Holidays on the railroad making the best of it
Yes, it's that time again. The Holiday Season is here.
Everyone is stressing over not having enough time, enough money, and whether or not their railroad spouse will be home for the holidays. You're already pulling your hair out trying to decide what to get the children, your parents, in-laws, siblings, nieces and nephews, not to mention each other! Alone, you brave the madhouse at the stores, adding a few more gray hairs, and purchase the gifts needed. Oh my gosh now it all needs to be wrapped. Finally, you have everything done, with a couple of days to spare, if you're lucky. Now, you start to think about whether your spouse will be at home for Christmas, or stuck out in the middle of nowhere - away from family, friends, and quite possibly, a place to eat.
You can only hope and pray that they will be home to watch the children as they open their packages on Christmas morning, and spend one day, uninterrupted, enjoying this once a year celebration.
Those of us married to railroaders assigned to the road reluctantly accept that our spouses' jobs are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We hold out hope that the railroads would respect one day a year, which, for most of the country, is a very special day. Unfortunately, and probably out of spite in this day and age, the railroads do not respect their employees enough to shut down even for a day.
It wasn't that long ago that on Christmas, most railroads would bring their employees home from their away from home terminals, and would schedule a shut down, if only for 12 hours, so that employees could actually schedule time with their families. But those days seem to be gone, at least on the Union Pacific Railroad.
Most, if not all railroad families have missed too many holidays and special events together to count, so we make the best of bad situations and celebrate when they are home. It's not the ideal situation, but we count our blessings for the time we have together. Maybe it will help to take a step back and realize we are not alone. Many other families have loved ones in the military that are also away from home this holiday season, fighting to protect us and keep us safe. Let us all be thankful that we have each other and our families at home on U.S. soil, and make the best of the time we have together, even if it is not necessarily at the same time as "normal" people.
Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - one and all!
© 2006 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen