Yes sir, Litz. The fans and dreamers probably can't comprehend the horror of seeing a small car in your headlight and see clearly a CAR SEAT in the back, kids in the FRONT, and this car is RACING us to beat us to the crossing. OH NO! NO!NO!
!!!!!!!!!! You scream it in your mind, I don't care how many times I saw it aboard the Southern Crescent, my knuckles tightened on the seat or bulkhead with the whistle going TANT-TANT-TANT-TANT-TANT-TAAAAAAAAAAANT
!!!!!!! Does that sound familiar?
An engineer friend of mine hit a car, and I was working the Porter/Truck Driver's job one night. They called me to come get the crew because all of them were pretty shaken and to take a new crew to the scene. Two small kids, one a baby, were killed, their Mom just barely alive, and the crew was just so upset. I arrived to find my friend standing beside the ladder (E8) facing the engine, arms across his face. When he turned, he was crying, big tears in his eyes. Big burly railroad man, but he was overcome with emotion. All of us were trying to console him. He had hit a number of cars over the years (not his fault, of course), but this one got to him. He told me later it was because of his own small children that this one just finally really got him.
I think we all shed a tear or two that night in the shadow of that mangled car, under the headlight.
It is really a horrifying experience that only railroad people know. Some can take it and never be bothered by it, others are deeply shaken by the experience, to still more it builds up and up----until it spills over into visible emotion with a "trigger" such as hitting precious children. Railroad sounds? It is the sound of that staccato horn signal that makes ME snap my head up still. "Collision Imminent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"