I wish Matt would blog. He has learned so many interesting things on the railroad; every day he comes home and tells me something new and I wish he would write it down so that knowledge isn't lost. It's not big-deal stuff: tall tales, histories of nicknames (everyone has a nickname on the railroad), hints and tricks and what things mean. Sometimes you tell who's running the train by how he blows the whistle at crossings. You can figure out what mine the train filled up at by how the taconite is loaded into the cars. Hand signals are their own language, and while you can learn the vocabulary, it takes years to be fluent and develop your own accent.
Working in what is essentially an 19th-century-style job (see also: newspapers) is such an unusual opportunity and I'm glad both of us have had the chance to do just that. (Matt's job is so old, OSHA doesn't apply to railroad workers!) While the schedule is a pain in the ass, I'm proud of the work he does and of him for making the switch to this in the first place.
The problem is, I've been slacking.
I talk a lot about how one of these days I'll take a whole day and make a big mess o' pasties for him to take to work, like a real engineer should. I work at home, right? I should have the time and gumption to do something like that. But I haven't. During fall and winter, I think I do a pretty good job of making big batches of soup, stew, pot pies, roasts, and so on, so he can bring home-cooked food for supper. The problem is, if he is on a road job (as opposed to shuttling cars around in the yard), he doesn't have access to a microwave. There is a radiator in the train he can put his food on to warm up, but it would melt the Tupperware pieces we store leftovers in. We're looking into stainless food storage, but in the meantime, if he has a road job, he either packs a sandwich and a bunch of fresh fruit or vegetables, or brings along soup or ravioli in a pull-top can and puts it on the radiator to heat up.
The other day, he was working a road job with a new conductor, a young, earnest guy, former military, Catholic, nice wife with two kids and another on the way, really likes his new job. The two of them hit it off and found they felt the same way about a lot of things, such as what this job should entail, and what role the union should play, and so on. They pulled out their meals and started eating their lunches. The new guy had some leftover pot roast and potatoes and (IIRC) some homemade pie in a nice lunch box. Matt put his canned Progresso on the radiator to warm up and started peeling a clementine. The new guy looked at the leftover plastic grocery bag Matt had brought his food in, then at the forlorn can on the radiator, then at Matt, and said politely, "I thought you said your wife was at home?"