Hump Conductor Phillip Saylor enjoys his job, but he never loses his appreciation for what’s on the line: his teammates’ safety.
Having worked in the field, he knows firsthand the importance of skilled, focused people in the Command Center and that motivates him every day. All but two of his 29 years on the job were as a switchman.
“It gives me perspective about what the people in the field are going through,” Saylor said. “Safety is what’s most important. The first thing to get right is protecting our people.”
Saylor helps hump cars into the classification yard by blocking out track so switchmen can pull cars. Mental lapses are not acceptable when you’re the one who employees are relying on to open and close tracks properly.
“When you’re dealing with such heavy equipment, you can’t afford mistakes,” he said.
That means Saylor takes the job home with him. He has to prepare by getting proper rest.
“You have to be on point,” he said.
Maintaining situational awareness allows him to monitor conditions, such as the wind speed, which can move bulkhead flat cars into potentially hazardous positions.
“You’ve got to keep on your toes,” Saylor said.
Away from work, Saylor has coached baseball for two decades. His instruction now is one-on-one with Cash, his 12-year-old grandson, who is a pitcher on a travel team.
“The bonding and watching him grow is great,” he said.
Safety is what’s most important. The first thing to get right is protecting our people.Hump Conductor Phillip Saylor