Monday, April 25, 2011

Coloring With My Black Crayon

I have these wonderful photographs of the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad that runs in the high mountains from New Mexico into Colorado. I took them one fall while on a solo vacation without my wife and family. I'd maxed out the number of vacation days I could keep and it was a case of use them or lose them.

The photos were of a double header steam train (two engines) running through the mountains gold with fall Aspens and red with other trees. I had climbed to high places and took great pictures of those dark black engines in the gold and red landscape with a strong blue sky and perfect cumulus clouds. Smoke and steam add to the dozens of great scenes I was able to photograph. After two days of photographing the train all along its line, I made it down to Albuquerque and called back to the office, as I was required to do even when on personal leave.

My boss came on the line and made me promise not to hang up on him until he was completely through talking to me. Now you know that was going to be bad. The Board had promoted someone to a high management level. It was a woman who basically was an enemy of mine, Worse she would be my boss. And even worse than that I could no longer report directly to him as I had been doing for five years. He kept talking to me. Assuring me that he would fix this as soon as he could. He needed me back there with him. He would take care of me, and so on and so forth. He kept me on the telephone a half hour, maybe more. He would not let me go until I gave him my word that I would not quit and would return to the State and come back to work. My children were young. My wife wasn't working at the time. And by manys' standards I was over-employed and over-paid where I was. I was stuck.

I gave him my word. After my time off I went back to work. It was much worse than I imagined. It could haven even been called nasty. I lost my staff, my budgets, my grants, my projects (except for the ones no one cared to have). People were, indirectly, even killed because of her insensitivity. I spent three years working for a very unpleasant person before my old boss got back into the good graces of his own board and pulled me back under his wing. I rebuilt and went forward.

I had those photos developed. They were very very nice. Maybe even the best I had ever taken. But every time I looked at them they reminded me of where I was at the time and what came after that. They are upstairs in a box somewhere buried in the thousand of photographs that I have taken. Until tonight I haven't thought about them in years. Still, I think I'll just leave them there. Maybe, after she's dead, .....