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Railroaders' Nostalgia > It's What I Wanted to Do


Date: 02/01/24 08:36
It's What I Wanted to Do
Author: train1275

It’s what I wanted to do.
 
I hear, and have heard for as many years as I’ve been associated with the railroad industry and even before, the bitches and gripes of guys who feel dissatisfaction in their jobs. Pay, benefits, time off, assignments, working conditions, management, etc.
 
And yes, many days it sucked, really sucked. I worked both hands on on the ground  and in management. For those of you who think a railroad management job is a gravy job …. Well for me it wasn’t. No real time off, phone ringing at all hours for all reasons and the need to make good decisions in the midst of chaos and events that you could not control. Many mornings I woke up wondering if it was all worth it, and why in the heck I was doing it. Being ambitious there were any number of opportunities to have a better personal life, more money, better benefits and working conditions etc.
 
Out in snow up to my keester or deeper with the driving snow stinging my face and feet half frozen, all sweaty and covered with oil, grease and diesel fuel trying to get a locomotive to run, half dead walking track in temps over 100 degrees, missing holidays, family reunions, birthday parties, and sports games. Sleeping in more hotel rooms than a traveling salesman, and working with “characters” that should it seemed be confined to some asylum. When I first started I was riding an old Alco road switcher that had a wooden box with a vinyl cushion and little back rest for a seat. I started grumbling about it and the old engineer running shut me right down by saying that when he started he shoveled coal into the firebox of a yard engine for 16 hours / day. Maybe that seat wasn’t so bad after all. Are things better today for those out there in all ranks or worse then we had it. There were many trials and challenges for sure. No toilet on the engine, cab heat that barely worked, working in an unheated shop and watching an ice layer form on the top of a steaming cup of coffee. Hotel rooms full of cockroaches, travel when you are sick because you HAVE TO BE THERE and other novelties of the job.
 
But in the end, railroading was what I wanted to do. It was what I signed up for, and there were no illusions of how it compared to doing other things as a vocation. So I stuck it out, bitching and grumbling and glad I did, as really it was what I wanted to do.
 
Anyone else ?

 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/01/24 08:38 by train1275.



Date: 02/01/24 08:43
Re: It's What I Wanted to Do
Author: irhoghead

For some of us, it's in our blood. We wouldn't do it if it wasn't. And, we wouldn't be on TO, either.



Date: 02/01/24 08:52
Re: It's What I Wanted to Do
Author: Railbaron

train1275 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It’s what I wanted to do.
>  ...
> Anyone else ?

Amen to all of that. I never hated the job, only grew to hate the management. I retired not because I got tired of the job but rather because I got tired of idiotic, nasty, management.
 



Date: 02/01/24 10:15
Re: It's What I Wanted to Do
Author: RetiredHogger

41 years. Didn't enjoy every day, but there was never a day that I didn't like what I did for a living. And that's a blessing.

 



Date: 02/01/24 11:40
Re: It's What I Wanted to Do
Author: santafe199

In my blood? Yeah sure, my maternal Grandfather was career Rock Island. But he passed when I was 10, so no real personal connection there. My RR employment was a window of opportunity. My "pre-ordained" path was to follow my father's steps into the US Postal Service for a career (late '74 ~ early '78). But that didn't work out. Employment in Santa Fe train/yard service (1978) was a timely opportunity, taken on the heels of a summer (1974) in their M.O.W. department. Would I have gone into railroading without being a full-fledged railfan? Doubtful, especially if I had known ahead of time about the downside(s) of such employment. But once I went through that door I knew I was where I wanted to be. And I was determined to make it work. Looking back I might have done a few things different. But I also know that my camera & I went through doors that NEVER would have opened for me if I was a "civilian". And I took advantage of this for quite a while. But after a dozen or so years I did just what Art Gibson warned me not to do. I let the drudgery of the job put a major squelch on my railfanning instincts. I basically quit shooting. A railfan "hibernation", if you will. And right in the middle of the Montana Rocky Mountains at that. I got the instinct back (2009) just as I was coming to the medical-disability end of my career (2010). Now that I've got the hobby back I'll never let it go again...

Lance/199



Date: 02/01/24 14:35
Re: It's What I Wanted to Do
Author: 3rdswitch

I was the only railroader in my family and have been interested for my whole life. Actually, after my brother retired from driving bus for Long Beach, CA, he hired out on Amtrak until retirming a few years ago. But, other than that, just me. I loved my job. Was very fortunate to work in Southern California where weather was not a factor, and, working in the big terminal of Los Angeles, seniority was only a problem for the first few years as jobs abounded both on call and with regular hours. No regrets, lots of sniveling because that's what railroaders do. Some for good reason some just because. It was my dream, it came true, and is still paying dividends as well as retirement.
JB



Date: 02/01/24 17:17
Re: It's What I Wanted to Do
Author: eljay

Uplifting post, Joe!
3rdswitch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I was the only railroader in my family and have
> been interested for my whole life. Actually, after
> my brother retired from driving bus for Long
> Beach, CA, he hired out on Amtrak until retirming
> a few years ago. But, other than that, just me. I
> loved my job. Was very fortunate to work in
> Southern California where weather was not a
> factor, and, working in the big terminal of Los
> Angeles, seniority was only a problem for the
> first few years as jobs abounded both on call and
> with regular hours. No regrets, lots of sniveling
> because that's what railroaders do. Some for good
> reason some just because. It was my dream, it came
> true, and is still paying dividends as well as
> retirement.
> JB



Date: 02/01/24 17:43
Re: It's What I Wanted to Do
Author: HotWater

My dad worked for the Pennsylvania RR, and his dad (my Grandfather, who I never met) also worked for the Pennsylvania RR. Railroading was ingrained in me by the time I was 2 1/2 - 3 years old (1944 - 1945). By the time I was in Junior high school, I knew I wanted to work for the railroad, the DL&W was my "home town" line, and in 1958, I had befriended a LOT of the DL&W men, including the Road Foreman of Engines. In 1959, I applied for a Hostler "Trainee" in Hoboken Terminal. My mother was boned and determined that I was NOT going to work for the railroad, but I was to got to college and "get a good job"!

OK, so I went to collage, and went to work for EMD, in the Field Service Dept. June 1, 1962. Thus, I was in the "railroad business", and still satisfied the home front! I loved every minute of those almost 37 years!



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