I was at my parents’ house, talking about fundraising ideas for Tiggy’s House, encouraged by the generosity of strangers, thinking about the six month anniversary that was passing but feeling almost at peace when my husband called.
“Do you have a pen? I need you to do some research. BNSF is going to be shutting down lines due to flooding. I think I’ll be OK unless they shut down the Creston line, but rumours are flying and the railroad is offering mercenary work. I need to have my bid sheet in by Wednesday to get the bonuses and guys with higher seniority are already putting in theirs.”
And I’m left standing with a list of cities and the task to somehow divine just how high the Missouri will rise.
The list of cities is all the places he can bid into for a bonus, a place to stay and the guarantee of work until the river recedes. A place for him to go for the next two to six months. A way to pay the bills while we stay here.
For a fleeting moment, I almost wish we didn’t have the animals, the orchard, the garden. For a moment, I think what it would be like to just toss the bags in the car and follow where the railroad leads. To make a hotel in Amarillo or Denver or Centralia, IL our base while we explore the country and make for ourselves an adventure out of the inconvenience of life on the rails.
But we do have the animals, the orchard, the garden. And the river is rising. All six dams are releasing record amounts of water. The snow melt off is 140% of normal. Levees are being breached and volunteers are spending the day sandbagging while communities are being evacuated. And it just keeps raining.
My husband is worried about the Creston line. If it goes down, he will likely be forced to find work outside Lincoln, but if his bid sheet isn’t turned in by noon, he will do so on his own, without the bonus and without the hotel. My assigned research indicates projected flooding worse than ’93 that could last until November. The Creston line will probably close.
My husband will probably be left searching for a job. But the bonuses being offered aren’t that good, and John doesn’t want to leave his family for two to six months. We decide to forego the bonuses and hold on to the chance of staying on in Lincoln. Even without the Creston line, if enough guys volunteer to move, he may be able to hold on to a position here.
And for someone who likes to know what is going to happen and have all contingencies planned out, I feel a strange thing:
He may get to stay on in Lincoln. He may be offered guarantee to remain available while staying home. He may get furloughed and be home for a couple months without pay. He may bump into Kansas City and live with my parents until the lines are reopened. He may be forced to stray further and it may last longer than anyone is currently projecting.
But whatever happens, right now I am at peace and I don’t even know why.