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Today I have been mostly investigating the rules of irony. It turns out they are set in stone.

I had a slightly puzzling start with two spurious defects before I’d even got out of a siding. I say “spurious” but I’m not entirely sure. The trains have been acting funny lately with all sorts of things happening that shouldn’t. The current favourite game in the messroom is chucking around theories on what went wrong with particular trains and how to fix them. As I was alone in the siding I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off but I did spend some time trying to work out how the train could have been defective. For the first defect I couldn’t come up with anything mechanical. When you find yourself seriously considering the actions of a passing badger in the middle of the night you realise you might need a bit more coffee. So I had some and continued to think about badgers. It really was the only explanation for what was otherwise a logical impossibility. The second was a bit strange and I couldn’t fathom that one.

Once I got going the train seemed fine. I was met by a manager further down the line who informed me he was assessing me today. We regularly get assessed on various elements of our jobs and sometimes that involves a manager being present in the cab and sometimes just hiding out in the back. Depending on who the manager is it can be quite fun to have some company for a bit to distract you from the badgers.

Sometimes assessments require us to drive in and out of depots, stable trains or to drive or brake in a particular way to demonstrate competency. Today’s was more or less just about driving around so not very intimidating and I just got on with the routine. Routine is a pretty important part of doing this job – many mishaps are averted by learning to do something in one particular way and then doing it that way forever more. Getting taken off a train and put in a classroom to be assessed is more difficult because then I’d be trying to consciously remember automatic behaviours while being completely out of context.

We zipped up and down for a bit then pulled into the terminus. At which point I decided that although I only had a few minutes before I needed to get going again,  more coffee was a necessity. The assessing manager grabbed his coat, handed me mine as I got my bag and we shot outside to the coffee shop. As we wandered back I realised something was bugging me. Something about routine. But I wasn’t sure what it was.

I pondered over the last routine I’d gone through. Stop train, open doors, go get coat, turn key next to coat hook, grab bag, go get coffee…wait, that’s not what happened. That’s the standard routine but surely last time it went stop train, open doors, take coat from manager, grab bag, go get coffee? So…keys? Where are my train keys? Fuck!

Despite my manager maintaining that I’d definitely got my keys we got back to discover the train broadcasting an emergency alarm to the Controller. This is…unfortunate. And extremely embarrassing. I cancelled the alarm and shut down the train properly while I tried to figure out how the hell I managed to forget my key. It took me a while. Have you figured it out? Yes, I was thrown out of my routine by the assessing manager handing me my coat which meant I wasn’t near the key and forgot to turn it. So basically, I’d have passed that pesky assessment if I hadn’t been being assessed.

No, it’s ok, there’s too much paperwork involved for that level of irony. We agreed that it never happened. 😉