June, 2002

“Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics!”

We Americans have become so inured of numbers thrown out by our government and news media that we hardly stop to pay attention any more.  We just assume for the most part that somebody, somewhere must know something we don’t or, more likely, we figure it’s all bullshit and go happily about our own business thinking, “It doesn’t affect me anyway.”

Well, it does.  Whether the number-crunchers massage the work you do or the taxes you pay, there are some out there who think themselves wiser and blessed by God to tell you how to do your job, run your life and even defend the country in which you do all this stuff.  These folks are called things like “politicians” or “managers” or  “religious” leaders.  Fact is, I don’t buy their bullshit for a minute, and neither should you.  These bastards are lying to you.  Every time I see an official UP report on how well we are doing and how we compared with some other “service unit”, I remember the total lack of real leadership that causes these jerks to pit their subordinates against one another.  If you can’t figure out how to run a successful railroad, then figure out a way to blame some other poor dumb bastard when it goes to Hell.  Just hire the accountant, statistician, or lawyer with no scruples and fix it up so we look good to the stockholders.  Unfortunately, this sort of attitude creeps down into local management as well, and turns mostly honest folks into liars and cheats for the corporate goal of pleasing the bottom line.  When you finally realize, as a junior manager, that the guys up the ladder want to hear good stuff, you put out good stuff, true or false.  That’s the way you get to be one of the guys you are lying to.   Be skeptical of everything you’re told and all you read.  Most of you who read this know our slant on things.  Do you really take everything we say as the absolute truth?  Don’t kid yourself.  We all have an agenda.  So what?  At least we don’t torture statistics to try to prove what we know are lies.   Railroaders have always been a practical bunch and I believe even the present Nazi dictator Super we have here knows that he’s running a losing game.  God knows he’s cost his employers a bunch of money.  Anyway, don’t believe anything you read, hear or see. Find out for yourself, do the homework.  Then and only then you’ll realize:  It’s all lies, damned lies and statistics. Work safely and look out for each other. 

We Get Letters, Part 1

Dear Sarge,
Tuesday last a safety barbeque was held in Milpitas, CA to celebrate 3 months free from "reportable" injuries. This did not mean no injuries, just no reportable injuries.  Anyway,  the barbeque was not injury or accident free.

A carman backed his jitney into an engineer’s truck causing reportable damage, 1st MYO stepped off a door sill and sprained his ankle, the next day he showed up wearing one boot and one tennis shoe,  2nd MYO was startled when a bowl of chili was upset by the wind and he fell backwards off the bench, landing on the ground on his back and scraping his elbow.
There were other rule violations that would have amounted to considerable discipline had no officers and non "safety" personnel been the violators.

The barbeque was held 50 to 70 feet from the work lead and the engines made several passes right by them before Don Seil remembered his ear plugs. Of course, this prompted the rest of the officers, who had them hanging around their necks, to plug up. None of the "safety" people wore plugs or safety glasses and none were cited for not doing so.

The real topper was that one engineer got the runs so bad he spent a good part of his shift on the can and a conductor had to lay off the next day for the same reason.

Safety First! 
Fishsniffer, Oakland, CA

Moron Manager of the Month

This month's award goes to no less than the Road Foreman of the entire NS Harrisburg Division. He was riding with a student engineer to qualify him for the final exam, when all of the sudden, the train goes into emergency...the crew springs into action to do the things they're required to do by rule in this situation, when this moron steps in and not only forbids 
the engineer to make the proper emergency radio transmission, but also forbids the conductor from walking the train to make sure everything's still on the rail. Seems that all that funny business would interfere with his quit, which was only 10 miles further down the pike.  Now that's bad enough, but he pulls this bonehead move on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, where the authorized track speed is 125 MPH! This is a total disregard for the safety of thousands of rail passengers, and a definite, de-certifiable offence if you or I would have done it.  Well, despite his best efforts to cover this up, the crew (and everyone else who heard about it) were so pissed that they turned him in to the authorities.  He claimed he didn't think the train "dumped" but was just a full service application. That went down the toilet when they pulled the tapes.

His punishment?   No merit increases this year (raises) and no performance bonus this year, either!  It’s a small price to pay for innocent lives, if you ask me. 
Bullwinkle J. Moose

Go Directly to Jail…

The other day someone said working here is like being in prison.  Just in case you ever get the two mixed up, this should make things a bit more clear:

IN PRISON... you get three meals a day. 
AT WORK... you only get one meal and you have to pay for it. 

IN PRISON... you get time off for good behavior. 
AT WORK... you get more work for good behavior. 

IN PRISON... you can watch TV and play games. 
AT WORK... you get fired for watching TV and playing games. 

IN PRISON... you get your own toilet. 
AT WORK... you have to share with some idiot who pees on the seat. 

IN PRISON... they allow your family and friends to visit. 
AT WORK... you can't even speak to your family. 

IN PRISON... all expenses are paid by the taxpayer, with no work required. 
AT WORK... you get to pay all the expenses to go to work, then they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners. 

IN PRISON... you spend most of your life inside bars waiting to get out. 
AT WORK... you spend most of your time waiting to get out and go inside bars. 

IN PRISON... you must deal with sadistic wardens. 
AT WORK... they are called managers. 

The Continuing Saga of the Green Goat

In case you don’t know, the Green Goat is an experimental “clean” switch engine now being used in Roseville, CA.  It’s a battery-powered unit with a small auxiliary generator on board to keep the batteries charged.  It barely makes enough power to move itself, so it has been relegated to the diesel shop as a locomotive mover.  It’s also a good thing it works near the shop because it breaks down a lot.  But hey, it’s a roaring success.
Just the other day Dick Davidson and a bunch of his toadies came through town on an officer’s special.  Just for the occasion a couple of Hostlers were put on the dead goat and the roustabout crew shoved them onto the main and up to a red signal.  The roustabout then hid out in the yard and Dick and the boys saw this “successful” engine patiently waiting a proceed indication.  As soon as the special was out of sight the roustabouts came out and hauled the goat back to the rip track, the Hostlers went to beans and all’s well on the UP. 
World-class railroading…

10 Reasons You Should Not Become A Union Officer

1) The 2AM phone call from the member who says, "We put a bunch of cars on the ground and they want to pee-test us. What should we do?"

2) You’ll find out who your real friends are. (This could get scary.)

3) Having your spouse say, "If I was one of your damned members, you wouldn't treat me this way" and knowing she's right.

4) Spending 97% of your time representing the same 3% of the membership, repeatedly.

5) Listening to that same 3% bad-mouth the union.

6) Having to actually read an agreement, instead of letting some engineer tell you what it says.

7) Everybody thinks you know somebody in organized crime.

8) No one shows up for meetings, but they all ask you what happened 

9) Trying to justify the bus.

10) Trying to remember what it was like to have a life.

Quote of the Month

“Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.” 
Winston Churchill

We Get Letters, Part 2

(This intercepted by your editor. It was in a trash can at the Roseville yard office.  Really, I dig through these all the time.  Really.)

Dear Mr. Davidson,
I just heard about your reward for the so-so performance of this company and I must write to congratulate you.  Where else but America can a second rate conductor from a third rate railroad rise to the pinnacle of power in America’s largest and most poorly run transportation company.  Well, seeing is believing.  I believe I’ll sell all my UP “shares” and other bullshit assets you and that band of liars and thieves are using to con the employees and stockholders, and proceed into my retirement without benefit of your “generosity”.   As a long time employee of the UP, I’ve seen some real interesting changes in the industry but the UP takes it all for sheer stupidity.  I finally figured out that this company is run for the benefit of management, especially if they are also large shareholders.  If the rest of the stockholders knew half of the bullshit you guys pull, they’d show up at the next annual meeting with a rope.  I’m glad I’m getting out, I just wish I didn’t have to end a good railroad career in this manner.  But what the hell, you and your incompetent managers can’t hurt me now.  So long, asshole.  I hope there’s a special place in Hell for arrogant, ignorant and greedy bastards like you and your lackeys. This goes for you, too, Mr. Evans.  And you should know better.

Free at last, free at last!  I’m free at last! 
Uncle Bob, A former UP slave.