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Getting a cabride
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ClydeDET
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Re: Getting a cabride
 
« Reply #60 on: Aug 22nd, 2011, 9:06am »
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on Aug 21st, 2011, 10:11pm, photoman475 wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Clyde:
 
While I don't have the extensive interviewing experience you have, I'd have to agree with you.  
 
A railfan of any age going to the extent of following employees home is way over the edge.  It's one thing to be invited, which is obviously not the situation Gadfly was in.
 
I am peturbed about his NRHS reference.  In the chapter I was in, no one fit the hysterical or foamer definition Gadfly uses.  This may well not be the case in all chapters, of course.  In fact, we had a mix of retired railroad employees, active employees, and just railfans.
 
And if some of the stories the retired rails told were even half true, I have to wonder how they stayed on a railroad payroll.  
 
Alan

 
 
Never been around NHRS much - just no chapter any place i was, but the folks I have met who were part of it never struck me as hysterical. Some of them, like a lot of people with a hobby, were pretty focused on it and far more knowledgeable of minutia than the average bear, though. Run into that in a lot of areas. Firearms, for example. Collectors recognize far more variations (for example) in the Gsrand, M1911/M19111A1 or carbine than we ever did in the Army during the time I was wearing an Ordnance Bomb and somewhat involved in small arms maintenance.
 
That said, pretty clear Gadfly had some (at least one somewhat troubling) experiences that bothered him. Others of his complaints strike me as the sort of thing only somebody looking for an opportunity to be offended would notice or remember.


« Last Edit: Aug 22nd, 2011, 9:09am by ClydeDET » Logged
Gadfly
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Posts: 232
Re: Getting a cabride
 
« Reply #61 on: Aug 22nd, 2011, 12:56pm »
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on Aug 21st, 2011, 10:11pm, photoman475 wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Clyde:
 
While I don't have the extensive interviewing experience you have, I'd have to agree with you.  
 
A railfan of any age going to the extent of following employees home is way over the edge.  It's one thing to be invited, which is obviously not the situation Gadfly was in.
 
I am peturbed about his NRHS reference.  In the chapter I was in, no one fit the hysterical or foamer definition Gadfly uses.  This may well not be the case in all chapters, of course.  In fact, we had a mix of retired railroad employees, active employees, and just railfans.
 
And if some of the stories the retired rails told were even half true, I have to wonder how they stayed on a railroad payroll.  
 
Alan

 
 
I freely admit, and opologize for and to being a bit wary of fans. I did, however, say that these were the few that create lasting, and unfortunate, impressions and make trouble for the rest of the railfans.  I can only say that the kid I referred to was about 14, and he was just so filled with enthusiasm that he didn't realize that how aggravating his devotion to railroads and his questions were! When he sought out my house, that was just TOO much.
 
I also admit that we DID refer to NRHS as "the National Railway 'Hysterical' Society".  And there was no 'hatred', just amusement when these folks showed up out at crossings dressed in striped overalls, red bandana, fake 'railroad' pocket watch, loaded with cameras.  And, yeah, I'm afraid we made fun of them, mocked their costumes and their lingo.  ("A LITTLE ON THE PIN, OV-AH!  TOOT TOOT!!     SHOVE AHEAD!  WOOO! WOOO! CHOO CHOO! [IMITATING A STEAM ENGINE] WHATCHA GOT ON THE POINT?
[IMITATING A  FAN TERM WE NEVER USED ON THE RAILROAD"!)
 
Yes! It was rude. OTH, you gotta see the other side where the perspective is so different.  You read about old railroaders telling about how rough the life is.  But you don't believe it.  You have read all these wonderful stories about the wonderful, wonderful railroad and you WANT to believe it is an absolutely great life playing with trains, right?  Believe it!!!!  They aren't telling you this because they are just bitter old men; they've been thru the trainmasters SCREAMING at them, threatening to write them up, run them off the right of way!  They've spent the long stretches away from home.  And some railroaders get kinda MEAN.  Some make fun of fans, I guess either because they've had bad experiences with them, or because they see the devotion to railroads as silly because of their experiences with the company. However, the hobby of railfanning is  mostly harmless; I know that!  Unless, it interferes with the work, trespasses where not allowed, or creates a hazard.
 
I confess, however, that to the workers, we made fun because we simply couldn't see WHY someone would want to photograph an old freight drag that we saw every day after unending day!  BORRRRR-ING!  
 
I do, however, have reservations about unauthorized people riding equipment.  NS told us in no uncertain terms, report ANY trespassers or people riding on equipment. If we didn't, they'd fire US!!!!
 
GF


« Last Edit: Aug 22nd, 2011, 1:00pm by Gadfly » Logged
ClydeDET
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Re: Getting a cabride
 
« Reply #62 on: Aug 22nd, 2011, 1:02pm »
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Wary of dangers isproper - including the dangers of loss of employment through disobedience of company rules.
 
But sit back, pull all your posts up, and TRY to read them a if you'd just encountered them as a non-railroader interested in one of the indistries that created our nation and see what impression they leave.


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George_Harris
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Re: Getting a cabride
 
« Reply #63 on: Aug 22nd, 2011, 6:35pm »
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Remember the saying, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing?"
 
This can come into play here.  Many people know just enough to think they know a lot on the subject.  Thye also do not understand the issues or problems they can cause though ignorance and enthusiasm.  
 
One reason the old heads and retirees talk the way they do is because they are beyond the need to worry about retribution.  Whether what they say is real or fiction, whatever they are saying is relevant to the way things were, not the way things are.  
 
In the past there was a lot less concern about liability, adn also about potential terrorism and vandalism.  I wrote a paper my senior year in college about the Frisco Bridge at Memphis.  A lot of information was foundi in the Memphis library in newspaper and other articles written during the time of construction.  Don't know they are even accesible now.  I also went up to the city end of the bridge, measured the distance between truss centers and deck railings., walked across the highway bridge taking pictures, and did a few other things in the way of research that would get me arrested today, even as a 60 plus year old civil engineer instead of a 20 something college student.  There are plenty of people that do not recognize the changes.
 
Those who know what I am currently doing know that I say very little to nothing about the ins and outs of the job,  Why?  Because I do not want to have to explain why I said or did it or be accused of giving away inside information.  As someone here said, Don't put anything in writing, internal email, external email or otherwise that you cannot explain or do not want to explain in court or do not want to see in the press or hear on the evening news.    
 
It is simply reality for the time and place in which we live.


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photoman475
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Re: Getting a cabride
 
« Reply #64 on: Aug 22nd, 2011, 10:05pm »
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George and Gadfly, and interested others:
 
You're right about the times changing.  Given existing attitudes about what constitutes "homeland security", very rarely do I go trackside.  It has to be a major event, such as a steam excursion, before I go trackside anymore.  The more people around for an event like that, the happier I am.  Less chance of getting hassled for being trackside, you see, since there will be a lot of people around and the press to catch irresponsible railfan behavior.
 
From reading Gadfly's posts, he mentions NS.  I can guess then that it is, or perhaps was, his employer.  
 
Now, this brings up some questions:  NS has had a reputation, deserved or not, of being anti-railfan, since terminating the steam program.  That means it does not want people trackside, in addition to the understandable report all tresspassers idea.
 
NS is bringing back a steam program, meaning that people WILL be coming trackside.  What is your attitude, Gadfly, to NS bringing back a program DESIGNED to have people trackside?  If you are still employed there, how will you reconcile the ideas you've expressed in your posts which now appear to be contrary to NS's own ideas?  What happens if you are called to work one of these runs?
 
Gadfly, you could be approached by people asking you about the locos or your job while on one of these runs.  What kind of public relations person will you represent for your employer to the person who asks you questions?
 
Clyde is right in what he is asking you to do.  I am pointing out a circumstance that you could very well be faced with in the course of your employment.  
 
Alan


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RRPolice
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Re: Getting a cabride
 
« Reply #65 on: Aug 23rd, 2011, 12:51pm »
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I have been reading about the "battle" between the railroads and the railfans for a long time and honestly, I do not see why it is still such a big deal.  I understand many of the posts right after 9/11 but I think the debate has gotten a little out of hand.  I can't speak for every RR, RR Police officer, local police, or the government but I can speak from one officers viewpoint. I know most people don't want to hear from the evil railroad police but for what it is worth, here are a few comments from the "other side".
 
I understand why railfanning is so popular and while I may not share the same passion for watching the trains, it does not mean that I do not understand it.  I myself enjoy the historical aspect of the railroad and I am grateful to the railfans of the past for preserving the history of the railroad and this country.  Most of the railfans I come in contact with are honest, rule abiding people and should not fear that because you are "trackside" you are going to be beaten and dragged off to some dungeon.  However, there are some things you need to keep in mind about the hobby of railfanning.  For good or bad these are the times we live in.
 
1st- Railroad property is PRIVATE PROPERTY.  It always has been.  I am not saying you can't find exceptions, like industrial owned tracks, city owned tracks, etc but even on those exceptions, you are still trespassing without PROPER authority.  As George posted times have changed. I understand there was a time when you could pretty much go anywhere and take pictures or get a ride if the crew would let you.  However, those days are gone.  I remember as a kid getting to go up into the cockpit of the airplane and meet the pilots but those days are gone too.  You may be lucky enough to find a small short line that will do it but the big class 1's will not.  Gadfly is correct. Unless they have proper authority, any crew knowingly giving a ride to anyone is subject to discipline and possibly losing their jobs.  Most people blame all of this on 9/11 and I will admit that has had a lot to do with it.  However, we also live in a very litigious society and people want to sue for anything and everything.  This also has a lot to do with the trespass issue.  The RR's don't want you on property because they don't want the liability.  If you do want to ride or take pictures on property, please seek the proper authority.
 
2nd-  Trespassing is a big deal.  I know railfans and photographers love to get their pictures but some push the boundaries too far.  Now I separated railfans from photographers because honestly freelance photographers are far worse than railfans.  Most railfans understand the score and give the RR space but the freelance photographers are far worse about throwing safety to the wind and taking dangerous chances.  From my perspective, I cannot always tell if you are trackside to just take pictures or if you are there to steal from the trains, steal track material, vandalize, or sabatoge the railroad.  My job is to keep the RR safe, not to harass you.  However, this is a two way street.  If you are stopped by the RR Police or the local police you can become irrate, tell me all about your civil rights, and explain to me how I am a rent-a-cop and you will have my badge (been done) or you can do the following:
 
BE Nice - You get far more with honey than vinegar
Present your identification upon request - what does it hurt?
Explain who you are and what you are doing
If asked to leave - Leave
 
Now as for photography, with a few exceptions (National Security, etc) you can take pictures of trains, infrastructure, etc. from a PUBLIC place.  If you are trespassing then be prepared to be ticketed, arrested, etc.  Yes, we can take your camera if arrested as it is evidence of a crime (aka trespassing).  If you are on a PUBLIC place the pictures are all yours.  Most police do not understand or have even heard of railfanning.  My suggestion if you are stopped is to be nice, give the officer your ID (he just wants to establish who you are), explain that you are a railfan and what the hobby is about, if he asks you to leave, then leave.  If you are in a public area, note the officers name if possible and the department he or she works for.  Then contact the department later and speak with the sheriff, chief, supervisor, etc.  Explain the situation, nicely.  The officer may just need some training in this area.  I say this because police officers deal with confrontational people on a daily basis.  If you are nice, we want to be nice but if you start with an attitude then we go into a defensive mode.  This is especially true for the railfan because if the officer has never heard of a railfan, you don't want their first experience to be negative.  Make them think railfans are nice people and they will be far more understanding of the hobby.  Now I know, not every officer will be nice to you; no matter what you do.  There are A-holes in every profession, mine included.  Still, you will never win the battle or the war being rude.  I bring this up in trespassing because people are hurt or killed every year by the train they swear the will hear coming. Please don't be one of them.  Victims of train collisions involve the person that was struck, their family, the community, and yes the train crew.  Remember, I have to balance the safety and security of the RR with your right to take pictures.
 
3rd- Proper Authority does not include asking the conductor, engineer, track maintainer, etc.  If I stop you because you are on a bridge, in the middle of the track, in a yard, etc and you reply that some employee said it was ok, that is not good enough.  When we allow someone on property with proper authority it usually includes a waiver (back to liability), they must have on proper safety gear, and they will be escorted around.  We do allow people, groups, and organizations on property for special events but it must be signed off by the railroad.  My suggestion is to contact the railroad's media people, the RR Police, or go to the RR website and find out who you need to speak with.
 
4th- RR Police are not rent-a-cops or security guards.  We are commissioned police officers who specialize in the security of the RR.  My main job is not to harass law abiding people who just want to enjoy a day of watching trains.  I am more concerned with the thieves, transients, and trespassers.  If I do approach you, just say hello and understand that I am just trying to determine what you are doing.  Think of this as a time to build a relationship with the RR Police or the local police.  I have many regular railfans that I see out and I am glad to talk with them and give them a heads up on what is coming their way.  Again, this post is not to slander the railfan, I respect your hobby but please respect the limits of that hobby. Most of you do this, but it is the 1% that don't that cause most of the problems.  If your fellow railfans insist on breaking the rules all they are doing is causing problems for you.  Gadfly was correct, the railroad is about the business of moving freight and they do not want to see anyone hurt.  The rules he was speaking of are true for all the big RR's not just NS.  I know many of you will not agree with this post and I welcome any constructive comments.


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Gadfly
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Re: Getting a cabride
 
« Reply #66 on: Aug 23rd, 2011, 1:39pm »
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Dittos to "Railroad Police". And now for an explanation of the origins of the hostility towards railfans. Oddly enough it really wasn't just railfans that caused NS's  'vendetta' (if you want to call it that), but there an incident that occurred involving a young boy some years back while I was still working.  Seems this 13 y/o kid and some buddies  went out onto a  narrow trestle upon which there were no "step-outs" or platforms on which to get in the clear of imminent trains.  A train came along, some of the boys managed to get off the trestle; the boy in question was run over and killed.  The trestle was marked, "PRIVATE!  RAILROAD PROPERTY!  NO TRESPASSING!  VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED!"  The story appeared on one of the MSNBC, or other, outlets.  
 
I do not mean to belittle the death of this poor boy or his parents, and I saw the story that night.  The talking heads made it seem as if tho that bad old train, that mean old railroad company, deliberately set out to find, run down, run over this poor innocent little kid!  The parents, of course, were suing Norfolk Southern.  Despite the fact the kid was trespassing, despite there were signs on the bridge telling people NOT to enter, he did.
The sniveling, snot-nosed, greedy lawyers made out NS to be horrible villains, and so did the news media.
 
It not ONLY  enraged NS, but pissed off most of the employees because the company already had had a huge investment in safety both in employee safety and in operations. Now there's these people on TV telling the world how horrible NS was.  We were people-killers!  We were worse than murderers (to listen to the sh--faced reporters! And it absolutely INFURIATED the company.  That was a Friday night.  Monday morning, the company showed a video (partial) of the biased program and told us both verbally and in memos passed out, we MUST challenge ANY trespasser, ANY unauthorized rider, ANY suspicious-looking persons as quickly as possible and notify our supervisor or NS Police by radio if possible.  They made us even report people walking along the right of way, using the RoW  as a "road"! Failure to do so would be grounds for dismissal.  They were deadly serious about it.  For once they had the support of the employees, and everybody AGGRESSIVELY reported any non-authorized person!  I reported quite a few.  I am sure there were other incidents that helped to cause this, but it was this ONE incident that really torqued 'em off
 
 
As to the steam excursion program,  this is probably influenced by Mr Moorman who is probably to "blame" for the color scheme on the business train.  Look at it and see if you recognize a LOT of "Southern" in it!  The steam program does have benefits to the company. It also has its dangers and safety issues as well. In the days of the original program, while it was interesting and "fun", employees would try to mark off to keep from having to deal with the crowds, the noise, the over-zealous fans trying to get pictures.  How would YOU like to have to walk 1/4 mile to work because the lots were full since there was a steam train  in town?  Have you ever a seen  a Terminal Superintendent shut down a yard because crowds were swarming across the yard tracks like ants, and tell the railroad police to "get those f***g people the h*** OUT of the yards so I can move some freight!!!!!!"    
 
Sure, there are public relations benefits, but are they really worth all the hassle?   That ain't up to me. Obviously, NS thinks (or Wick Moorman) thinks its worth it. So when they come back, of course, I'll watch 'em by. I just don't have to WORK with 'em any more.  I confess, I might even giggle a bit at the so-called garb, the fake watches, the myriad of patches on old-time "railroad caps".  Let 'em roll!!!
 
GF


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photoman475
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Re: Getting a cabride
 
« Reply #67 on: Aug 24th, 2011, 10:36am »
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Gadfly:
 
Yours is the first time I've seen anywhere an explanation of why NS developed a "vendetta"-your term-against trespassers.  It does make sense and I don't have a problem with it.    
 
As to the NS steam program, I only saw two instances of it in operation-once in northern and once in central Illinois.  Neither instance was near yards, so I cannot speak to walking through crowds to go to work.  The occasions when the BNSF has run steam in my area requires a stopover at their yard facility for servicing, and they make sure to park the train in an area where people can see it but does not affect yard operations so the terminal superintendent is not having the meltdowns you describe.
 
I can, however, speak to having to walk 1/4 mile to work dodging panhandlers and drunks, as I am sure you can too.
 
RRPolice:  I have no argument with what you say at all.  I doubt that people like Clyde, or any other responsible railfan, would either.
 
I would suggest, however, that you may want to check out what Steve Barry, the editor of Railfan and Raiload magazine, has to say about his experiences with some of your collegues in blue while on a sponsored excursion trip.  There are numerous other instances of railroad or municipal police hassling railfans taking photos from PUBLIC property.  There are plenty of non-railfan related instances, too.
 
As you mentioned, there are plenty of A-holes in your line of work.  Since I have no further desire to have to explain myself or my almost former hobby to any officer coming along, or potentially have to hire a lawyer to defend myself in court because of an A-hole's problems with photography in public places, I very rarely go out railfanning.  That very same 1% of, shall we say, "overzealous" police officers also ruin it for the rest of us responsible ones.
 
I have no doubt, RRPolice, that you and the vast majority of your brother officers do respect railfans just as I respect the fact that you are doing your job just as you are commissioned to do.  All I am saying is that it goes both ways, and your 1% and my 1% ruin it for all of us.


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ClydeDET
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Re: Getting a cabride
 
« Reply #68 on: Aug 24th, 2011, 3:24pm »
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Cured a cop in Temple, TX of being over-sealous a few years ago. Was on the pedestrian sidewalk of the bridge to the  south/east of the station in Temple, grabbing a few pictures of the southbound Texas Eagle. Temple cop took exception. I was polite. i provided ID. I declined to leave the pedestrian sidewalk where i had a right to be. I asked for his card - and inquired as to the administrative number of the department - which made him suddenly visibly nervous and blusterym but he priovided it. I then took out my cell and he asked "What are you doing" and i told him planned to call the admin number and ask for the community affairs officer if they had one and the chief if they didn't. And - i did. Got the Assistant Chief as the CA officer wasn't in.  Was asked where i was and what had gone on. Answered, with the cop getting more and more nervous. Asst Chief asked me to hand the cell to his officer. i did. Guy got REALLY nervous, handed the phone back. I was asked if i could wait there a few minutes and i saif "Yes". Took about six minutes for an unmarked car to arrive. Suit got out, identified himself as Assistant Chief. Asked if I had a problem with his officer, in any more detail than I'd already provided. Told him I had zero problem with being asked who i was and why i was on the bridge with a camera - but  didn't appreciate being told to leave a place i had a perfect right to occupy for a legal reaon - and that after i declined to depart the officer had become obviously aggressive in his demeanor.
 
Cop was asked if what i said was true and he essentially said "yes, but..." and was told to get in his balck and white and go to work, which wasn't to tell people they couldn't do what they were entitled to. I was given an apology and that was the end of it. Fella mentioned that the bridge was a favored spot for picture taking and while they (Temple PD) usually checked to be sure that a person there was really taking pictures and was aware that they needed to stay on the sidewalk - and NOT cross to the other side while on the overpass as it was dangerous to do that - there wasn't supposed to be any "you can't do that, get off our bridge" and he would make sure that the patrol divisions were reminded of policy. I was never anything but calm and polite, but i wasn't in a mood for officousness that day, either.  
 
Had a friend who was an attorney in Temple and mentined the incident to him a few months later when i ran into him. He told me that one of hois clients was a Temple cop who said they had gotten chewed out as a group about somebody hassling people who liked to take pictuires of trains. Told it was an ddd but harmless behavior and as long the people with cameras were on public property and not in the street, to leave them alone - next guy who got him called out about that would get three days off to think about it. Cop seemed to think that was a little hard, but took it to heart, figurig he needed all his pay and not wanting to find out if the suits were serious.
 
These days, I wouldn't care to trespass (never did care to do that, though I suspect i may have actually been on railroad property next to a few croissing signals or no trresspassing signs - far side of the the sign or crssing signal, not the side closest to the tracks). Wouldn't ask for a cab-ride or permission to get on the equipment from a crew now. That is what the suits are for - ask them, sign a release if the answer is yes, have at it.
 
Be nice if it was like the first time i was in a locomotive cab, a bit over sixty yeas ago. Grand-dad took me down to Union Station in Dallas (took streetcar from Oak Ciff - hooray for steel wheels on steel rails) to see the trains. DUT #7 0-6-0 steamer was working the express track. Grand-dad said to wave to the engineer as it chuffed by where we were standing on the platform.  I did, of course, A few minutes later, the engine came back by and topped. Enhineer came to the gangway and asked if i;d like to come up and see the inside - which 6 year old Clyde was certainly willing to do. Got to sit in the engineer's seat, pull the bell cord (harder to ring that I might have guessed) and even pull the whistle. I wouldn't expect that now - but sure made a life-long railfan out of me. There are things about our modern world i like, things that are indeed better now than then. But not everything....


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Gadfly
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Posts: 232
Re: Getting a cabride
 
« Reply #69 on: Aug 25th, 2011, 6:33pm »
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There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a rail buff. It's a harmless hobby, that's for sure, and one that is somewhat embedded in the American psyche for reasons already explained.  I also would take offense at a cop telling to leave public property.  I might, rather than to risk arrest, leave, but I would most definitely raise the issue with his supervisors.
 
My comments are most certainly directed towards the minority who were kinda "over the top". I mean no harm by it, but OTH, you gotta admit the extremists among us can cause some really negative press amongst rails!
I made one fella man really mad at me and he never spoke to me again. I sort of hate that, but I was simply doing my job.  The old boy had been kind of "petted" by the agent at an outlying station by allowing him to thread up waybills in the rack.  He had tried to get hired, but failed the physical.  So "Bill", the agent, would let him hang around the station and line up waybills.  Actually, this was against the rules because waybills were proprietary information to be shared only with the railroad and the customer. There was a specific rule against having non-authorized people in the station plus union rules about "craft" work which was, and is, jealously guarded.  I was called to protect the Agent's job one morning and while I was clearing my Local to go to work, this "fan", an older fella, waltzed in my station and started thrumming thru my waybills. I had left the door open because I was expecting the crew of the Local to come in and pick their Clearance Form 23A and orders.  I challenged the guy, and he proceeded to ignore my order to stop that!!!  He was very reluctant to quit and whined something about how "Bill" always let him do that,
 
"Well, I'm not Bill,, and it's against the rules, so STOP", I told him in a nice tone.
 
He kept on messing with the 'bills.
 
"Now, Joey, I told you  it is against the rules, and if the Trainmaster was to walk in here suddenly, I'd be out of service on a rules violation!  Now get OUT of those waybills before I have to call the railroad dick!!!!"
 
He whirled around and kinda scolding, kinda whining, "WELL,  I AIN'T HURTIN' NOTHING; YOU THINK YOU ARE SO SMART!!!  He was red in the face as he started to stomp out the yard office door.  And I said something that hurt him, and I regretted it to his death. I blurted it out without thinking:
 
"AND YOU, JOEY, ARE A PRETENDER, A WANNABE, WHILE I HAVE TO DO THIS JOB WITHOUT GETTING RUN SLAM OFF THE RIGHT OF WAY, OR GETTING "WHAMMY TIME" FROM THE TRAINMASTER!!!!!!!!"
 
I wish I hadn't said it, but in the heat of the moment it slipped out, and it hurt him, I could tell, as he slammed the door going out.   He would never talk to me again, and I'm sorry! It DID teach me to try to be a bit more diplomatic in my dealings with fans----even with the occasional fanatic ones
that we applied names of ridicule for in private  


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