You ever have nightmares? I generally don't, but I just had a doozy. Must be something I ate. It was all about IRM, and it kept getting worse and worse. It's 3 AM, and I just gotta tell somebody. As with most dreams, a lot of it was pretty implausible, and the details are sort of fuzzy, but as best I can remember, it went like this:
- We didn't own our mainline; instead, we had to lease it from some government agency, part of the county or something. The people in charge hated our railroad and wanted to replace it with a bike trail/snowmobile path. So they kept raising the rates, making new unreasonable demands, and finally decided to lock us out and keep us from running anything on the mainline. That pretty much stopped us from operating anything except streetcars. Bummer! The bureaucrats were going to start tearing up the track, when it turned out that:
- We didn't even own the land our main campus sits on. Overnight, the town of Union had turned into a large city, and we were occupying land belonging to the Union Park District. Again, the politicians we had to deal with were trying to get us to leave. They kept complaining about eyesores of one sort or another, and threatening that they could evict us if they really worked at it. Now we do a remarkably good job of keeping up the property and making improvements, but anyone who wants to find something to complain about can always do so. Relocating is beyond the realm of possibility, even in a dream. What could we do?
- It then appeared that key parts of our collection, such as the Zephyr, the 1630, and the Electroliner didn't belong to the Museum, they belonged to private owners. The Board had to negotiate with these owners to provide fuel and water for the locomotives, determine who was going to run the trains, how they would be staffed, whether and when volunteers would be allowed to work on them, and so on. It was a constant headache.
- Boot Creek was no longer a small creek, it was a large river that flooded on a periodic basis with disastrous results. Now we've had some problems with flooding in the past, but these have been limited and are being alleviated by new storm sewers, retention ponds, and so forth. But in this awful nightmare there was no way to stop the flooding. Effective controls were impossible due to the cost and environmental regulations. You want waist-high water in all the barns? It happens every few years, and then a lot of our restored equipment is ruined. It's very discouraging, to put it mildly. Solving all these problems would be hard enough, but....
- IRM was really one organization in name only. It was the merger of two previous groups, one oriented towards electric lines, the other towards steam and Diesel. The two groups hated each other and would hardly even try to communicate. One half wanted to leave our current location to escape all the problems, the other was dead set against it. Then there were some smaller splinter groups. The next annual meeting promises to be a horrific affair....
Luckily, at that point I woke up. Thank goodness it was a dream!