Coming from Pete, a sixty-five year old drunk Irish engineer, the sentence “The company is going downhill, don’t be surprised if your laid off..” Didn’t sink in until I saw lots of my co-workers cleaning out their lockers and turning in their time tables. Our veteran signal man was on a bench sulking. His name was Stewart, he had been here before Pete. I went over and asked him what happened. He said, “I had to take a massive pay-cut or get fired.” Pete was right, there were 20-30 workers cleaning up and packing up. So I decided to go about my day, My first task as a fireman was to meet with Drew, my good friend and partner or 5 years. Him and I had been in Primary School together. I’d always dreamed of becoming a musician, when that didn’t work, he told me he was working for the Great West Clare in Ireland. It was a big company that ran between County Cork, Mayo, and Ennis. When I first got there, they had introduced a service to Dublin. My dad’s friend lived in Ennis, it’s a pretty city. When I first got there, I was poor and looking for money. When I got to their recruitment office in Limerick, I took a peak in the yard. There were lots of bellowing steam locomotives pulling out of the yard, going to the station about 30 minutes away in Ennis. I had worked in factories back in london, feeding fires and stoking boilers. I applied for a job as a fireman and requested to work with Drew Barton. They said I could and I was handed my watch and time sheets. I was a fireman for the greatest railway in Southern Ireland. Drew and I went to celebrate at the pub.
Back to the present day, I got home from work and I went to put away some laundry. I got up there and I think my roommate was in the shower. I’ve always liked hearing the sound of the running water, it helps calm me down. So went to put away my laundry until she got out of the shower. As I was putting away the clothes I thought to myself, “How could this trusted company just throw away their veterans, teachers and mentors? I’ve been there for 5 years and I knew the line like the back of my hand, I could do anything they needed me to do, was I just expendable?” I was worried, yet angry, Something had to be done about this.
Going to work the next day was stressful, I walked into the office to retrieve my assignment. Jenny, my long time friend wasn’t there. She had introduced me to mechanics and my boss. She had always been really nice to me. Did she get fired like everyone else? This company is turning into a mess. HELL I even saw them selling one of our best express locomotives. I found Drew and we went about our day. We were going to make a passenger run all the way to Belfast. We were given permission from Irish Rail to run a train up to Belfast 5 times a year. If we can do it more often, it might get us out of our debt. It would be a night trip so we brought multiple crews, it will take a bit for the train to be ready. I came in about 2:00 and we had to start working on it right then. 5:45 rolled around and we rolled into the ennis rail station. The crew members were in a bunk car behind the locomotive. The passengers are loaded, locomotive is ready. The breakman gives the green flag and we set off. I stoke the fire and increase the water intake. The locomotives inches forward, the wheels slip briefly and we are on the way. The train is rolling through the countryside, passing vast fields of hay and livestock. The fresh irish breeze blows through the air as the sun goes down. 12:00 AM we pull into Dublin, where we switch crews. I move to the crew car and get some sleep.