Top Ten Things Not to Do Working on the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869

Top Ten Things Not to Do

More of the historical backdrop for this set of Top Ten Things Not to Do. The Top Ten Things Not to Do Working on the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869

10. If you are working on the first transcontinental railroad, do not forget to double-check your measurements. If you do, at best you can correct any mistakes before the East meets West. At worst, the Westbound group will be in Promontory Summit, Utah, and your Eastbound group will end up in Provo.  (You only missed the union by a few hundred miles, Ferris. Maybe you can cut over before the three-foot snows.)

9 If you are working on the first transcontinental railroad, do not borrow Tiny the WWF champ’s sledge-hammer. If you do, at best Tiny will not know you have it. At worst, Tiny has been seeking help for his inability to let things go but has not covered the part dealing with possessions. (If you can, Forest, I would sneak that hammer back into Tiny’s tent since it looks like he is in stage ten of a meltdown looking for it.)

8 If you are working on the first transcontinental railroad, do not forget your gloves. If you do, at best you might be able to buy a pair. At worst, you will be using a shovel to dig out the rail bed for twelve hours a day. (It might be a good idea to get those hands wrapped somehow, Fredrik. Otherwise, I think you may be out of a job.)

7 If you are working on the first transcontinental railroad, do not light up your cigar as you are pouring gunpowder into the blasting holes. If you do, at best the wind will save you. At worst, you will get a lesson in flight long before the Wright brothers. (That ringing in your ears means you are lucky to be here, Fakhir.)

6 If you are working on the first transcontinental railroad, do not complain about the food. If you do, at best no one will listen. At worst, the cook, who is a graduate of the Culinary Institute, has a huge knife and very tender feelings. (I think it might be time to try out those new running shoes, Flint. I don’t think an apology is going to work this time.)

5 If you are working on the first transcontinental railroad, do not decide to sleep out on the prairie even though the stars are beautiful at night. If you do, at best the mosquitoes will drive you back to camp. At worst, your slumber will be disturbed by growling noises you never heard before. (Those are wolves, Finnigan. Playing possum is to going to help. I would get up and run screaming back to camp.)

4 If you are working on the first transcontinental railroad, I would not try to introduce smores at the nightly campfire. If you do, at best your fellow workers won’t pay attention. At worst, you won’t have enough to go around, and the resulting riot will get you fired. (Now that you are way out here, Findlay, how you going to get back to San Francisco?)

3 If you are working on the first transcontinental railroad, do not start singing, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” If you do at best, you won’t remember the words and will stop. At worst, you’ll get to the part about Dina blowing her horn, and the rest of the workers will want to know who Dina is. (Looks like you have a credibility problem, Flynn. Everyone wants to meet Dina. You better figure out who is going to play Dina.)

2 If you are working on the first transcontinental railroad, do not think you can organize a union of workers. If you do, at best your boss will stop you before you get too far. At worst, the railroad company and the government will escort you off the job and on to a buckboard heading back to civilization. (I guess no one told you, Fabian, that this was going to be dangerous, unsafe, hard work, and you would only get minimum wage.)

1 If you are working on the first transcontinental railroad, do not party too hard after the last spike is driven. If you do, at best you will have a killer headache the next day. At worst, you might miss the train back to your city. (Well, Fachnan, it looks like you might be asking the local tribe of native Americans if they have room for a blood brother. Don’t be too surprised if they are less than friendly. You just finished a railroad through their land without their permission.)

52 comments

  1. With #9, I would imagine they hired Tiny for his ability to pound a spike. Steal his hammer and you’re liable to be a stand-in for the spike. With #10, I doubt the exclamation “Whoops!” will be a satisfying response. A good list, John. 😀 — Suzanne

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    1. Ha haha. Thank you, Suzanne.

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  2. Too funny, John! Number seven cracked me up. Happy Monday!

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    1. Thanks, Jill. A very happy Monday to you.

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  3. Gwen Plano · ·

    Hilarious, John. I’m stuck on Dina, and now I will have to search the net to figure out who she was. Never thought about it before reading your list. LOL. Maybe you need to add footnotes for readers like me. 😀

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    1. I have no idea who Dina is or the someone with her in the kitchen. If you find out let me know. 😀

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  4. Now I’ll have “I’ve been working on the railroad” running through my brain all day 😉 Great list, John!

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    1. I’ve had it for two days so I feel your pain. 😀

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  5. Another very funny one! Love the smores idea, made me giggle.

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    1. I’m glad, Darlene. 😀

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  6. All I can think about with #5 are rattlesnakes and scorpions.

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    1. Yeeek. Not two of my favorites. 😀

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  7. John,

    Nothing good EVER comes of taking Tiny’s sledgehammer. And as far as the cigar, that’s what breaks are for. Okay, so they didn’t get breaks . . . so that’s what quitting time was for.

    Thanks for taking us on this ride.

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    1. Thanks for coming along, Marc. 😀

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  8. “…That ringing in your ears means you are lucky to be here.” Ouch! As soon as I saw the title, I started singing “I’ve been working on the railroad” – I guess that wouldn’t bode well for me. Great list, John.

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    1. Ha ha ha. The word railroad is copyrighted to you. 😀

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  9. Now I’m going to have that song in my head all the live-long day — and I don’t even know who Dina is, or who’s in the kitchen with her. Great list, John.

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    1. Or what the heck they are doing in there. Thanks, Linda.

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  10. At worst, the cook, who is a graduate of the Culinary Institute, has a huge knife and very tender feelings.

    The Culinary Institute is that where they teach you to serve steak that burned in the middle and frozen on the outside?

    How do they do that anyway?

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    1. Not sure I have ever has one of those. Thanks, Greg.

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  11. Hilarious, John. Dina, s’mores and Tiny’s sledge hammer topped my laugh-o-meter. Keep ‘em coming!

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    1. Thank you, Jennie. 😀

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      1. You’re welcome, John. 😀

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  12. What’s a campfire without smores?

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    1. I know right? Major food group while camping. Thanks, Teri.

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  13. Picked up a new harmonica. Who’s up for another round of Oh Susanna? Ducks behind a sagebrush.

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    1. Ha ha ha. Best to duck behind a rock. Stops picks and shovels better.

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  14. D.L Finn, Author · ·

    I often wondered who Dina was, too:) Another Monday smile!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Denise.

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  15. Good morning, John,
    As to #10: that can happen nowadays to a German trying to deal with inches, feet and yards instead of millimeters, centimeters, and kilometers. In fact, it did happen more than once with this here German. Whoever, e.g., did get the crazy idea to measure the thickness of plywood in units like 19/32??!! And imagine my utter confusion, when I was building a pedestal for an A/C unit, had measured everthing to a tenth of an inch or even less, and sawn the pieces, but … they would not fit. It was only then that I discovered that a 4×4 was NOT 4×4, but 3 1/2 x 3 1/2!
    With measurements like these I keep wondering how the US became the leading industrial nation of the world! 😀
    Have a wonderful day,
    Pit

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    1. Were are big on estimates here. A two by four is not 4X2 either.

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  16. Great list, John. Now I’m hungry for s’mores! (But I know enough NOT to steal Tiny’s sledgehammer!!)

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    1. Sadly the gramcrackers are right there with the sledgehammer. Be careful.

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  17. Great post, John. The first one reminded me of the unfinished highway we have in Cape Town. They made a mistake with the calculations and the curve on the flyover was to sharp. They had to block off that section and restart. It still stands there today.

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    1. I can believe it happens all over. Thanks, Robbie.

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  18. I know, and neither is a 2×2 what is says it is!

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    1. or 1X2 or any wood.

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  19. Too funny, John. Can’t pick a favorite! I always know where to go for smiles!

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    1. Very nice to know, Lauren. Especially when challenges are with us.

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  20. I’m not sure which one is more dangerous, John. Tiny with a sledgehammer, or the wolves? Oh, wait! There’s the cook with the long pointy knife and blistering hands when those cheap gloves tear. I think I’ll take the job of selling the sandwiches on the trains once they start running.

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    1. We do need a beer salesperson on the train. The sandwich job is taken.

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      1. If I can sample the beer while doing the job (just to make sure it tastes good) then I’ll take that job, John. 🍺

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      2. You actually get an allotment of a pint every three hours.

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  21. What a wonderful set, dear John, and timeless! 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Maria.

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    1. Thak you, Traci.

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  22. Clever, John. I do know all the words to I’ve Been Working on the Railroad! Where ever do you get these ideas for ten things not to do…?

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    1. These ideas come to me while writing. Thanks, Noelle.

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