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After graduating from St. John’s University in 1969, Girard O’Malley was hired as a computer planner for the New York Telephone Company. Eighteen years later, he changed careers and joined the Metro-North Railroad in New York as a train mechanic. He often spoke of the many colorful characters there.
The hazardous and hidden world of railroad repair shops is populated by a unique breed of individuals.
This story takes place in a railroad repair shop in Onionville, a backwater town in upstate New York. The majority of the shop personnel were born in Onionville and knew they were destined to work in the Onionville Shop, just as their fathers and grandfathers had done before them.
Murphy’s Law states: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” This is certainly true in the Onionville Shop—on a daily basis. The zany, bungling train mechanics make the Keystone Cops look like well-trained militia. The shop resembles a halfway house with workers trudging about, dressed in tattered clothing and sporting brain-dead looks due to limited contact with the outside world and the inhalation of copious diesel fumes.
Picture a shop with incompetent supervisors, untrained and unwilling workers, broken or unreliable test equipment all working together to create chaos and mayhem. Add to the mix a Cajun shop superintendent whose butchery of the English language creates confusion and misdirection, and you’ve got the formula for Armageddon.
The biggest losers? The innocent Onionville commuters, tortured by the horrific train maintenance performed at the shop.