July, 2004


UP Management Training, Part 23

From UPSpeak, comes the following memo:
TO: All managers, terminal officers and both customer service employees.
SUBJECT: Proper use of terms describing train movements.
FROM: Director, UPSpeak

Our last directive concerned the use of the term "staged" to be used in place of "parked" trains or cars. It is now necessary that in addition to the term "staged" we must add a new term to our UPSpeak dictionary. Henceforth, any train or car that has remained in "staged" status for five (5) days will now be placed in a new status to be known as "poised". Since we are a dynamic, building America railroad, we must always use terminology which reflects our true nature. "Poised" status conveys the image that the train or car in question is about to actually move. Attached is a quiz to help you become familiar with our new UP Speak term, "poised."

1. Shipper Anna calls to inquire about her load of frozen chicken that is three weeks overdue. Which is the correct UPSpeak response to Anna's question?

A. Please stand by. (Then hang up.)

B. Sorry, you have reached a disconnected number. (Then hang up.)

C. Go outside, look for buzzards, then follow your nose, bitch!

D. Yes, madam, your car is presently at Ostrom, a siding near Roseville, and is POISED to move.

2. Shipper Betty calls to inquire about her load of autos, pointing out that during shipment the model year has changed.

A. Please stand by. (Then hang up.)

B. Don't worry, Betty. There is a good market for used cars. (Then hang up.)

C. Our bottom-feeding, unfocused employees have been taking so much time off that we can't deliver your cars, bitch!

D. Yes madam, your car is presently at San Antonio, a siding near Roseville, and is POISED to move.

If you answered A or B to any question, you have spent too much time in Omaha. Answer C in both questions are the Roseville Super's replies and do not reflect human intelligence. Answer D is the correct response for our dynamic, building America railroad. Now you should be familiar with our new term, "poised". Use this whenever you speak to shippers and even among yourselves, as it reflects our new service-directed, building America railroad!

Sweet Dreams

Early on a Tuesday morning, drizzling rain, about 4:30, I'm sitting in the siding at Roster Poop, Arkansas, waiting for a meet with the next hot stack train. I know this train hasn't even left Pine Bluff yet, over two hours away, because radio traffic has revealed that MYO Numbnuts was in such a hurry to put a crew on it that he screwed up and drove them to the second unit of today's Shithouse Local, ten miles out of the way. Damn. I slide down into the ergonomically incorrect seat of this fine EMD product and try to catch a nap. 

"Gonna be another dog-catch day," my engineer, JW, grumbles.

I grunt in response and pull my Cotton Belt hat down over my eyes and slip into a dream.

Suddenly, before me appears a vision! Perfectly aligned, well-ballasted main track with green signals tapering off into the horizon! Oh, Lord! Double track! Signaled in both directions? We're clipping along at 70 MPH, going over switches without a trace of lateral movement. It's suddenly 8:00AM on a spring morning and it's 70 degrees and warming slightly. I open the windows and turn off the smelly AC unit. We blow effortlessly past fragrant fruit orchards, through small towns with kids waving at grade crossings. JW blows for the crossings and it sounds like a brass band! Our powered-up train sweeps through a broad curve and up a gentle grade into an area of cornfields and new-mown hay, moist and clean-smelling in the morning air. I crack my thermos and the rich aroma of fresh coffee wafts through the cab. I pour JW a cup and one for me. All green. Life is good….

"Hey, asshole, wake up. The friggin limo is here and we gotta tie this sucker down."

Well, I never thought of JW as eloquent but he says it like it is. It's 5:30 and still raining. We tied down the poor old drag and gave her a decent funeral, being the deadest train on the district. I crawled into the back of the carryall and tried to doze off again. As I drifted off I heard MYO Numbnuts say on the road channel, "No, no not over there, over here!" The stacker never left Pine Bluff.

As the Board Turns (a Soap Opera for Rails)

In our previous episode, our dauntless hero had been called in the middle of the night for a train he did not stand for, nor was the train ready, and there were problems with the power. Our resourceful Conductor Whipsawed had decided to take the time-honored approach to the problem by using the rulebook, his wiles and a few other methods in his bag of tricks to get his call busted. As you may recall he had the task of making two set-outs and a pick-up before making an initial terminal air brake test and the engineer had just reported that two of the locomotives were low on fuel.

Let the games begin, he thought as he reached for his radio packset, "UP 8888 East calling Hoseville Tower, over."

"Hoseville Tower, who’s calling?" came the response from the yardmaster.

"This is the 8888 East on tiepile track 3 and the engineer sez the two middle units are low on fuel, over."

Silence. The dinger must be gulping another slug of Maalox, then, "8888, I’m gonna have the MTO come out to give you some assistance."

Yeah, like he’s got a couple of jerry cans full of diesel fuel in his back pockets, he thought but instead replied in his most cheerful tone, "Copy that Tower, we sure appreciate any help we can get, over."

The grizzled veteran checks the time on his watch. It should be less than 5 minutes. Yep, even in the dark of night he can see the ominous dust cloud of an onrushing company vehicle. Moments later, a screeching of brakes and a cloud of dust announces the arrival of assistance.

"What seems to be the problem?" squeaks the voice of this youngster/manager.

"Well sir, we gotta lotta miles to cover between here and there and we think we need more fuel", the old timer states using his best hand-wringing, dumb-ass conductor impersonation.

"Well, have you got enough to get this train ready to go?" demands the pipsqueak.

"Uhhh, gee, all I did was report the low fuel, like the book sez to do" our intrepid hero responds, "I guess I coulda made that decision myself, but golly whiz, you guys don’t want me to make those kinda decisions, do you?" You have to love the way he wrings his hands.

"Look here, go ahead and start building your train, and I’ll do some checking to see if you can make it to the next terminal with what you have." replies Little Napoleon.

Hehehehe, now we can really have some fun….

Griever's Corner

Our "Hero of the Month Award" goes to Yardmaster Alan Voit for standing toe-to-toe with a brand new moron manager. In the exchange of verbal abuse, Alan proved himself worthy of upper management. The so-called manager is obviously going in the other direction…Good news, Bad news Dep't: They've re-established at least one Utility job here in RV, but we lost the L.R. Hulsey Memorial Coffee and Skate Herder position. Oh, well…Best-Dressed Switchman in History Award winner Rod Chandler returns to our neighborhood and becomes, yet again, a target of management. Brother Rod helped to jack the Shudak-O-Meter to new heights with his recent award. Can we do better next time?….Dumb-Assed Switchman Award this month to our most senior switchman, R.W. Smith. Seems Brother Smith was working his utility position and backing up the company Jeep Cherokee out of the receiving yard when he heard a scraping sound and noticed the view in the passenger side mirror greatly diminished. Having surgically removed both door handles and emasculating the mirror on that side, he is hereby awarded the title "Doorhandle Dick" and is entitled to the usual cheeseburgers and warm beer.,,,,, We are still totally immersed in trainees so look out for them, yourself and your job. Get this: newest chickenshit carrier move is to charge YOU, the Foreman or Conductor, if your trainee screws up. Bad job briefing, don't you know? Don't cut our new brothers and sisters short, but cover yer ass, folks!….As always and especially now, we need to remember that moving the junk around is secondary to going home in one piece. Work safe and look out for each other.


A Memo from Ike (This stolen from a waste basket in Omaha)

From: Ike E.
To: Dick D.


You know, this Iraq thing will be great for us. Thanks to the other Dick (Cheney, I mean) we stand to bolster our bottom line with lucrative consulting contracts from the Iraqi State Railways via the Pentagon and the Veep's office. You know we're the leader in kick-ass, take-no-prisoners, hard nosed, screw-the-employees corporate America. Talk about opportunities to make money! Just like Halliburton charging the Feds 1.5 mil to build a school for those rag heads, and then turning around and subbing out the contract to a scam artist in Baghdad for 200 grand, we can position UP to not only train Iraqi railway managers, but sell them US built used rail equipment. And when the dummies screw up all of this new stuff (locomotives, cars, our state-of-the-art computers systems--like the one at CMS) from the sale of which we'll get a hefty kickback thanks to the Bush administration's official sanctioning of corporate cartels (isn't it great to have the Supreme Court on our side, for once), we'll make money at both ends. As I noted above, we get it from training and sales, and once the equipment and probably the whole railway is wrecked by those turban-wearing turkeys, we'll get paid again for the losses by the Feds. I'm telling you, we are going to clean up. Cheney and I discussed this plan during a few rounds of golf at my mostly all-white country club last Saturday. We've got clearance from the highest levels. Funny thing that day, though. My black caddy, George, was off. Had this other fellow, very dark skin, quiet, and he was wearing some really strange get up. A bit like one of those third world types. Later, when I looked in my golf bag to make sure the caddy hadn't stolen my monogrammed golf balls, I found something in a tube labeled "RPG."

Anyway, making sure the good times continue to roll, I want you to send out a letter to all employees threatening them with dismissal if they don't support our man during the next election. Can't you see the potential? We're gonna lead by example: intimidate the employees, smash the unions, help our boys Bush and Cheney get re-elected so we can get America working for us!