Can You Please Any of the People Any of the Time?

My husband is really frustrated and in need of a vacation. His new assistant, who started out the job gung-ho, is already tired. I don't blame him, really. He opted not to move, so he has a 90 minute commute to and from work and, as I have already opined regularly in this blog, the railroad requires long hours.

My husband, due to his experience with the last assistant, felt nervous when he heard the new one tell how tired he was and how much help he needed. This subdivision runs on a little more than half the men it should have, and since they have had the rail and tie gangs and now have the Sperry Car, there really aren't any extra bodies available to help the assistant. That and the fact that you have to have overtime royally approved and then find somebody to work it (since hourly workers can and do regularly refuse) makes life hard for the supervisors who are all services rendered.

In an effort to please, my husband went over the call schedule to make sure it was even. He wasn't sure that made the new assistant happy, but personally, I think that is the best he can do. People push, and sometimes you have to hold your ground or they run you over. I do feel for the assistant–the all-services rendered thing is really a drag. I have even, in heated moments, accused my husband of having the railroad as his mistress because she crooks her finger and he goes. Nevertheless, that is what the job is and always has been.

The assistant opted not to move closer to his headquarters, and he took the job knowing where he would have to report. Now that reality has sunk in, I think he is just tired.

I feel for both men. My husband because he really is a fair man. He is tired, though, and desperately in need of a vacation. And the assistant because he has just found out that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the fence.

That's the way life is on the railroad.


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