Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Be Sure to Have a Back-Up Alarm Clock

Being late for work will get you fired if you are within the first 120 days of employment. If you are a passenger service conductor promptness if of course even more critical beyond the first 120 days. During his first few months of working for the RR my husband has learned a few things about making sure nothing goes wrong, as far as getting up on time.

First, I must say that my husband has NEVER (that I am aware of) been late to ANYTHING. He is always early, and has been for the past twenty years that I have known him. But even HE has had a couple of close calls. Learn from his experiences so that you won't have to go through the same thing:

1. NEVER TRUST THE HOTEL ALARM CLOCK. During his first few trips my husband relied on the hotel room alarm clocks, and he never had a problem. Then one day while packing for another trip he spontaneously threw in his own alarm clock into his overnight bag. He thought, "Why not have a back-up alarm?" It must have been his guardian angel who inspired him to do this, because on that very trip his hotel alarm never sounded, and he wouldn't have gotten up on time if he wouldn't have had his own back-up alarm.

2. NEVER TRUST THE WAKE-UP CALL system. The automatic wake-up calls that you can request have also failed him on his trips. Now he sets TWO of his OWN ALARMS. He sets a digital radio alarm from home, as well as his cell phone alarm.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Details About the Hang Test

I am going to provide you with details about the Hang Test that my husband went through a few weeks into his training. Just so you know- this test may be regional. It may be peculiar to a certain region in his railroad, or to his railroad in general. You might not encounter this test, or you might encounter something similar but different. That having been said, here are the details of what he encountered. Even if this test isn't exactly what you will encounter, it wouldn't hurt to prepare for it. It will help you to be as physically prepared as possible for the demanding job of freight conductor.

As I posted earlier, two people flunked this test. Maybe they would still be employed by the railroad if they had known in advance about the test, and if they would have prepared.

Here is an exact description of what my husband went through.

He had to hang on the ladder on the side of a car for several six minutes. At all times both feet were on the ladder. You can practice this on a jungle gym at a park or on a play set in your yard if you are luck enough to have one.

1. Climb onto the ladder. Keeping both feet on the ladder, hang for two minutes with both arms supporting you.

2. Then, keeping both feet on the ladder, let go with one hand. Use the freehand to perform railroad hand signals such as: Go Ahead, Keep Her Coming, Stop, Car Counts, Go This Way.

3. Continuing to keep both feet on the ladder, hang for 1 Minute with BOTH HANDS supporting you.

4. Keeping both feet on the ladder, let go with one hand. (This should be the hand that was holding on during the first one hand test). Hang one-handed for 1 minute while performing the hand signals.

My husband's instructor didn't demand absolute accuracy with the signals. Lots of people messed up the signals, and still passed the test. They were looking for the physical ability to hang on to the side of a car and to move the other hand to signal.

If you take this test they may demand a higher degree of proficiency than was demanded of my husband's class-- ask the instructor what the expectations are.

I am going to try to post diagrams for the hand signals in the near future.