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» Cutting Labor Costs
The railways are always looking for ways to cut labor costs. Years ago there used to be five crew members on a train. Then they went to four, then three, and now many freight train crews are made up of two people, the engineman and the brakeman.
They finally figured out a way to eliminate one more crewman, and many were surprised to find out that they were eliminating the engineman. They replaced him with a baboon who had been sent to school for just one day. Most engineers study for years before they can qualify for the job.
On the first trip the brakeman was a bit leery, but thought he'd give it a try. They outfitted the cab of the engine with two color monitors, one in front of the baboon, and one in front of the brakeman.
While in the yard, the brakeman heard the carman on the radio call for the brakes to be setup for the brake test. The screen in front of the baboon flashed the message "SETUP BRAKES" and the baboon did.
Next, the carman called for the release of the brakes. The monitor in front of the baboon flashed "RELEASE BRAKES" and the baboon did.
Finally, the carman called and gave the "OK on the brakes, you may proceed." The dispatcher then gave the train the clear signal. The monitor in front of the baboon flashed "CLEAR TO PROCEED" and the train departed.
For the next four hours the screen would flash various messages and the baboon would do exactly what the screen instructed.
As the train pulled into the destination yard, the baboon's screen flashed the instruction "APPLY BRAKES, YARD TRAIN" and the train came to a stop right in front of the yard office.
The brakeman became worried. Here was the baboon driving the train and getting all the instruction. He started to wonder why the railway had kept him in his position.
Then, the screen in front of the brakeman beeped, began to make a horrible sound and started flashing: "FEED THE BABOON! FEED THE BABOON!"
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