For Christmas, a biblical story

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Newell Derryberry started railroading in West Texas before I was born, in 1943, began dispatching trains for the Texas & Pacific at age 18, and by age 27, he became chief dispatcher in Big Spring, Texas. He ultimately rose to be one of the top operating executives of parent railroad Missouri Pacific. I got to know Newell when I wrote about Union Pacific’s T&P route for the August 2002 TRAINS, and every so often he emails to make sure I’m still alive. So far, so good, I always reply.

I’m going to share his last missive, which is a true story. Well, maybe not literally true. But it captures the tensions between locomotive engineers and the people who direct them quite imaginatively:
Two locomotive engineers die and go to heaven. [Wait! Wait! You ask how locomotive engineers can go to heaven, but let’s skip over that issue and get on with the story.] Unfortunately they find themselves in a long line before the pearly gates. Not only is the line long, it moves very slowly. It’s enough to try the patience of Job.

As they remark how slowly the line is moving, they notice an old man with a visor hat and sleeve garters go walking right past them. The man has a trainsheet under one arm and an ink pen in hand. He walks past the entire line and right into heaven. This disturbs the engineers to no end. How dare a train dispatcher cut the line? As the two wait their turn, this is all they can talk about.

When they finally reach St. Peter, they want to know why he let the train dispatcher cut the line. St. Peter tells them that he did no such thing. Both of them swear that he did. As the argument goes back and forth, one of the engineers sees him, the little man with a visor hat, trainsheet under one arm and pen in hand. St. Peter says, "Oh, Him. That’s no train dispatcher. That’s God. He just thinks He's a train dispatcher."

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