Railroad workers--"rails"--have always spent a good deal of time waiting. In 2000, three of them and a union president decorated a bench in Glendive, Montana, a railroad town on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe. An ironic "15 minute parking" sign is posted between them, and was probably deliberately featured in the photograph because the men will have to wait more than 15 minutes for their train. They had a collective 104 years of experience on the railroad. Living in rail towns encouraged longevity in service and camaraderie, but changes in technology have reduced the number of such communities. Glendive is a rare survivor. A FRED (flashing rear-end device) appears on the bench. FREDs replaced cabooses on most freight trains and negatively affected employment numbers. Humor, maintenance of personal distance, and bright sun on a chilly day make this a warm-hearted image about work, small towns, and railroading.
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