Another Taste of Winter
On Monday morning, north Texas experienced a minor ice storm. The kids were already home from school due to the MLK holiday, and K stayed home and attempted to work from her "home office", with mixed results. On Tuesday, it was cold and cloudy, but dry. On Wednesday, we got about an inch of snow overnight and the city shut down, schools were closed, etc. K attempted to drive to work, but decided against it after a sliding 18-wheeler almost ran her off the road. And it looks like we'll be seeing more wintry precipitation this weekend. Hey, as long as it leaves my portion of the railroad alone, bring it on! Maybe I'll actually manage to get out and get a few photos. Speaking of photos, I haven't managed many train shots lately, but I did nab a couple on Tuesday...
Two of my good friends, fellow railfans who are in their early 20s, are fellow railroad employees and are therefore members of what I call "the youth movement", the demographic of new-hires and recent-hires in their late teens / early 20s. My friend Matt began as a conductor trainee when he was just 19, and worked as a conductor and dispatcher before becoming an engineer trainee late last year at age 21. Stephen joined the company as a management trainee last summer, after graduating from the University of Arkansas in May. I'd be flattering myself if I considered myself a member of their "youth movement" (although I was just 23 when I hired on in late 1995). But even with 11 years' dispatching seniority, I'm still a relatively young pup in the grand scheme of things. Another friend, Chris, is close to my own age and has been a dispatcher for with the UP for about as long as I've been with my employer.
It's cool to think that many times during the week, the four of us are all doing something that involves trains. At 4 pm on a Tuesday afternoon, Chris and I are at work dispatching them across Oklahoma (his territory crosses mine at Enid), Matt's running a locomotive across Kansas, and Stephen's out with a track maintenance gang near Memphis or Birmingham. On a weekday morning, or a Sunday afternoon, two of us might be out watching and photographing trains while the other two are "on the clock". Here we are, in our 20s and 30s, every day going to jobs that we take a genuine interest in -- and getting paid good money to do it. With so many Americans spending entire careers unable to say the same, we should probably consider ourselves fortunate... even if the company does occasionally screw us. Right, boys?