Workin’ on the Railroad

When I was younger, I wanted to be a train conductor. I couldn’t imagine a better job. I’d get to ride trains all day. For a kid who was fascinated by trains, I thought that was about the coolest thing I could ever have thought of. Since then, I have decided that I do not have the proper temperament to be a conductor. It’s a little too much pressure and stress than I can probably handle.

Although I can’t say that I am working on the railroad (admit it, you’re singing now), I have seriously considered a job in that field so that I can spend time around trains. I’ve spent enough time on trains and watching/reading/learning about them that I understand many of the jobs available in this field.

I am probably not mechanically inclined enough to work many of the jobs in the field of maintenance, which includes awesome things like maintaining the signals, making and repairing tracks and the bridges they travel over, and welding. If I was mechanically-gifted, I think I would like being a carman the best. Those are the people who assemble railroad cars, inspect them prior to use and at periodic intervals, and also repair them when they break down.

Come on, though, how cool does the title Chief Yardmaster sound to you? If I could get one wish granted, this job would probably be the one. The Chief Yardmaster is the person who makes sure that the cars are placed where they belong, supervises the incoming and outgoing trains for both cargo and commuters, and runs the budgets. There’s other aspects, but those are my favorites.

Most railroad jobs are union-based, which is both good and bad. Good in that you get quality benefits including healthcare and a pension, and things like that. Bad in that it can be hard to break into, and you have to pay your dues – both literally (in that there are fees you have to pay to be a member of the union) and figuratively, in that you usually start at the very bottom and have to work your way up; there isn’t much as far as experience that can get you above a certain level without putting in the time and working all those the terrible shifts that other people don’t want.

Instead, I’ve got a regular desk job doing things that are not rail-related. Right now, my hobby stays a beloved hobby and my job is just the place that I go to get paid. Maybe one day I will be able to combine the two, but for now I can keep them separate. I tell myself it is so I don’t get sick of trains, but the longer I go being interested in the hobby, the less possible it seems that I will get sick of them!