I can "see" it and *not* see it at the same time. When I went in '81, I was already an employee---had been for 4 years. I was furloughed when the Track Material yard was moved to Irondale, AL. I didn't stand for a job---even if I wanted to transfer. But Southern had a policy then that they would place existing/furloughed employees in another craft when vacancies occured. This permitted one to keep his "current connection" and the Personnel guy interviewed each one of that were cut off asking what we would be interested in doing. I told him I'd take most anything. Meantime, they needed a Relief Clerk up in the office at the same facility, and I received a call from my then-boss, Mr. Dover. Would I be interested in being a relief clerk? It was single-point seniority, had one clerk that could not be bumped by a Line of Road clerk. I couldn't accumulate clerical seniority, but I would be working temporarily until they found something else for me. This also created a lot of envy among the other laborers---some of whom had higher laborer's seniority than I. MUCH higher. But the company could choose anybody they wanted to because there was no connection between the laborers in the clerical agreement tho they, too, were under the then-BRAC union. OH, the guys didn't like it" A-TALL" that this youngster waltzed in, got furloughed and next thing you know, he's dumped his filthy coveralls for casual slacks, and the remaining laborers were still doing manual labor (Stores Department). I can't say I blame them, but I was not about to turn down work, so long it wasn't "scab" work, and I didn't see being offered a job by the company because they obviously liked me (at the time) as "scabbing". But it did not sit well with the "boys" in the yard, let me tell you!
After about a year of this, the Chief Clerk, Freight Operations called me at the Stores Department and told me that I "had been selected" to attend training at McDonough, Ga and I was to report in two weeks! It felt like I was in the Guard or Reserves the way it was presented. I didn't have
to accept it, but it felt like it would've been a mark against me if I didn't. And the job, tho interesting, neat & fairly secure, led absolutely nowhere because of the isolated "no seniority" situation. The only way out was a promotion--and that wasn't a sure thing. I could be "stuck" forever there. So I agreed to accept LoR training. After all, I still had my Storehouse seniority (because I was cut off on that roster), and if anything ever opened up there, I could bid it. I STILL had credit for vacation and sick leave. But I was PAID $150/week for attending school. Not much...hardly enough to get by. To be asked to PAY for training, that would be absurd. So that is also why I find it hard to accept that there are "railroad U" schools that cost thousands to attend. To me, it's kinda like those Multi-level Marketing Schemes and "home" businesses with a "down line" where you must PAY to work. Its ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!
But that's my story of getting into railroading in a huge way. When I marked up and signed up for vacations, some of the regular clerks who had, indeed, been hired before me ON the clerical roster, said, "Wait a minute...you just got hired, you ain't got no 2 weeks vacation".
"Oh yes I have!!!! You're forgetting: I've been working for the company for 4 years already!!!! I'll get another week NEXT year!!!!!!