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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:46 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8394
Location: Baltimore, MD
Even the most passionate rail history lovers and railfans of any experience--and some of them lurk and post here--will eagerly tell you the old adage "The easiest way to end up hating the railroad is to work for them!"

Now, to some extent this applies to any occupation--nursing, football, bartending, dentistry, moviemaking, you name it. But I keep flashing back to an episode of "That 70's Show" where Eric, the teenaged son, is whining and moaning after his first full day of work at some factory (I think it was a dog-food factory!), and his grouchy, cynical father, Red, replies: "Son...... the reason they call it 'work' is BECAUSE IT'S WORK!!!! If it wasn't work, they wouldn't CALL it 'work'! They'd call it Super Wonderful Crazy Fun Time!!! Or Skippety-Doo!!!" (UPDATE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXrwjLahUdw )

Volunteers get the fun--they get to come when they sign up and go home when they want or have to. Staff (paid or unpaid) are the ones that have to show up on Easter Sunday to open the building, be there on Tuesday afternoon to meet the fire-extinguisher company to go through the place to inspect and re-certify all the fire extinguishers, spend a day driving to the next large city to drop off the air brake parts at the shop that can rebuild them and another day to go get them, figure out how to repair the broken backhoe or forklift so they can even move the motor or air pump they somehow managed to take off, see to it that all the Christmas decorations are up in time for the Santa Trains, deal with a county inspector that didn't get the memo that you're a history non-profit and not a commercial enterprise needing a license or permit for some thing you've been doing for years, etc.

A last note for now: In the United States at least, it's now become fairly rare to find someone who, a decade or two into their career, is doing just what they set out to do at eighteen. A guy I know who wanted to create computer games is now a top applications coder. My mother wanted to become a sportswriter; she found it easier in that era to own and publish a country newspaper. A guy I know wanted to be a firefighter but couldn't pass the physicals; he's now owns a diesel truck shop that also services all the fire trucks in the region at a steep discount. One guy who wanted to be a state railroad bureaucrat ended up at the top of the state's aviation administration instead. A classmate that wanted to be a chef is now an EMT--and a part-time pastry chef. A guy who wanted to start a brewery had to stay in his high-paying city fire-fighting position for another three years before he had the pension with enough financial security for his kids' future to take the crap shoot (and it worked). A guy who wanted to be an engineer is now a top-level tech school teacher on electrical engineering.

I'm not saying you can't achieve your dream. But be prepared for flexibility.


Last edited by Alexander D. Mitchell IV on Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:19 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2126
Location: Northern Illinois
That is why I (and many others) suggested that if another four or six years of education after high school isn't in the cards, at least get trained in a trade. If / when you tire of railway preservation or need more money than it pays, you'll have something to fall back on.

However, by all means make sure it's a trade you enjoy. I suggested welding because I know skilled welders can make good money, and welding (real welding, not sticking bubble gum on metal) has great value in the locomotive shop. But, if during your first classes you find you can't stand the smell of the flux and are claustrophobic in the welding helmet, by all means drop the course and sign up for something else.

There is nothing worse than going to a job you hate each and every day.

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Dennis Storzek


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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:59 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5262
Location: southeastern USA
Trades I'd rate highly for this business: Welding, mechanical sills, manual and digital machining, plumbing, auto body (everything needs patching and painting a lot), general electrical, rigging, hydraulics, project management and basic financial management. This assumes you are grounded in good communications skills from high school. This gives you a leg up to enter the business as a person with useful skills who then learns the obsolete railroading industry with a head start. Exploring all these in community college / trade school will let you know very quickly whether you are suited or not in specific areas of skills. You don;t need to know them all at the beginning, but it's good to know a bit about 3-4 before you start applying, and you can develop a portfolio for applications in the process.

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"Techies never minded eating bits and jots of their work. They were grit and grease inside and out and could turn a pile of junk into a magical kingdom."

Andrea Hairston


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