Education Versus Credentialism

by Jim on 2021/01/30

Just as I did 15 days ago, when I foamed the BR Job and witnessed a grade-crossing collision, I executed a plan today, Saturday 30 January 2021, that I had had in mind for a while: I made a return to Schriever.

It’s Not The Same

As I was staring at the eastern sky this morning between 07:50 and 07:55, cloudy as it was, trying to decide if I should make my trip to Schriever today, I had an epiphany. What tipped me in favor of making the trip, despite the prospect of only a few decent pictures for all of that driving, is remembering that I was going there for the experience more than for the pictures. I just wanted to be there, to meditate, to write in my journal, to soak up the homeness, the Schrieverness, of it all, to think, to reflect.

That got me to thinking about how having good pictures to show from an experience is a form of credentialism, like being able to show your diploma to someone more than actually using your education.

And, so, it got me wondering about my own motivations to get good pictures and share them with the world.

And, so, it got me wondering about the motives of anyone else to get good pictures and share them with the world.

I Am An Intruder In My Own Homeland

I want my homeland – I want its people, my people – to be a certain way.

But I accept that it will never be way. I say that, as I drive eastward from the homestead on the way to Schriever, near my home, as a way of letting go, especially after the bomb that KSJ dropped on me yesterday.

I think that my fear of having to, and anxiety imagining having to, create a social network elsewhere is related to my inability to shed the anxiety that I still have, though somewhat less so, with people from back home.

It will never go away.

At Baldwin at 09:02, there was an eastbound BNSF Railway manifest train in the siding; it included a large block of green and greenish rib-sided hopper cars near the head end. I would like to have got the picture of that.

When I arrived at Schriever, the first time I am at this place or anywhere east of New Iberia since October 22, and tried to read The Duke’s emotional letter, there was unnerving pounding coming from some automobile somewhere, and I yelled “stop” multiple times. 

So, here I am, at the sacred place.

It looks the same, mostly.

I love the centerbeam flatcars being unloaded on what remains of the old Houma Branch.

I wanted to get here in time to see and photograph the westbound Amtrak Sunset Limited, and I did. At 10:53, I saw a headlight.

Notice the cars parked in the siding; these would be pickups that the BNSF Railway should make from the Louisiana & Delta Railroad’s Schriever Job, and there apparently were too many cars to put in the storage track.

This scene reminds me very much of my Election Day 2018 post, one of my favorite of my recent sets from here and some of my last pictures from here before my eviction from my homeland.

I like this! Even though I want to spend some time in meditation here, that right there makes it almost worth the trip.

Really, though, as I said earlier, I’m really not here for the pictures, and, in the end, I got much more out of this trip than any pictures.

There were no passengers boarding and no passengers alighting.

Okay, what is this? This straightrail through this frog seems new, I’ve noticed the lack of loud clanging sounds when trains pass here, and I don’t understand how a train going onto the branch is supposed to get across that rail.

Okay, well, thanks to Google, and thanks to reading that sign, I think that I have my answer.

Wow, I really have been out of the loop!

Next are two cell-phone images, as I went walk southward on the Old Schriever Highway toward the intersection and back.

Secret keeping is a killer. This has been a hellacious 24 hours for me.

I feel uneasy being around here, like I don’t belong here, and like that’s somehow okay, even if also being sad.

The next four images are tablet-computer images.

Reviving an old tradition, I went and sat on the metal steps on the eastern side of the depot and wrote in my journal.

This is the view southward from that spot, seeing HE 26062 loaded with American Gypsum product.

That new house track is one of the biggest changes here. The old one was well sunk into the dirt that I could drive my truck over it to this spot, and no longer being able to do that was really bothersome, because this is the shady side of the depot in the afternoons.

There are the steps and my journal.

Actually, typing this essay is rather difficult.

Next is a cell-phone snap of the loaded HE 26062.

That has plenty of meaning for me, and, yes, I am breaking one of my own rules by publishing that picture. I don’t care anymore. Like I said, and like we will see later in this piece, this isn’t really my territory anymore; furthermore, basically nobody reads this website anymore anyway!

The next images is a tablet-computer image, showing the tracks from the depot.

Next is a cell-phone snap showing the tablet computer and the book that I finished reading today in Schriever.

All of the rest of the images in this essay today are from the DSLR camera.

At 15:56, while I was reading the notes to Chapter 7 of The Deficit Myth, I spied a headlight! 

A westbound train is approaching.

It’s a BNSF Railway manifest train, and it has stopped, the locomotives breaking off from the train, apparently to grab the cars on the siding and maybe more cars, too.

Here, while I wait for this slow process, is another view of the centerbeam flatcars.

The new version of Adobe Photoshop that I have has these great tools that really can rescue some details out of cloudy-day shots and backlit shots taken in RAW mode, and I love it.

Perhaps the old version, CS3, that I had had these same features, but, if it did, I never figured it out.

This is a great thing for me to discover, as my photography skills have really become stagnant.

The train is switching, still, and I like that neat HE centerbeam flatcar.

Right at around this time, a visitor showed up.

The train left, and Engineer Sean was in command of the train and talked to me for a while before the visitor showed up.

The visitor was someone who had followed this site for years and whose own work I have admired.

The whole experience was strange for me for a lot of reasons, none of which were the fault – to the degree that “strange” is even a bad thing – of the visitor.

We talked for a while. I was tired, as I had been up since quite early in the morning. Not having a radio scanner anymore, I had to rely on the visitor to inform me that the train that I had most hoped to see when I was here, the Union Pacific New Iberia Turn, was coming after doing some work in Raceland.

At 17:45, with really no light left, here is the train.

I guess that this is a good way to end the day.

I talked, somewhat unwillingly, to the visitor for a while even after the train passed and it was fully dark.

I really got the sense that I had been replaced.

This isn’t his territory, but this is not really my territory anymore. Here is a guy much younger than I am, from hundreds of miles away, and he’s got this territory almost as well as I do, with my old information.

This is not at all about him, though. This is about me, about how I have fallen, how I myself am now a visitor – an intruder – in my own home, how I am just a shadow of my former self.

I detoured through New Iberia to grab a Caniac combo at the Raising Cane’s and then went to the house to eat the fries on my own and then chop up the chicken to mix it with lettuce and put it in a make a salad out of it with the cane sauce and some tomato. It was good. I had never done that before. I’m so tired.

He talked about wanting to follow the Constitution, but he also talked about how he thinks people are making money off their perception of the pandemic happening. So, this doesn’t seem like my kind of guy.

One year ago tonight was my last night in New Orleans.

I don’t just feel replaced. I honestly feel like I am dead, like I am just done.

I am sorry to not end on a less somber note.



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