Train Wrecks

Lot of train wrecks lately. I’ve been predicting this.

It’s a shame. So easily prevented. So much a sign of today’s permissive governmental attitudes. Deregulation.

Of course I am talking about the caboose.

Seen one lately? I don’t think so. I was born and raised on a caboose. My dad kept it a secret for years. He was so respected as a conductor that no one ever suspected.

Mom would get me up in the morning and dress me and feed me and when the train slowed at a grade, she’d lower me down to go off through the woods to find a school for the day. Then I’d catch a later train on the grade and meet up with my parents at a prearranged hobo jungle for the night.

I’d do my homework by firelight!

When we went on vacation in England, we’d stay on the brake vans over there.

Anyway, why were there cabooses? For safety, that’s why! My dad would make sure the switching happened correctly and that boxcar loads weren’t shifting and the hobo load wasn’t getting out of hand, so forth. It was a dark day back in the ’80s when the regulations were softened. The railroad companies and the government blamed it on increased electronic control of the system. Technological advances.  Lineside defect detectors and end-of-train devices cost my pops his job and his family their little home.

But they’ve still got engineers driving the trains, don’t they? They’ve still got stewards serving the meals. They’re still making movies like “Unstoppable” (2010) – spoiler alert: it was stoppable. It’s the conductors who took it on the chin.

Same thing happened to my dad and his dad – grandpa – who had the job of standing at a train intersection and swinging a red lantern when a train was coming. Became unemployed when those damn lowering-arms were invent. Now every once in a while, the arms don’t come down and bam! Although to be fair, every once in a while grandpa would doze off at the side of the road.

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