Home Open Account Help 230 users online

Railroaders' Nostalgia > honesty is the best policy . . .

Date: 10/01/18 12:30
honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: 3rdswitch

.   .   .   I hired out on the Santa Fe in Los Angeles in MAY 8, '78 as a switchman with asperations of going into engine service. At the time Santa Fe policy was work for a year "on the ground" before you could enter "engine service", then another year working as fireman or hostler before you could start engineer training. MY "engine service" date was MAY 9, '79, exactly a year after hire. Fortunately for me I was way past my "derail", a period where you were fired for just about anything that you were involved in, when working at Hobart diesel service as a hostler I learned a valuable lesson about air brakes. We uncoupled from a switch unit facing east letting it go into emergency, to run around with another unit facing west to make up a pair of units with outward facing cabs. When we headed back down the track we had left the unit in the unit was gone. That was heart stopping of course but both ends of Hobart diesel service were protected by derails, which in this case, we found worked as intended putting the east truck of the unit on the ground stopping it's movement. When the well seasoned trainmaster showed up he asked me a simple question, "did you tie a hand brake" to which I replied "no", followed by another question, "would a hand brake have prevented this" to which I replied, "yes". His last words, "at least you are honest". Never heard another word about the incident. At this point I have to admit I was very blessed during my career working the many jobs in the Los Angeles Terminal area to work under some very fair and understanding management people. The above shot shows the end of just another day at the office at Hobart Diesel Service in summer '86.

Date: 10/01/18 17:33
Re: honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: roustabout

Good story, sounds like a fair TM.

Date: 10/01/18 20:02
Re: honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: PHall

Had a guy at work who got 30 days off because he lied to the managers about smoking in his company vehicle. (It's a no no at AT&T.)
Managers had the proof and if he had just said "yeah I did it" he would have gotten a simple butt chewing and that would have been it.
But no, he lied to three seperate managers. They even gave him a number of chances to redeem himself. But nope, he stuck with his lies.
And lost a whole months earnings...

Date: 10/01/18 21:02
Re: honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: DynamicBrake

Good story and great shot JB.  Thanks for sharing.

Kent in CArmel Valley

Date: 10/01/18 21:10
Re: honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: ExSPCondr

Another one in the same vein from just over 40 years ago now.  The Night Norwalk Switcher left SP Anaheim with an SW1500 and a cupola caboose, 700pm on duty to go up to Norwalk where their inbound cars were set out.  They would have 6 or 7 hours of local switching to pull all of the empty cars, do the respots, and spot the inbound loads.  They went up cab hop, and should have brought their 20 or so empties back in with them.

There was an oily spot back in one of the leads where the engine was parked without being seen from the main street, and some of the crews spent a couple of hours on spot, then went back out and finished up.  This particular night apparently the alarm clock didn't go off, and when they woke up, it was after 630 in the morning, they were dead at 7am, and they had to get the power and caboose back to Anheim for the day job, which they just did.

There was only one ATM at Anaheim, and I had gone home about 3am when everything appeared to be OKAY.  When I came back in about 3 that afternoon, I was met by the very enraged agent waving last night's switch lists yelling "twelve hours and they only spotted two cars!"  I was surprised by this, but figured out what happened, so I was waiting for the conductor when he came to work at 7pm that night.  I asked Junior what happened? and he said "well I had two extra brakemen and they didn't know the work."  Of course that brought the response of "Good grief Junior, you could have walked  all the tracks in Norwalk in twelve hours!  Don't you know the work?  

Then because he just wouldn't admit he screwed up and would get both nights work done tonight, I finally asked him if he needed me to come along and show him the work!  Needless to say he said NO, and got it all done, and brought in 40 cars instead of 20.   Of course if he had just said "we screwed up and we'll take care of it," that's all there would have been to it.  I had to chew all over him for 20 minutes with the Agent watching, otherwise it would have been over quick.

Date: 10/03/18 06:05
Re: honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: Hookdragkick

My first summer was in '86. Though I don't remember it, thanks for enlightening me with that beautiful shot; it's classic Cali backdrop that reminds me of a favorite movie of mine: To Live and Die in L.A..

Honest helps, I can attest, but sometimes it doesn't amount to squat. It's a character thing; how do you want to feel afterwards; how do you want to be viewed by others?

Posted from Android

Date: 10/03/18 07:45
Re: honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: bobk

Great shot and story!

Date: 10/03/18 08:51
Re: honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: 3rdswitch

"It's a character thing; how do you want to feel afterwards; how do you want to be viewed by others?"
I can identify. During my last year of employment by BNSF I made the mistake of attempting to board a moving locomotive, missed the step but held on dislocating my shoulder in the process. The ones on the job knew exactly what I did but management did not. They wondered what I was going to do. I could have gotten a big settlement by distorting the truth but I told them all if asked I would tell the truth but would offer nothing else. When approached by management I was only asked how it happened and I answered slipped while boarding a locomotive. No one asked if the locomotive was moving until a week or so later while being interviewed by the company claims adjustor in an office. When he got to question ten or twelve on his list he finally asked "was the equipment moving"? My answer was yes and there was silence, until he stated, "the equipment was moving"? This ended the investigation. Was I dis honest? I don't think so. Do I feel good about telling the truth, yes. Should I have offered more info? You be the judge. I did not lie. As stated above, we had some pretty awesome management and when I recovered I was given back pay for time lost but no other compensation which in my eyes was more than fair.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/03/18 19:57 by 3rdswitch.

Date: 10/03/18 12:41
Re: honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: tehachcond

   I 100% agree with 3rdswitch's philosophy on thruthfulness.  Some years ago, an eastbound tonnage train got past a red signal in the siding at the east end of Rowen.  Rowen is on the west side of the Tehachapi grade.  The dispatcher internded to hold them in the siding while the hotshot LABRF went by.  Fortunately, the BRF wasn't by the last intermediate signal, and it went from green to red in his face.  Harold Chrisman, the BRF's engineer immediately plugged it, and the two trains stopped nose to nose on the bridge over Tehachapi Creek.  If the BRF was running a few seconds earlier and was by that green intermediate,, their would have been a horrible head-on collision on that bridge.
   The crew on the eastbound told investigating officers at the scene that "the brake valve was BO, we couldnt stop the train with it."
   The investigation was held by Superintendent Lloyd Nations.  Nations was a long-time official who knew a fishy story when he smelled it.  Before they convened formally, Nations asked the crew if they wanted to stick with the BO brake valve story. They said "yes."
"Well, maybe we weren't paying attention like we should have been,' was the meek reply.
   Those guys were lucky!  In fact, all concerned were lucky.

Brian Black
Castle Rock, CO

Date: 10/03/18 15:34
Re: honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: agentatascadero

The crime is bad enough, but that cover up is always  worse........a truth that applies to all things....not just only politics.


Stanford White
Carmel Valley, CA

Date: 10/03/18 20:30
Re: honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: ExSPCondr

agentatascadero Wrote:
> The crime is bad enough, but that cover up is
> always  worse........a truth that applies to all
> things....not just only politics.

> AA

Another one from the way back machine, about 1978:
An Eastbound was going down the SP Coast with an empty bulkhead flat entrained, which restricted him to 45 MPH.  At Sacate they went all over the ground, and the empty bulkhead was in the derailment.  There were signs of speed, but it couldn't really be proven, even with the time of the derailment, and the time by Surf, etc.  Little did we know that one of the trailing units had a brand new event recorder that had a tape in it!

Twelve MPH over would have meant 30 or 60 days off for the engineer, but instead he turned in an accident report for a strained back while setting a handbrake.  The only problem was that the time he put on the 2611, (SP's number for an AX)  setting a handbrake,  he was running his light engines between Gaviota and Sacate after setting out the head end of his train.

You don't get back from a false accident report, and Ed didn't get back.

Date: 10/06/18 09:13
Re: honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: santafe199

I remember early in my career an old-head conductor telling me: "Son, whenever you get into a scrape just tell them the truth and take your medicine. Don't try to lie, 'cause they're gonna find out the truth anyhow!" He was absolutely right...


Date: 10/14/18 16:59
Re: honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: spider1319

Honesty is the best policy but rarely practiced in the world of railroad investigations and discipline.And that includes both management and labor. At least that is my experience during my tenure as UTU-E Local Chairman some thrty years ago.Maybe things have changed?Bill Webb

Date: 10/17/18 08:11
Re: honesty is the best policy . . .
Author: hoggerdoug

Years ago, I was involved in a rough joint that shifted some loads. The whole crew got called in for an investigation.  The conductor told me just tell the truth and we'll be okay. Of the three of us in for the hearing I was the only one that told the truth. My story did not match the other guys story,  so I ended up with 15 demerits. No big deal and just let the whole thing slip away.  Doug

[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.0832 seconds