SPARTENBURG, S.C. – It’s probably fair to say that I’m a bit of a night owl. And that’s probably a good thing on this trip.
I find myself sitting in the club car early in the morning. The trip is a pleasant on, albeit a long one.
The conductors sit on the other side of the car. With one ear, I listen to them mingling and talking about friends and life on the railroad. With the other, I keep an ear on my portable scanner and listen to the engineer to track the train’s progress. Just then I hear him ask: “What’s our lead engine? 196?” The dispatcher responds: “197.”
Apparently the engineer’s name is Jimmy. Everyone on the line knows him, or so it would appear by the way they talk to him.
It must be an interesting life to work on the railroad. I wonder if it’s as romantic as it seems. My guess is no.
It’s almost 1 a.m. and we’re in South Carolina. The conductors are talking about two people that will be boarding at the next stop. They’ll be traveling to New York, the train’s terminating stop. The talk turns to where should they be seated.
We just passed Norfolk Southern mile post 427.0, an automated voice tells me. I bet Casey Jones never had a computer voice tell him where he was.
I find there’s a certain flair, even a certain mystique about the train. It takes a certain kind of person to live and work on a train. Though it may be an adventure to ride the train on occasion, they probably don’t consider their job to be an adventure night after night.
I wish the bar was still open.