Fandango’s Provocative Question #193


As I mentioned in an earlier post WordPress has suddenly started posting daily prompts again. This time around they are posted directly on to our blogs not to the Reader. I think it has been going on about a week. At least I’ve only seen them this week. It may be different in other parts of the world. Fandango decided to use one of them for this week’s FPQ.

What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make? What made the decision so difficult?

One that immediately comes to mind was deciding to leave my full time job in the railways. I had been there for twelve years and it was a good job in many ways. I loved it for most of the time I was there. The pay was good, so were the holidays provided and we got free travel on the suburban system, buses, trams and trains.

My former work place. The Railcar Depot on North Terrace, Adelaide

Things changed when the powers that be decided to start downsizing the workforce and outsourcing a lot of the work to contractors. Our depot used to have about 200 employees, mechanics, electricians, carpenters and cleaners as well as the operational staff. Gradually the numbers dwindled. I remember the first twenty people taking voluntary redundancy around 1990. They thought that they were helping the rest by going but in the end it made no difference.

Adelaide Railcar Depot at dusk,1990s

Cleaning was one of the areas that we were very much afraid that they would outsource altogether. It was a very stressful time. The older cleaners all left first and we found ourselves having to do more work with fewer people. Our department went from the control of one area to another. By this time I was a Leading Hand and I did not enjoy the constant stress of bosses wanting us to work faster and do more. Eventually I became so stressed that I had to take some time off work. I was getting constant headaches and one day after work I found myself unable to find the exit in a city department store that I knew very well, mainly because I was on the second floor at the time. I went on a camping trip with David and his Scout troop one weekend but I felt as if my head was spinning the whole time. On our return I went to the doctor who prescribed some medication and told me to take a week off.

image railcar depot
I worked at the Railcar Depot in the Adelaide Yard for 12 years.

After I went back to work I decided to enquire about taking a redundancy package myself. It was a difficult decision in many ways. I knew I’d be giving up a steady job although to be honest I didn’t think it would last more than another year or so. I was forty and I didn’t know if I would be able to get another full time job. David wasn’t working but our house was paid off. In the end, even though it didn’t make good financial sense, I decided to go because I never wanted to feel the way I felt then again. I managed to get a part time job at a hotel in Adelaide and stayed there for two or three years until we moved to Tasmania. I never regretted deciding to leave.

Some people might say deciding to move to another state where we didn’t have jobs and didn’t know anyone ought to have been a hard decision but it wasn’t. The only hard part was knowing we’d be farther away from Naomi and David’s family but Naomi was also planning to move and as long as we had the cost of an airfare we knew we could go back. So that wasn’t a hard decision at all.

*Note: The railcar depot site was eventually demolished and work was moved out to a northern suburb of Adelaide, the cleaners are indeed all contractors.

Taswegian1957

I was born in England in 1957 and lived there until our family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband, David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. In 2015 David became ill and passed away in October of that year. I currently co-write two blogs on WordPress.com with my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania. In November 2019 I began a new life in the house that Naomi and I intend to make our retirement home at Sisters Beach in Tasmania's northwest. Currently we have five pets between us. Naomi's two dogs Toby and Teddy and cats, Tigerwoods and Panther and my cat Polly. My dog Cindy passed away aged 16 in April 2022.

10 comments

  1. I thought it only happened in South Africa. Because of retrenchments our railways are in a sad state. We mourne the loss of an excellent railway system

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    • No, I think it happens everywhere. Railways are expensive to run. Governments don’t want to spend the money on infrastructure and privatisation leads to out sourcing and job loss.

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  2. Ironically, that is exactly what is going on with OUR railroads and why they had to have congress vote to force the railroads to keep running. But the crews are skeletal and the benefits minimal. Unless they start to hire more people, there won’t be a strike. There just won’t BE any railroads.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Except if the trains stop running, most of the food we eat won’t be available and many people won’t be able to get to work. This affects commuter trains, passenger (long distance) trains, and freight trains. There’s no other way to move freight in a country this big. That has to be true in Australia too. When you crush the trains, you crush their ability to do what they are supposed to do. And times are hard right now. They let so any people go that even if they decide to start rehiring, given the way they treat people, I don’t think they’ll be able to GET anyone. There are more jobs than people to take them and I don’t see how the problem will ever get solved.

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      • Freight seems to be profitable and some will remain although things like wheat which used to be carried by rail now goes by road. It’s passenger services which have really suffered to the point where some states don’t have any outside the cities. Tasmania has no passenger trains at all. Not even commuter trains in Hobart.

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      • The problem isn’t profit so much as skin-flinting by the railroad companies. They treat employees terribly and like yours, once upon a time, they were the best employers in the country. Oh how times change!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I thought it was much better when we were all government employees. We were essentially all on the same team so you could get things done. If I wanted to get a very dirty railcar into the shed for cleaning I could go and see the operational people or the mechanical people and arrange it. I am sure that if the contractors get the same cars repeatedly but never get others that need cleaning they wouldn’t care. They are meant to clean x number of cars a day and as long as they have done that they have fulfilled their contract.

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