And we're...Moving on!

On June 1, at 3:30 pm, I left the Morristown & Erie.(Right now, some of you are saying, “come on, Friedland, you have done that more than 4000 times before, what’s special about that?”)On June 1, at 3:30 pm, I left the Morristown & Erie after almost 21 ½ years full time, and a total time of over 33 years on the property, for the last time as an employee.Ok, now that I have your attention, let me explain.Eight months after my 30 th birthday, my father died. Following that, the Morristown & Erie became my focus. I needed the M&E to keep me going, and at times, the M&E needed me too. I wasn’t the owner or the principal of the business, but my role, as it was before my father passed, was to run the freight office, with customer service, billing, and event reporting being my responsibility. For the next year, I worked constantly. No vacation, no extra days off other than the weekends, nothing. I was so focused on my work, that it was only at the end of that year did I realize what I had done.The next year, two things happened that changed my life. The first was the creation of Short Line Data Systems, which gave me a focus for my energies, and forced me to get away from the railroad. The other thing, which was far more significant, was the birth of my first child, Andrew. Being a father was one of the greatest things I had ever experienced, and gave me a huge amount of closure from my father’s death.Over the next sixteen years, I was able to balance the needs of SDS, my duties at the railroad, and being a father. Six years after Andrew’s birth Rob graced us with his presence, and with a small reshuffling of my time, life went on. From year to year, the boys grew, SDS grew, and my role at the M&E remained the same. The job at the M&E was not any less important to the company, but as the years went on, I can say now that it was not as important to me. A couple of years ago I started to keep my eyes and ears open for other opportunities, but it wasn’t a high priority, and everything remained status quo.You may have heard the term “precipitating event” and wondered where it comes from. It is actually from chemistry, and it refers to what happens when a single crystal of a chemical is introduced to a super saturated solution of that chemical, and the crystal causes all of the chemical to precipitate out of the solution all at once. A couple of weeks ago, there was a precipitating event in my world at the railroad. In retrospect it really wasn’t major, and in previous years it might not have led to what ended up happening, but after a lot of introspection and discussion with some very valued peers, I had made the decision that I needed to make: it was time for a change in my life, and the start of the change was to leave the railroad.So what am I doing? Right now, my focus is on the two major parts of my life: my family, and SDS. I have been putting off some work for my customers lately, and now I am going to focus on them. I also now have the opportunity to spend the summer being a daddy, and I already got my start this week chaperoning a field trip for Rob’s fourth grade class. And, I have to keep writing this piece…In the long term? I’m looking for something else. The M&E was a great place to learn my craft, and with the generosity of the people at the railroad I was able to learn and be involved with all of the functions of the company. The next opportunity will be there, and if it is the right one I would definitely be interested.So for now, I have moved on. Looking forward, and with no regrets (Holly is picking on me though, since I am only working at one job at the moment). ---By Steve Friedland
steven-fb.jpg Steve Friedland is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. At the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, he worked in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He currently serves as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR's Wireless Communications Committee and is chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He also is a member of the ASLRRA's board of directors.