaster... Every time we turn around this motherfucker has got us doing the dumbest shit... Hence the photograph above... My "BOHICA" T-Shirt from my classic irreverent t-shirt line sold right here on this blog... It stands for Bend Over, Here It Comes Again!" Myself, My Conductor Jay and my Switchman Bill have been getting bent over every night...

Just kidding, Scott!

You're doing one hell of a job up there! Keep on doing what you're doing Brother! I'm really happy you're up there instead of the other alternative. At least you use what's in between your ears!

Keep up the great work, and stop over the house again some morning and we'll have a few frosty~cold adult beverages again! I know you read this from time to time and I remembered that conversation we had at the Tiki Bar that afternoon, so I just couldn't resist breaking your balls!
Now on to other things... A lot of stuff has been happening and every morning when I get home I really haven't felt like doing much of anything except getting some supper, a shower and crawling into bed.

I absolutely love being an engineer but with it comes a lot of responsibility. I'm handling a lot of horsepower, and literally thousands of tons of railroad rolling stock every night... A lot of times with my friends and co-workers riding on the outside of the said equipment. Shoving 30, 40, 50 even 100 cars at a time into tracks. A lot of things can go dreadfully wrong and I've always got that on my mind. It's no wonder that I'm mentally drained at the end of my shift and have let a lot of things slip by the wayside...

Like finally opening my email and finding well over 350 unanswered emails, many from dear and close friends who were wondering if I'd died or not...

Sorry guys, I'll try to be a little better at answering those emails!

And I'll blog a little more!
And speaking of friends... My great friend Bill who's now working with me here is really turning into a real railroader.

I was deeply troubled and worried there for a while, but after he got his shit together he's turned into a real asset on my crew.

I'm really proud of you Bill... Even though you still crack on me about being old.

I'll still kick your ass, you young snot-nosed punk!
And again, speaking of really bad things happening while one is handling really heavy equipment...

The photos above and below are what happened to us around 1 AM on Thanksgiving night.

Happy fucking Thanksgiving!

We had just pulled 31 cars off "C" Dump, where they dump the loaded cane cars into the mill and "kick" them out the other side. Bill had counted me down past the "C" switch, and getting on the point of the shove, he gave me the "Ahead" order on the radio. He was around 1,200 feet way at the point of the shove as I steadily eased the throttle back and gained speed. At around 5 or 6 miles an hour my train felt like it was starting to bog down and it just didn't feel right. It's hard to explain.

Anyway, I immediately knocked off the throttle and instead of rolling to a stop, my train stopped dead.


I got on my radio and asked Bill if anything was wrong and he told me to stand by, he'd look back.

My conductor was way up the track getting us lined into a storage track and came on the radio...

"Bill, are there cars on the ground...?"

"Eh, yeah... Several..."

Oh Shit!

I heard Jay call our Yardmaster and tell him what was happening as I centered the reverser, cut out the generator field and tied a handbrake on the locomotive and walked down to see what mess I had made.
After an investigation it was determined that about mid-way though the cut a thin flange had "picked" a switch, sending about 9 out of the 31 I was shoving over a frog and putting them on the ground.

No one's fault, but I'm really glad no one was hurt. Just a freak accident. I'll tell you one thing though, Bill's face was white as a ghost and I know it scared the living shit out of him... If anthing can be brought out of this on a postive note it all reenforced a really healthy respect for the equipment we use and a better respect for all of us on why it's very important to always be 100% aware of your surroundings when working on the railroad!

Photographs and rambling diatribe Copyright 2009 Thomas J Wolfenden


Mushy said...

Great post dude...really enjoy to see others working hard! Thank your lucky stars you have a good job.

The Ramblin Hillbilly said...

Bring it on pops. I'll even let you use your cane with your 4 little tennis balls on the ends of it.

Ranger Tom said...

Mushy: I really am lucky I have a job right now... Especially one I love!

Bill: You know what you can do with that cane? ;)~