Day two of training has mostly been spent worrying. There seems such a lot to worry about.
It turns out that when I said yesterday that I needed to grow a couple of inches in order to fit in with the hugeness I was right. Today we got off a train to explore sidings. These trains are much bigger than I’m used to and it’s a very long way down. It took about an hour to tour the various sidings in the area and the nearby depot and the entire time I was worrying about getting back on the train. Under the cab door is a two-step ladder with the first step being well over a metre off the ground. It’s a hell of a step up and my re-entry was more of an undignified scramble than a graceful climb. I think I need to go and find some muscles and get super-fit or something. When I stabled in the depot later it wasn’t so bad getting off as the concrete by the pit road is slightly higher than the trackbed so it wasn’t so much of a drop. This was a relief as I’d been worrying about that too since I worked out I’m too short and lacking in fitness to get on or off easily. That extra inch or so really made a difference. My worries about this are fairly realistic I think – if a driver can’t access their cab and show they can do that in tests then they are punted off the line. It’s not just a case of not wanting to look a total tard.
Still, I managed to look like a tard again when leaving the depot. The huge depot. The one with many, many places of interest including it’s own swimming pool. Yes, that depot. It wasn’t so much that I got lost but that I said I was going out one way and then somehow walked past it and met the person I’d just spoken to at that end. He looked a bit suprised to see me. I gave up and just went out that exit since it was nearest and there was no possibility of getting lost there. I am not good with roaming around places I don’t know and I’ll frequently miss my way. And frankly we’ve been to so many places over the last couple of days that my head is spinning. I’ve always said it was a ludicrous idea to do hiking right at the very start when everything is unfamiliar. I honestly think we should get a basic hello then thrown straight into stock training. That way we’d get to know one depot quite thoroughly over a period of two weeks and it would be the main place for the trains so it’s a good place to learn. After that do the hiking interspersed with route learning. It would make much more sense that way.
I think a lot of the issues today will pass in time. At the moment I’m still feeling a bit new and nervous and work has been so crap this last year that I’m probably a bit negative about my abilities. I have far fewer things to learn or to get good at than when I first started. I’m comfortable with things like handling passengers and talking to controllers or fixing defects (even if I don’t actually know how to do that yet). I know I’m a good driver and that once I learn the routes I’ll be ok with that. It’s just that the thing I fall down on (learning routes) seems like it’s going to be a big part of this job. I’m probably focussing too much on the hard parts and this is probably because I’m scared of what happens if I fail. If I do I go back to my old line. I came home today and really felt like I wanted to quit this and go back to my old line. But then I remembered that my old line isn’t really there for me anymore. Even if I go back I’ll just be harassed all over again.
I did some driving today in an empty train. This sort of impresses me as previously the idea of there being a spare train to give to trainees to fuck around on and explore the line with was unthinkable. And it really was like that with the signaller at one point asking the driver whereabouts in which siding he’d like to go next. The train is a bit complicated to open up and I kept forgetting bits but that’s natural at this point in training. It took me at least a week of driving to get completely comfortable with what is known as ‘the kung fu move’ required for other stock. At this point some of you may nod knowingly while others of you may say ‘what the fuck is the kung fu move?!’. I’ll have to leave you to wonder because the reason it’s called ‘the kung fu move’ is because it’s really hard to describe quickly. 🙂
The driving was ok. I think merely ok because I was worrying about things and because I was having to concentrate and try to work out where my next signal was. Part of learning a route is knowing where every signal is and how it usually works. Once you’ve got that down you can relax because you automatically look at the right point. But when you are learning you are heavily reliant on the instructor to remember to tell you which signal is yours, how it works and what speed you should be doing. This is fine with a one-to-one but on a cab experience/hiking day like today there are a group of trainees who will be asking questions and possibly distracting the IO slightly. I know that a good IO won’t let himself be distracted fully but I’m the type of person who likes to be fully in control of what I’m doing and having to flounder in an unknown ocean and hope that a stranger is going to notice the approaching shark fin does little for my peace of mind!
OK, that’s my doomy, angsty blog over with. You have to expect a little emo posting from time to time. I promise there will be more shiny posts in the future. I know a lot of my wibbling today was about confidence and that things will get better. And I did notice loads of things despite the worrying and which are mentally filed away under ‘This Is So Cool’ which I’ll bring out and enjoy at a later date. I promise to share the coolness with you all. 🙂