|The Manager and the Signalman
Author: Mattchoo996 PM
A railroad worker is annoyed by his boss. Based on an old, old joke.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor - Words: 689 - Published: 08-18-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3051471
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The Manager and the Signalman
Managers, it is believed by most railroaders, haven't got a 's something about getting promoted from the actual railroad intoa nice, comfy office with a big oak desk and pictures on the walls —often not even pictures of trains — that causes their brains to atrophy.
Of course, Managers often feel that the guys out there runningtrains or maintaining track are lazy and want to do the least amount ofwork possible. They forget that what sometimes appears to be lazinessis often simply the desire to to a job as quickly and efficiently aspossible. And they often confuse the smooth, easy actions of anexperienced man who wastes no time or energy with those of a man who iscomplacent about safety. So, Managers are wont to come up with anynumber of "tests" for the employees they manage, so they can determinewho is simply very good at his job and who really is lazy orcomplacent. Some tests are overt, others are subtle.
On one particular summer day, a Manager on a railroad that shall remainnameless saw a signalman seated on top of a signal relay cabinet,enjoying a leisurely lunch break out of a big, black metal lunch he knew the man was legitimately on his lunch break, seeinghim sitting on a relay box irritated this Manager. So he decided toquiz the signalman to find out just what the man would do in anemergency situation.
"Tell me, sir," the Manager began after exchanging pleasantries,"What would you do if you suddenly realized that two trains wereheading for this signal from opposite directions, both on the sametrack?"
The signalman snorted. "I'd just reach in this here relay box andmanually drop both signals to red, and let the Delayer up there in thetower sort it out," he replied.
"What if the box were locked, though?" the Manager inquired.
"Why would it be if I'm here working?" the signalman demanded.
"Say you were working on the signal itself," the Manager replied.
"Even somethin' as simple as swapping a light bulb requires opening thecabinet because that's where the spare bulbs are," the signalmanresponded. "This box 'uld be open if I 'as working on this plant."
"Okay, let's say you just got here?" the Manager persisted.
"Well then I'd just unlock the cabinet first. It'd only take a second or two."
"Let's say your key breaks off in the lock."
By this time the signalman was starting to get a bit annoyed. "Pretty unlikely, sir."
The manager nodded. "I admit that. But it would be possible, you must agree?"
"Well, yeah, I guess so. In that case I guess I'd have to run up andmanually throw the crossover to route one of the trains to the othertrack."
"How can you do that if your key is broken off in the cabinet lock?" the Manager asked, thinking he'd scored an important point.
The signalman felt insulted and a bit disgusted at the Manager's lackof knowledge. "Those are two completely different keys," he said,stopping himself just before adding the words "you idiot" to the end ofthe sentence. He thought them, though.
But the Manager was not done yet. "What if that key breaks in the lock too?"
"Oh, come on. Two keys breaking at the same time, right at a crucialmoment like that?" the signalman demanded. "That's a stretch, that a bit of a stretch."
"Granted. But nevertheless, it is possible." the Manager insisted. "What would you do if it were to happen?"
The signalman thought a moment. "Well, sir," he said after a time, "I guess at that point, I'd have to go call my Uncle Ted."
The Manager hadn't been expecting this one. "Your Uncle Ted? Why would you call him?"
The signalman looked him straight in the eye. "My family's been inrailroading for the better part of a century. I learned this job frommy dad, and he learned from his dad. Most of us have seen just abouteverything you can see on the railroad, from a yard job squishing abunny rabbit to a Limited hitting the ground at sixty-plus. But UncleTed, he's sheltered. He ain't never seen a big train wreck."