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Snow again. I guess Friday was just a blip.

We had lots of blips today. And beeps. And wails. And loud roaring noises. This sort of thing often precedes an attack by dragons but today it was just the trains behaving oddly. Possibly somebody said something to upset them. They can be very temperamental at times.

Our first train was supposed to be one on which we learned to couple and uncouple. Because trains are actually two trains and not one it is possible to divide them up in the event of Srs Bidness occurring. Said Srs Bidness is never actually explained to us at any point but we still need to know how to do it. I’ve always just quietly assumed it’s something to do with a nuclear catastrophe and having zombies on one half of the train but it’s probably not wise to ask too many questions. Er…you haven’t read this, right?

They are rather more forthcoming when it comes down to coupling up trains. It’s a bit like CPR in that it is a useful skill to have even if we never use it. Sometimes trains irreparably break down and nobody can move them. Unless of course we happen to have a second train about our persons with which we can shove the first until it’s in the train hospital. Then the depot staff can stop by to visit it with flowers and grapes and so on.

So the plan today was to learn to fight off zombies and do CPR uncouple and couple a train a few times. As we are a big group we split between two trains and had a run-through with the trainer regarding what buttons to press, levers to pull, bells to ring and so on. Brimming with confidence we duly pressed, pulled and rang and then trembled in dismay as all hell broke lose. Turning sorrowful eyes to the trainer we were assured that this was Not Supposed To Happen. This is a phrase often said regarding defects on trains. I’ll just pause here to let you think about that sentence for a second.

So we now split into two further groups. One group kicked back and put their feet up while the other amused itself by wandering around the train working out what was going on in various areas and trying to figure out the defect*. In the meantime the trainer set about trying to fix it, occasionally roping in somebody to assist. But this train seemed unfixable so we were sent to the canteen while he consulted with the trainer for the other group. Shortly after we were joined by the other group who also couldn’t get their train uncoupled although that was Not Supposed To Happen.

The trainers had a think and worked out that an unrelated defect was somehow occurring every time we tried to uncouple our train. And also that god knows what was happening on the second train. So everyone piled onto the first train and set about pressing, pulling and ringing anew and then fixing the unrelated defect before continuing. If nothing else it was an education in how to deal with double-defects and things that are Not Supposed To Happen.

After lunch we split into groups again and went back to our respective trains. Our trainer gave us each a defect to solve though allowing the rest of the group to help if we needed it. Everything went well for the others but on my turn I opened up the train and all hell broke loose again. By this time I was used to the wails and screams and barely flinched as the demons flew around the cab. I set about diagnosis and was almost ready to state the defect when I tried the last step which is seeing if the train can move at all. Nope. Hmmmm, this puzzled me a bit. It puzzled the trainer too who asked me to do that procedure again while he watched carefully to make sure I wasn’t stupidly missing an obvious step like having rails to drive on. My vehicle-track interface skills proved flawless, however, leading him to frown and murmur ‘That’s Not Supposed To Happen’.

This train really wasn’t happy. I gave up trying to fix it and instead shouted over the howling and shrieking to say what I would do if something else hadn’t broken at the same time. This appeared enough to satisfy the trainer and we quickly grabbed our bags and abandoned train. I’m have every confidence in the depot staff and I’m perfectly sure they will be able to sort out whatever went wrong just as soon as they’ve stopped bashing zombie heads.

*In an unexpected turn of events, we very nearly did it.

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