Railroading with pride
Pride. It’s a simple word with a multitude of meanings. Just look it up in a dictionary. To railroaders, it usually has just one definition: Doing the job well. It’s something that’s not always easy to do.
Railroaders, like other professionals that spend more time outside than in, are constantly presented with a variety of circumstances.
Even during the best of days, railroaders, especially shortline railroaders, have a tough job. It’s never fun clearing out fouled switch points, responding to malfunctioning grade-crossing gates in the middle of the night, constantly replacing ties, inspecting rail, and dealing with flat spots on wheelsets.
Then there’s the locomotive that goes offline and won’t come back up; the car that went on the ground when the rail turned over; the trespasser pilfering ties, and the local homeowner who harangues them because sounding the horn disturbed his sleep.
Railroaders will complain and moan about working conditions, taking another rules examination, and checking their timepieces when they think it’s about lunchtime. You don’t want to be around one of them when the wheel slip detector goes off and the unit is standing still, or someone forgot to refresh the onboard toilet.
Yet when they are asked to pose for a group photo, everyone at the Sierra Northern’s Ventura Division in California for example – train crews, road gangs, maintenance people, and management all grab a comb, look in the mirror, make sure their collars are straight, and brush the day’s grit off their clothes. And all of them, from the newbies to the grizzled vets do the same thing … they smile for the camera.
For they are railroaders, and darn proud of it.