Thomas the Train was a darling little blue train with a happy face and a story narrated by George Carlin. Engine 33 isn’t cut from the same loaf. It’s not even the same kind of bread. Thomas was the kind of “Yes I can, yes I can train. Engine 33 is more likely to say F@ck it, I’m done!” and walk off the job train. (Well roll off the job.)
Thomas belongs to the Screen Actors Guild and was paid well. He even got red M&M breaks between scenes. It was scrubbed and polished everyday and had a stunt double to pull heavy loads.
Life for Engine 33 is different. It’s a contract employee in the real world, paid like crap, no benefits, no security, no time off. But it’s better than rusting.
But things are changing. It’s a key link in the supply chain and knows it. So do other contract engines. Every third week they meet in the roundhouse and discuss their options. With luck and some good organizing, things will get better for them.