Our first shoot was on the Navajo Nation in Thoreau, NM, currently the site for a new Rail Line to be installed about 30 miles East of Gallup, NM. We arrived to film a railroad family of three brothers who worked for BNSF. Their father worked for Santa Fe, the oldest brother recently retired, and the two younger ones worked together on the regional steel gang as oppose to a system gang that webs steel across the nation. We filmed two brothers getting ready to leave for the M-F workweek.
Come Friday no matter where the jobsite — if its located as far as Kansas or Louisiana, the brothers drive home to sometimes stay less than 30 hours. Then they leave Sunday morning only to report on Monday at the next jobsite. The intense travel schedule is not insurmountable but different than how they first started on the railroad. “We lived in box cars that were pulled along as we worked the tracks. We used to get up at 4:30 in the morning, get ready, hear a bell and everyone would go run over. Eat, work, Eat, back to work, Eat, then sleep. Everyday was like that.”
The Jones family shared stories about their work, travels, hitting animals, mileage, and missing out on the life they are providing. It was eye opening to hear about the emotional, physical, and spiritual sacrifices working for the railroad. One brother explained that he missed his son’s basketball games and realized that his son grew into a man while he was away at work. “It’s hard not seeing your family grow up. It hurts but you can’t let it hurt because you know you are making their lives better.”
The brothers counted hitting 6 deer/elk between them showing us pictures of a brand new car that needed a windshield replacement. Six deer!
This was our first family to visit and they fed us beef stew and dry bread.
NOTE to self: do no discount the wind in the high desert. Even with a wind sock to protect the microphone, the audio levels were wrecked with noise. There went our sweet interviews with the wives standing against the backdrop of beautiful landscape.