I am leaving to follow my bliss. a little bit nervous ...
Dear Brothers and a few strong Sisters,
I took my last run, and will be leaving the railroad. I am leaving with a very heavy heart as I will miss being a railroader. Something tells me that no matter how much I think I hate the place, I will never stop being a Locomotive Engineer. I am third generation railroader, but only by Step Family and something tells me that I won’t be able to get that diesel laden job out of my blood. I will always be a railroader and I will never forget where I was, when I became a man. I will also never forget that I worked, where my own Step- Father did the same.
When I was a kid, I remember how cool it was to drive over to the railyard and go to the credit union. He would go inside and I would sit in the car and watch the rail cars glide down the hump. I remember how much pride I felt when I got a paper route and signed up to be a member of the L&N Credit Union. I do not remember my father talking union, however, I do remember him talking about the railroad. My step father is a strong willed- hard headed, hard worker. He taught me to put my back and soul into my work. He knew how to “railroad” and taught me long ago a saying that we all know is pretty much the answer to most questions out there at that crazy place, “that’s right.”
In 2001, I walked into a place that I had known about since I was about nine. My step father worked the signal gangs. Eight days out and six days in. I do not remember my father ever complaining once about his work. I remember him coming home from a 12-hour drive back from Florida and being so sun burned that all he wanted to do, was crank up the air conditioning and sit covered in thick white Noxzema until it was time to drive back down to Florida for his next set of 12 hour days.
I walked onto the property a married man, with a child on the way. I am leaving the property still a very happily married man with a teenager ready to take on the world. I learned many valuable lessons becoming a man on that railroad. I learned not to judge a book by its cover. I learned to be very patient. I also learned that “it is, what it is.” I met people to whom I did not agree with their politics, but when all is set aside, I learned that I was working with some of the most resilient, hard handed, brilliant people that I had ever met.
In 2005, I was promoted to the ranks of Locomotive Engineer. I got my learnin’ on the Texas, Monon and Shortline. I then found a place on the LOMS, Mainstem, Mainline and I was proud to part of our road! I was working the road that is lit up in red, on top of the building on Broadway, in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky where my step-grandfather worked his whole life as a clerk. L&N. Louisville to Nashville. I must thank all the fine folks who shared with me their craft. I must thank the folks who accepted me for all my quirks. I must say thank you.
I brought my talents to the railroad. I poured my heart and soul into my work. When I recorded my first CD of railroad music in 2008, we sold 200 copies out of a clerk van. When I brought my son to family day and we sang songs about our hard life together, I was a very proud man! When I served my Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers as secretary, I was proud to be of service! I believe in the union. I hope y’all never decide to throw the baby out with the bath water. The union could make you strong! Y’all are just going to have to learn how to work together. Just like those sports teams y’all so much like to talk about.
Find you a good center. Then find ya some good point guards. Get your wives and families involved! Find a few good cheerleaders. When the game seems over, listen to the coach in the locker room and come out re-organized. Y’all certainly know that I could go on for hours and many of you have listened to me think out loud, preach, lecture and ramble on and on. Thank You, I care and I couldn’t help it. That’s why I became a member of Railroad Workers United and that’s why I volunteered hours of my time and gave hundreds of dollars to the cause of bettering unions and our working conditions. I will still, no matter what I do, will be a solidarity member of Railroad Workers United.
Brothers and Sisters,
“You know we got a lot of work to do!”
Sisters and Brothers,
I am leaving the railroad, but I will always remember where I come from. I come from a place where fine men and women work day in and day out to provide this U.S of A with rail service. We are at the mercy of whatever this country wants to haul. We do the work. They run the railroad, we run the trains! The rules are written in blood, ours …. They seem to forget that. I will always feel the power of my friends at the railroad running in my blood. I am going to miss y’all, very much.
John Paul Wright
They might think they’re gonna replace y’all with computers, and they one day might, but remember, if they do, then there won’t be anyone left to care about the railroad. Care only comes from the human heart, not from a microchip and corporations are not people, my friends.
Y’all be careful out there, I surly am goin’ to miss ya!