Fifty Eight

If things continue the way they are going, I should be able to retire by age 58. To me, that’s a big deal. Because my father passed away at age 58. He never got the luxury of retirement.

For most of my youth (until age 17 maybe) my father worked long hours for a computer company. We hardly saw him. On his days off he spent it golfing with his friends. He wasn’t much of a family man nor did we do many vacations with him. But when he was let go from his job after fifteen years, he took his severance pay and enjoyed almost a year of golfing. Then he needed to work again. He put in long hours and wasn’t around once more. Then he was diagnosed with cancer. A couple years later- he was gone.

Not the life I want.

If I am still with CN Rail, it means I only have to work for a little over 15 more years to receive a decent pension. I’ve already been working here steadily since 2007 (minus layoffs at the start). Considering I have been in the work force for 30 years so far give or take, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And I’m already getting excited about it.

Since My father passed away, I have focused on time with my family. Only on a rare occasion have I worked long hours and put in extra time. At one point it was to pay for my wedding. Another was to afford a down payment for our first home. Now my time off is as valuable as the time I put in to work.

Knowing that I have put in 2/3 of the work towards retirement is exciting. It’s time to start planning what to do with the time off. I look forward to sharing that next chapter with my wife. Her and I are getting started on those long term goals. But first, it’s time to create a countdown. 5544 days to go.

Rainfall Flooding

Today was one of the wettest days I have ever experienced. Besides me being soaked through to the bone and getting prune hands- there was massive pooling of water everywhere. It was pretty miserable out there as if the heavens were crying.

It didn’t matter that I was able to dry off briefly between having to go back out into the rain. The work needed to get done. The thing is, once you’re wet, you may as well stay wet and just power through it.

But the flooding everywhere was intense. Water pooling so bad that even the back doors of a bus going by our train was draining water. At one point, our taxi that was driving us to another train almost stalled out going through what seemed to be a small pond. The driver nearly filled his engine with water.

But as the day drew to an end, the rain eased up. Just in time for the coldness of the night to chill me to the core. I was looking forward to the warmth of my home. My drive home was a good start, with heated seats.

Working Outside

I’ve been at the railroad since 2007. From my conductor class of 30 students only ten people remain. A couple of them moved to work in Edmonton, some in Kamloops, some here in Vancouver and a couple of us went into management.

When I hired on back in November of 2007- they told us that if we can survive our first winter, we’d end up being “Lifers“. Most of my shifts lately have been working outdoors at night, just like when I hired on.

Last week I was Working in the Rain. This week has been dry, but dipping below freezing. You’d think that over a decade later, I wouldn’t be working on the ground. But we’ve been extra busy these days. My body isn’t used to the physical activity. Sometimes I miss being in the office.

Over the next few weeks it’ll remain busy. A lot of us are feeling overwhelmed. The mental strain is equally as bad as the physical strain. I’m not sure if there’s an end goal in sight. My current mood at work is a zombie like state. It carries over into the home life- and that’s tough. I think a good night’s rest and a recharge will help.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but I think it’s just another train…

Fuzzy Mind

I’ve worked night shift the past few days. It has made me very fuzzy in the head. Today has been especially bad.

I feel like I cannot come up with coherent sandwiches sentences. I’m also confused as to what date it is. I keep thinking it’s two days ago. No idea why. As well, my stomach isn’t overly happy either. No gut. That’s a bad gut. Bad.

I know the solution!

Nap time. I love a good nap. Naps make me feel sort of human again.

Working in the Rain

Last night was a good night that turned ugly. As much as I could complain about working in the rain, it really wouldn’t be worth it. I kind of enjoyed it actually.

I worked as a train conductor last night, so I got to be out there in the elements with those hard working team members who do it on a regular basis. Note: I started as a switchman over eleven years ago, and I do enjoy going back to it from time to time. Even out in the rain, it’s sometimes nice to get away from being at a desk all the time.

I worked with a great engineer who was easy to get along with. We had an excellent start and delivered traffic quickly to our first destination. After lunch, we were sent off to rescue another train that had stalled. This turned out to be more challenging than expected. The extreme rain warning was in full effect and made it difficult to move our train.

Needless to say, to took longer than expected, but we succeeded by the end of the night. We had some extra help along the way and fantastic communication going on to make it work. My level of respect to those conductors and engineers who deal with troubleshooting on a daily basis keeps on growing. Especially as the winter is coming.

Working in the harsh elements always poses a challenge. I need to remember this when I get frustrated at my desk when trains aren’t moving. There’s more to it than just thinking it’s the human factors.

Invisible Box

Work can be a real struggle sometimes. It’s even worse when something doesn’t go right.

Recovering from an abnormal situation can require some unique thinking. Being creative in dealing with circumstances beyond your regular control can be tough when others don’t like to stray from the normal routine. Thinking outside the box is hard for some.

In the end, we’re all trying to just get along in our little sandbox. No need to kick each other while we’re down. It’d be nicer to get a helping hand to lift you up. I also think that people need to be willing to accept help when offered.

Working together towards a common goal benefits everyone in the end.

It’ll Get Better

Sorry for not writing much today. I almost put off writing my daily blog at all. I don’t know where to begin or what to write. Work has been a real rollercoaster of thoughts and challenges lately. After my day today- I just needed to come home and nap for a couple of hours.

Crazy part about it all- today was a great day for me. I got to enjoy being on the ground training people how to be switchmen. It’s one of my favorite things to do. There was just some other things going on elsewhere that made a tiring day.

It’ll get better soon. Once everything settles down.

Focus On Safety

Today was a different day at work for me. Usually I’m in an office running reports and moving trains. Today I got an opportunity to go out and talk with coworkers about safety concerns and open up some dialogue.

Safety is something extremely important that we all need to be a part of. I try and get out in the field for a bit every couple of days while at work. Today was an entire day instead. I enjoyed it.

While out I noticed a lot of excellent behaviors. Working at a railroad, people need to be kept aware of how unforgiving the work environment can be. We also need to look out for those that aren’t always on the railroad. Such as contractors and even the general public. If we can make a positive impact in each other’s lives, I’m satisfied.

I enjoyed talking to everyone. I’m also really happy with the discussions had. This aspect of my job is probably my favorite. Just an open dialogue trying to resolve issues.

Sing Away the Stress!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years- it’s that stress can trigger a multitude of emotions from people. Especially in a work environment. I’d like to think of myself as a calm individual at work. Which is great and relatively true. I tend to walk away from situations if need be.

But sometimes at home I lose it. Which really isn’t fair or fun for the family. I hate the fact that I lose control for even the briefest of moments. Losing my cool happens every few weeks or months, which is far too often by my standards. It’s usually because I have set high standards for my vision of my family. That sounds odd, but it’s true.

I need to let my children grow and make mistakes. I can only guide them so far before having to let them figure out the rest. Even if it means they don’t do things the way I expected.

It’s hard to remember that life isn’t a race to the finish line. We’re all going to get there at some point. No need to allow stress to get you there faster. It’ll make a person crazy trying to control everything in their lives. Especially if it means trying to control other people.

I think we should all sing away our frustrations. I enjoy writing nonsensical songs and singing out the lyrics in order to keep calm. Maybe it could be the start of a new musical.

I shall call it “STRESS“. Maybe I could steal some music ideas from “STOMP” and make a ton of noise with office equipment. Smashing of staplers, the hard slam of the photocopier door as you try and figure out what is wrong with the toner, the sounds of twenty people clicking pens in harmony… Who wouldn’t want to sit in an auditorium after a hard week at work and hear those types of sounds set to songs?

Million dollar idea right there.

Work Is Busy

Work has been pretty busy lately. It also doesn’t look like it will slow down either. Which is a good thing in the long run because it keeps the paychecks coming in. Yay money!

The problem is that it’s too busy at work to think. That’s the challenging part. The shift can be so overwhelming, that by the end of the day I just want to get home and sleep. There’s almost no time or energy left to want to even eat. That’s what days off are for.

If only there was a way to recharge in the middle of the day. Socially it’s frowned upon to take a nap at work. So the polar opposite is called upon. Caffeine is my best friend. As long as it’s just enough to keep my mind going and not my body vibrating.

Anyways, days off are approaching and this will give me a good chance to clear my mind and catch up on my naps.

How I love my naps…