The Parable of “The Happy American Train Conductor”


Last Friday started with the following tweet:

@RiczWest: And today we have an American train conductor. Wow, what a positive difference to the announcements. Know I’m going to have a GREAT DAY! :-)

The reason why I tweeted this is that in Britain, you’re lucky if the conductors, which we have on Javelins, sound at all happy. I’m talking about 10-20%. The rest seem like they’d rather be somewhere else and don’t sound much more animated than the automated announcements that the trains have.

Before we get in to my FANTASTIC FRIDAY though, a bit of background. I had been assigned to a “compressed project”. It was budgeted by the Sales Guy – let’s call him Old School Political Bully Boy for short. Technically, it was so easy, but thanks to him and another member of “the old guard” it was getting very political and negative very fast. I managed to keep myself clear of this, but I didn’t like the effect it was having on my Project Manager (who was quite good and resigned 3 weeks after starting with the company – still has one month to go though, so luckily I get to finish the project with him) and the rest of my team. On the close of Thursday, we’d had a meeting with OSPBB who had made it clear that he had targeted his Blame Bazooka at the PM…


So on Friday, that was where I was coming from. But this train guard was just so damn novel and cheery on the way in, I couldn’t help but start feeling better. Then, as we approached Stratford where I was getting off at the end he said “… and for all those people who are going in to work, TGIF!” I got off that train feeling ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC, grinning like a bit of an idiot, but I didn’t care – I was FEELING GOOD!

On the way to work, stopping off at my usual coffee place I happened to mention the great conductor (but not his nationality) and the Barista asked “Was he American?”. Wow! It turns out that everybody (except me until that day ;) seemed to know about “The Happy American Train Conductor”. This guy was a legend, literally! On the rest of the way in I remember thinking “what if we could all be like The Happy American Train Conductor?”, how good would work be then?

At work, I was still feeling good and did a run-through of my Solution with offshore to make sure nothing was missed. In the mean time, my BA and PM were meeting with “the client” and everyone was thinking it wouldn’t end well. But it did go well! Very well in fact, with the client turning to the BA and saying directly to her “I really appreciate the work you’ve put in to this, you’ve done a great job”. This was GREAT NEWS! No crazy changes in spec, so the Solution and current Estimates would be aligned – everybody happy :-)

My day just continued to get better with every little step, to the degree that I even went out with “the youngn’s” to a trendy cocktail bar and had a few before heading home. HOW GOOD WAS THAT?

PS We had fantastic “beginning of spring” weather this weekend too

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