All The Live Long Day.


Senior Meanderer
Original Poster
Train conductor:

"You’ll be working on the railroad all the livelong day, but, hopefully, since you hold the power of your future in your hands, it won’t just be to pass the time away. You won’t have to ask Dinah to blow her horn because you’ll be tooting your own as you help people travel the world (or to and from work) in style to the rhythm of the train tracks. You are basically in charge of the entire train crew and making sure that train rolls into each station without a hitch; you are like a train-babysitter. You listen to that engine to see if it needs any extra tender love and care, and you also babysit the people on the train.
Before we get into it, we have to be brutally honest with you. The train industry is going to have to start resembling Snowpiercer in order to stay alive. It’s going out of vogue and they’re condensing their train schedules so they don’t run as often as they used to. That’s bad news for someone who wants a shot at working on one of them."

"The good news is, if you still decide you want to jump aboard the conductor train, you won’t have to sacrifice your bubbling, social nature! You’re going to have a pretty sorry train on your hands without any people—all over the world they’re joining hands to start a love train. Half of your job is going to be customer service and the other half is going to be working closely alongside the other railroad workers because you can’t be on 12 train cars at once, unfortunately.

At the most basic level, you’re in charge of all that ticketing business. You stroll up and down the aisle, menacingly, checking that people have their tickets and, if they don’t, you charge them the fee of a ticket at an inflated price for not buying in advance. You’ll most likely need a fanny pack to hold all that loose change, but we hear those are coming back, so you won’t lose your fresh sense of style (and with a conductor hat to boot, you’ll be an unstoppable fashion icon)."

"We hope you’ve been doing your scales and working on that smooth, buttery voice of yours, because that is going to be telling those passengers where they are, where they’re going, and what the deal is with the train (if there is any). You’ll be announcing stations and telling everybody what’s what. Are these poor souls going to be delayed? Will they be skipping a station? Are the doors not opening in one of the cars? Do they need to get down and get funky with it? We don’t know; you tell us."

"We both know people are needy—are we right or are we right? And you’re going to have a whole love train full of them—the sick, the unruly, the sometimes endangered, and the plain stupid. You’re kind of responsible for handling all of that. When somebody doesn’t know how to get to their destination but blindly boarded the train anyway, you’re going to help them navigate their way there. If Grandma gets violently ill or Little Peter-Pyro lights the bathroom curtains on fire, you’re on the scene, making sure that Little Peter-Pyro’s lighter is confiscated and he has a good talking to and that everyone is safe—and happy is a definite plus, but dangerous or unpleasant situations usually don’t put smiles on faces no matter how safe you’ve made them after the fact. That’s a life lesson for you. You still have to try."

"You’re responsible for the safety of the passengers as well as the entire crew. You are basically just captain safety and, Captain Safety, we’d like to introduce you to your new best friend, the Locomotive engineer. This is the person driving the freight or passenger train and is going to be your train whisperer, your train guru, the person you will be talking to constantly throughout the trip to make sure everything is running smoothly. They’re going to tell you when there are problems on his end so you can make an announcement or help them out and, likewise, you are going to tell him when there are issues on your end that they should know about. You’ll have a lot to discuss because you will be inspecting each car and the train for damages or malfunctions before the train even leaves the station. You’re supervising and talking with the whole crew, but, nowadays, the crew mostly consists of just you and the engineer. But that doesn’t mean it won’t still be like a regular gab-session, you gossipy railroad employees!"

"You’re more than just brains and conflict-resolution skills. We know that you are also a big, buff, muscular being with buns of steel. We can see that. That’s why you also oversee and are responsible for the loading and unloading of any cargo. This is mostly an issue if you are primarily a conductor on freight trains—that is ultimately your only real responsibility on a freight train because but some people on those passenger trains are weighed down with their souvenirs and the bricks they must travel with—they’ll need your help. You will offer them one ticket to the gun show and unload their suitcase from the car."

"Don’t put those muscles away, yet, because you’re also going to be opening and closing the train doors, switching, coupling and uncoupling cars (basically disassembling a train and moving things around—also a task more common for a freight conductor than that of a passenger train, but you’ll most likely have to do this at some point), and, the most exhausting of tasks, doing paperwork. You’re going to fill out paperwork for each of the cars on any given train, keep a log of the journey, keep a record of any shipments you may carry—your writing arm is going to get a work out."

Your workday is not going to be regular. Trains are always moving, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so 9 to 5 doesn’t even begin to cover it. Unless you’re on a train with a fairly short route (lucky you, you’ll have a fairly regular schedule), you’ll be working strange hours meeting weird people and sleeping at odd times. If we could think of another synonym for “unusual” we’d use it now to further explain your hours. That means having a family at home is going to be mighty challenging. You could be gone every other week in some cases. And holidays are not off limits, people, so you may want to go ahead and reschedule Christmas. But as you go and get some seniority, though, you’ll start to get some of the more desirable shifts and your life will start to make sense again.