It was one of those days at work that I will not soon forget. I tried, but here I am already writing about it. Sad.
I went to work thinking it would be a quick two round trips on the Yellow Line, followed by two almost as quick round trips on the Red Line.
Eh – not so fast…
But first, when did all this happen? Today? – but today, right now, is Sunday 12:40 AM and I have not yet done my Sunday work… or do I call it yesterday because in a way it is still Saturday today because I have not slept yet, so yesterday is really still today…
LAST NIGHT/AFTERNOON – I knew I’d get around it somehow… except “last afternoon” just does not sound as good as “last night” does. Do we ever talk about “last afternoon”? Well, we do now. (And who says a NorVegian cannot change English grammar stuff????) (For the BETTER.) ;-)
Last afternoon I found out I would not be relieved on my Yellow Line as planned; I thus took off from the 11th Avenue terminus, after having talked with Control about it at least twice; my relief operator would be at Interstate Rose Quarter. My next train – 47 – would be held for me at Rose Quarter, so I could jump on it and ride to Beaverton TC where I would relieve it. Great. I really wanted to run from IRQ to RQ to catch a train full of people wondering why they could not get down to the big beer fest by the Waterfront as soon as they wanted. And, of course, I really wanted to work out a little bit in the mild 94 degree weather.
I like Control’s idea of helping me cope with the heat/my health.
My relief operator walked calmly up to my train – he had NOT been running – and I said, “Hi – good train, thanks for coming. Bye.” Then I took off running toward a train I was sure was sitting in the heat waiting for that woman driver who, by the way, loves to walk all over town (that’s right – I walk part of the way to work now and then to stay in shape… I need to, ’cause age is creeping up on me and I am fighting it) – but running is NOT my thing.
I decided which route to take and off I went, dragging my wheeled backpack that suddenly felt like it weighed more than I do. (DON’T ask that!!!)
With my tongue hanging down a la dog, I sprinted, and rounded the curve where I could see – NO train 47. I let my eyes follow the tracks up toward Oregon Convention Center, and – yeah! – there was a train coming down the hill – and it had a red overhead. Life is good – and so was, it turned out, the air conditioning on train 47. A great blessing. I cooled off and dried.
We got to Beaverton TC a few minutes before I was supposed to take over the train, so I grabbed the portable radio, and ran to get my “comfort break”. Important. And while I was running to the break room (why the heck am I not skinny????) I called Control and told him I was where I was supposed to be, and he admonished me to drink LOTS of water to stay cool during this heat.
Yep, I know – and that is why I needed that COMFORT BREAK.
Sitting down in my easterly cab a few minutes later, my bladder was happy, but the rest of me was not. It was truly hot last afternoon/evening. I was glad I was by myself, because I was as red as a ripe tomato; I drank more water.
Now the fun really started. All our trains are having their APACU changed. APACU is our handy little abbreviation for the stop announcements and those reader boards that are inside the trains. It also controls the OVERHEAD and the signs on the sides of the low floor train cars.
When the APACU misfires – like mine did ALL NIGHT LONG – it creates more work – and more confusion. I don’t mind the latter – I hate the former.
My front sign was stuck on BEAVERTON TC. GReat – ’cause I was going to Portland Airport. If I were really going to BTC after I stopped at Sunset eastbound, I would have had to reverse all the way down the hill. My employer does not like those kinds of stunts.
I thought I had a Public Announcement system to help me out, but NOOO… Nada. Irritating. By the time I reached Sunset I had called Control 34 times. The controller on duty for the west side turned out to be very patient. He told me to call him if the APACU did not somehow “start working on it’s own” by the time I almost left his air.
I hate this transition time with the APACU. Sure, we need more numbers to punch in with this Green Line opening up because we have more destinations to go to, and more information to give to our riders. I get that. But why is it such a pain in the butt? – actually, more like pain in the finger since you try all kinds of tricks to get the APACU to work: “shift, shift, space”, or this one: “0 0 enter”. Nothing worked. And when my PA system went belly up, it put me in a pickle. Now I could not tell people where we were, or where we were going. I could also not tell them – and I never cuss – what I really felt about the APACU.
At PGE Park eastbound I was told to try the “0 0 enter” as I rolled past the 11th Avenue terminus. I was just about to try it when I was told to just “key out” – basically turn the train off while leaving the AC, the lights on and the doors working – and wait for 20 to 30 seconds at the Library stop. I did – and got my PA system back – but the overhead was still saying BEAVERTON TC. A few more stops, and I thought I had it all fixed – sometimes things just magically fix themselves on the train; don’t know how. It is one of the mysteries of train travel.
Then – darn it – I lost my PA system again.
And I was still going to BTC instead of PDX. Apparently. But not really.
I talked with Control a few more times on my way to Gateway about my APACU, but in my heart, I had just given up. I felt defeated. And I was sooo late. Of course, so was everybody else because of the heat. When the mercury hits 90, we slow down in high speed areas to 10 mph below posted speeds. That makes for safer travel – we kind of crawl along. We come when we come. All is well. All is cool – inside the trains at least, because our AC’s always work just fine. Unless they are broken.
Arriving at the airport, I had some extra work to do; I had been told to not only “key out”, but to go one step further, which is to “aux off”. “Auxing off” means we shut down the train completely, lights off, AC off, everything off. It has the same effect as rebooting a computer. I sweetly asked people on the platform to wait to board my train. I did not want to have people on the train while it was auxed off, because the doors do not work when all power has been shut off.
Of course, a couple of people did not hear, so security and I had to escort them off the train.
While my train was doing it’s rebooting, train style, I found time for a comfort break.
A few minutes later, I auxed on, keyed in – and the train worked as intended! YEAH. I was so happy. For about 30 seconds. After I called my signal and tried to close my doors, I still had an open door indication. I opened and closed the doors a couple of times, but that did not help. With the help of my now working PA system, I told my passengers I had to get out of my cab and fix a door. Control told me OK and off I went.
Of course it was the door farthest away from my cab. Door 1 in car 252 – and it just needed to be reset, not cut out (disabled). Great. That only delayed me three or four more minutes.
Getting back into my cab, I called up Control and – bless her heart – she almost cheered when she heard I was leaving PDX. So did I. My good mood, though, only lasted about three minutes… ’cause my PA and APACU died on me again.
On my way to Gateway I was told to give up on the APACU and just make my own announcements. Somehow I got the PA going again at Parkrose southbound; that lasted for a few minutes and then my PA died again.
Really, there comes a time in life when you start accepting such things. I had foolishly tried to input a destination code, and it froze the system – again. Grrr… I was getting moody. I told Control I was 15 minutes late, and could they please help me because I was kind of holding up the trains behind me – and I needed a break. Without dinner, I get grumpy. Without a working PA and APACU, I get grumpy.
Downtown they had me pull into the 11th Avenue turnaround, thus I got my break. However, it did nothing for my APACU. But, as I said, there comes a time in life when you start accepting…
Next trip to PDX, from 11th Avenue terminus: I was almost to the Airport when the train suddenly stopped. I knew I had not gone too fast for a speed trip (20 mph – they slow us down gradually into the airport platform) and I knew I had not hit the mushroom. For a split second it had looked as if somebody had pulled the emergency handle on a door. The train came to a gentle stop. Darn.
I called Control for the 168th time last night; magically, while talking with her, I noticed that the lights on my console went out, making it look as if all was well. To my delight (I am easy to please) the train moved when I put it in propulsion. I was only about six hundred feet from the PDX platform – yeah. I really did not want to delay the train waiting to leave the airport any further.
Suddenly, the train stopped again, just as I passed over the last speed trip (10 mph) by PDX (I ALWAYS go across that one at 7 or 8 mph to be safe). This time I could not get the stupid train to move again; my console showed me that this time somebody had, indeed, pulled an emergency door handle. Sigh… (We affectionately call this little stunt “being red knobed” – an affection, by the way, unlike any you would show your loved ones.)
I was NOT happy.
Once again, I called Control. I told her that I would be out with an emergency door handle. I locked my cab, walked through the front car looking for a red light over a door indicating it was not closed, found none, got out of the train with my crew key, opened the nearest door on my back car, and found myself face to face with two very drunk men.
Oh, great! That just made my day. Apparently they were upset that the sign on the inside reader board said that we were going to BEAVERTON TC – they did not want BTC, nor did they seem to want PDX. Another operator came and helped me – his train was stuck by mine anyway – and he saw that the door emergency handle hidden from my view behind these two yokels, was pulled. He reset the door for me and I walked to my cab while he stayed behind and talked with these two fools.
Their little stunt cost me another few minutes – all I could do was throw my hands up in the air. I parked the train, took a break and watched as the airport police dealt with the two inebriated men. They were not allowed back on the trains – I have no idea how they eventually managed to get to their destination. I don’t care. They pulled the emergency handle twice – it just did not stay open the first time. Pulling the emergency handle could cause injuries to unsuspecting passengers if it is done at high speeds because the train STOPS – not always gently like it did twice for me last night at low speeds.
And, very funny. Had I not laughed, I would have cried – the two drunks just proved to me that this had been “one of THOSE days”…
One more time I tried to fix my APACU, then gave up. A supervisor at Rose Quarter told me to just get the PA system working; I did, and operated the train with a BEAVERTON TC overhead all the way to 170th Elmonica – where I was VERY happy to be done with my day…
Well, I survived. I can say with 100 % certainty that last night set a new record for my being on the air. I would say I averaged about every 30 or 40 seconds. Really.
Ah, but tomorrow (or is that today???) is a new day – - is tomorrow Sunday or Monday???
I am sooo confused. I am tired. But, it has been very good therapy for me to write all this down. I needed it. :-)
Now, I need to get some shut eye…