For most of my life, I've considered myself a railroader. My grandfather worked for the Santa Fe back during World War II and soon after I was able to walk, he would tell me about his life upon the rails. It was his stories of life on the rails that led me to want to be a railroader as a career.
Growing up, he and my grandmother, whenever there was a chance, would take me to see the static displays of steam engines at Pomona Fairgrounds or summer trips to ride the steam trains at Durango, Colo., or Chama, New Mexico, or "The Skunk " train out of Fort Bragg, Calif.
On one of my trips with the grandparents, we went across the states of Wyoming and Utah. Throughout that trip, Pa would tell me what he knew about the Union Pacific. You see, when he worked for the Santa Fe, some of the engineers that he rode with were on lease from the UP. He told me about Sherman Hill and how the Union Pacific's Big Boys and Challengers raced across the prairies of Wyoming. I would've loved to see those big engines operate during those days that my grandfather worked on steam.
When I was 40 years old and having just been passed over for promotion at the job I was with, I knew I went as far as I could at the place I was working at. It was also at this time that my grandfather succumbed to kidney failure. I went online shortly after his passing to see if any railroads were hiring. I filled out an application for the BNSF and they promptly lost my application.
What happened next, I can't really explain. It might have been divine intervention; I mean all my life, I'd been praying to get into the railroad, or it could've been my grandfather put in a word to the Lord on my behalf, but whatever it was, after filling out an application for the Union Pacific Railroad, I was called three days later for a test. Having passed the test, an interview was offered and after passing the interview and physical, the Union Pacific offered me a job as laborer for the mechanical department at the West Colton Diesel Servicing Facility.
I started work for the Union Pacific on March 1, 2000, and even though I've been on disability for this last year, I miss the job very much and hope to be back soon. It's been quite a pleasure doing a job that I felt I was meant do all my life. And to think, this all happened because a grandfather told his grandson of his life and love for the rails.