billryan
billryan
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Rigondeaux
May 3rd, 2019 at 1:02:32 PM permalink
My friend Dennis was one of the better athletes in my school, but definitely not college material, as we used to say. Right out of high school, he was fortunate enough to land a job with the Long Island Railroad, at the time one of the highest paying railroads in the country.
Like almost everyone he started as a car cleaner but within a year became a trackwalker.
A trackwalker literally does just that. The LIRR has a branch line, approximately 15 miles in length.
Denniss job, since 1977 was to walk the 15 miles Monday thru Friday and note anything out of place.
Is there a crack in a trestle? Are teenagers drinking in the right of way? Poison ivy growing where it might effect a maintenance worker?
Everyday. Rain or Shine. In the heat, in the snow, icestorms, hurricanes, etc,etc. Most men spend a year or so as a trackwalker before moving to another position but not having to deal with anyone all day appealed to him so he stayed on in the same route.
He'd hit his max salary fifteen years ago, and could have retired anytime in the last five.
I hadn't seen him in a few years when I ran into him perhaps five years ago. His skin was like leather from all the exposure, and he just seemed very beaten down.
At 60, I hope he can enjoy his retirement. I wonder what he would tell his younger self.
Last edited by: billryan on May 3, 2019
The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction is supposed to make sense.
FleaStiff
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May 3rd, 2019 at 1:21:16 PM permalink
Quote: billryan

At 60, I hope he can enjoy his retirement. I wonder what he would tell his younger self.

"If you are going to be a gandy dancer, use skin lotion.
lilredrooster
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May 3rd, 2019 at 1:35:28 PM permalink
that was an interesting story - thanks for posting that
Last edited by: lilredrooster on May 3, 2019
"𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘧 𝘰𝘧 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘯𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳"______Edgar Allan Poe
TigerWu
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Ayecarumba
May 3rd, 2019 at 1:36:25 PM permalink
That sounds like a lot of people's dream job... just being out in nature, by yourself... as long as you protect yourself from the elements. And wandering serial killers.
michael99000
michael99000
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May 3rd, 2019 at 1:42:45 PM permalink
Did he walk the 15 miles, and then walk the 15 miles back to where he started?

This guys FitBit mustíve burned through battery power quickly.

My first thought was actually that the job would lead to good health cardiovascularly, maybe even trouble keeping weight on. I never thought about sun exposure.
billryan
billryan
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May 3rd, 2019 at 1:46:03 PM permalink
His job had great benefits, healthcare and after five years, at 23, he was making more than most of our father's and was the first of us to own a house. He married and had a family pretty young. I have no idea how that worked out. I moved and we would go years between running into each other.
The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction is supposed to make sense.
Wizard
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Wizard 
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May 3rd, 2019 at 5:14:31 PM permalink
I can't think of a better menial labor job to have.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
billryan
billryan
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May 3rd, 2019 at 6:01:07 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

I can't think of a better menial labor job to have.



Where we lived, You had a long summer and heavy humidity. In the fall, we had noreasters. Then a long cold winter followed by a wet spring. I'd guess his working conditions were miserable about 15% of the time. I hope he loved his job. As he stayed on after he was eligible to leave,I'm thinking he did. My Sister and his brother move in the same circles so she got invited to his retirement party.
A couple of years ago, a bunch of the railroad union guys got caught up in a phony disability racket and several of our friends were convicted on federal fraud charges, and a bunch of guys surrendered their pensions when confronted. These jobs often went from father to sons so some families were crushed by it.
Most of the convictions were overturned on appeal, but not before a few families lost their homes.
The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction is supposed to make sense.
Rigondeaux
Rigondeaux
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May 3rd, 2019 at 6:16:02 PM permalink
I like these little vignettes you sometimes post, Bill.

I think I'd like this job too, as long as it wasn't in a hot area. Having this gig in someplace like Oregon would be pretty great. It's hard to think of many jobs that would be beneficial to both your physical and mental health. You could stay in great shape, listen to countless books on tape or podcasts, do walking meditations (even not knowing you are doing them), cycle through various types of music, etc.

Of course, we're thinking about it in the abstract. In reality, I'm sure there are many days when you wake up and do not want to go for a 15 mile walk. But then again most jobs just flat out suck. Like, when I go to a cell phone store, I don't think "this seems nice, but you might get tired of it." I think, "I would kill myself by the time this Justin Bieber song played for the 4th time in an hour."

My problem would probably be that my mind would wander. I can see my supervisor chewing me out. "How did you not notice the burning couch in the middle of the tracks?"
billryan
billryan
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May 3rd, 2019 at 6:28:15 PM permalink
Just to clarify, you aren't on a nature hike. You are inspecting every inch of track, looking for bolts that get loosened when trains pass over. You are checking fences to keep pets and kids from getting near the electrified tracks. Some days you are doing this in storms on wet tracks where a slip and fall turns deadly if you hit the third rail.
The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction is supposed to make sense.

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