It’s Monday, and Mondays are always work days for track maintenance. The rail crew was out early today, and although they packed up and left around 11:00 a.m., we’ve seen no trains so far. We’re thinking that the crew merely went to lunch and then when the were through with lunch, they moved around the bend to another section of track that needed work. If you’ll notice, all of the white bags of clips that used to sit alongside the tracks are gone now. We also watched them cut and weld a replacement piece of rail. Fascinating task to watch…
The eldest son, who has 19 years with Union Pacific as a Track Maintenance Equipment Operator, worked as a Welder’s Helper at one point. He worked to get experience and qualification for the position. In case there’s ever a time when his job is abolished, Welder’s Helper is a job that he can bid on. The idea is to get qualified in as many positions as you can, so when the end of the year rolls around and the company begins cutting off crews, you can bid on another position and if your bid is successful, you can continue working. It’s kind of like Musical Chairs — except it’s your livelihood at risk if you can’t find a seat. This winter the company shut down ALL construction and maintenance crews over the Christmas holiday. It was a rough time for most employees who were living paycheck to paycheck. But starting on January 2, 2016, new bids for positions were put up and there was a mad scramble to find your ‘seat’ in the game. The work is physical and very hard. You work in all kinds of weather, from freezing cold to blazing hot. The pay is good and the retirement is excellent, but you have to be strong to withstand the rigors of working outdoors in less than comfortable conditions.
A friend dropped off some blue jeans and jeans fabric that she’d cut out for a denim quilt that never quite made it. She also gave me some extra fabric she had. I love it and will do what I can to see that something is created from the fabric and returned to her as a thank you for her generosity.
I do have one sad bit of news. Sharon Greenelsh, wife of John Greenelsh passed away this past Saturday from Alzheimer’s. She had reached a point where she didn’t recognize John and he had to place her in a care facility. She was only there a few days before she passed. Sharon was a gentle person who always had a smile for you. She will be missed. John is one of the Depot Signal Crew members and we had breakfast with them and the rest of the crew once a month. Sharon and John attended the Depot’s Christmas dinner and that was the last time she was well enough to be taken out. It reminds us that we are mortal and that life is fragile.
Be safe, be well, and please be happy. Know that you are loved, and be sure to tell those you love that you love them. Be grateful for the moments you have in life.