Anybody that knows me knows that I work for the railroad, and which one isn't important. And anybody that reads this blog knows that I spend more time writing about real life than I do about science fiction or my books. Because a) I can, and b) let's face it. Where the hell else am I gonna write about this stuff?
Today I went up to the main maintenance facility for my company. The event was our family day. At first, I wasn't going to go, but at the last minute I figured I would. And now as I'm recording this driving home from there I'm glad I did. I got to see a lot of old friends that I haven't seen in years and it felt really good to be back where I started out on the railroad Even if it was only for a day.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic the nostalgia was thick in the air today. Like I said I looked at faces that I haven't seen in years. And it reminded me of another time. A time when I was younger and just starting out and everything was new. And when I have a guy running upstairs to the office telling my boss that I'm a racist because I asked him to do his job the right way, I don't think a better time could have come for me to remember all those things than now.
In 2013, people argue every night because they have to do one more car or pick up one more piece of trash or change one more brake shoe than the next guy. And no, I don't think that the past was Norman Rockwell-esque either because it wasn't. We still had our share of crap in the past too, but it just felt different then.
There were still people that you didn't like, but for the most part people seemed to like each other. We still argued sometimes over what we had to do, but we didn't seem to fight as much as they do now. Morale was higher and the guys worked together even if they didn't like each other. I made some good friends back in those days and for a while it felt like we were a family.
There's Audrey, my work mom. If you want to know what kind of person she is, she spent the day today following me around making sure that I stopped at the grill to eat. There's Jimmy, Rafael, Joe M and Elvis (Yes that's his real name. Pretty cool Huh?) who are like brothers to me. No matter how many trains there were or how dirty the job got I always knew that these guys had my back. There's Paul, who was like a grumpy uncle to us. He barked a lot, but never bit. And he always had a crooked grin in the corner of his mouth whenever something silly would happen. They all bonded with me, and over time, they bonded with each other and we made a hell of a group. No matter what it was, we always got it done. And we made some damn good money doing it.
Then, there were 100 or so men and women that you would see every day on your way through the halls or walking out to the yard. People that you didn't know really well but you spoke to every day, and you noticed when they weren't around. And all of that took a job that could be really hard sometimes and made it that much easier. It took a job that's being made increasingly more impersonal as it's run by corporations now and put a little bit of humanity back into it.
Going up there today and seeing friends from the past made me really nostalgic today. But a little reminder of where I came from made me remember why I'm so good at what I do. And it made me remember why I took this job in the first place.
So to Audrey, Rafael, Jimmy, Elvis, Joe, and to anybody else that I left out, thanks for the head check. My love to all of you, and to our days gone by. And if I don't see any of you sooner, I'll see you next year!