Saturday, January 17, 2015


It’s been thirteen years since I retired from three decades of working on the railroad as a clerk. In 1971 my job involved simply driving a truck around the yard, hauling crews and delivering mail, several keypunch positions that communicated between various locations, and numerous types of office tasks otherwise. Being able to frequently move from one thing to another on that roster was initially a plus, my age, after two enlistments in the Navy yet young enough to enjoy change and, with more than four hundred slots to fill, somewhere someone was always dying, retiring, giving birth to vacancy in some manner. Seniority would eventually alter that somewhat. The introduction of the computer, however, was a killer and by the time I walked away, never to return, three huge national rail systems had merged into one that required no more than thirty-five or so individuals to handle that part of the business. What was once “security” for many men no longer extended to them such promise. Indeed, every so often my sleep finds me dreaming that I’m still employed in such manner, but facing a particular technical assignment beyond my ability to perform, so much so that my gut hurts pondering how to support my family when they fire me for my incompetence. Where do I go? What do I do now? It takes a few seconds after awaking with such fear to gather my thoughts as to reality as it actually is. How many today, though, have actually known this in their life, living now either on welfare checks or visiting homeless shelters? My boss, during that final segment of my employment, as men were being transferred across the country or else handed a small severance package, told me with a smirk on his face that people were stupid if they didn’t invest in stocks and bonds to protect themselves against future possibilities. The last report on him, after Wall Street crashed and the CSX decided they didn’t need his services any longer, was that he was divorced and selling insurance. There are no guarantees; tomorrow is in His hands; and any promise of peace is a matter of knowing Him through an inner connection. Such an anchorage has held me throughout whatever storm has come my way, an assurance confirmed each time this old sailor kneels at His altar. No nightmare can conquer that……

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