As groggy passengers file into the 7 a.m. Amtrak Metroliner to New York, chances are they will see Grace Easter draping her last doily of the day on a headrest or cleaning a final window. Since 1958, Easter has helped Amtrak mean what it says with the phrase "We've been working on the railroad' -- midnights to 7 a.m.
"I love to work", says Easter, 59, her stocky frame leaning against a railroad car seat. "And I like to do my job right."
After 22 years, Easter takes night work for granted, explaining that it's something she has always done and will continue to do until her retirement in September. In the meantime, her schedule accommodates her two major daytime activities -- shopping and Jehovah's Witness "field work."
"When I'm up in the daytime, I also study," explains Easter, a widow, eyes turned heavenward. "I like to quote the scriptures to people when I speak to them."
Easter started working nights when Antrak cut back personnel. "They told us if we wanted to work days, we would have to do heavy work," she said.
But a short time later, she began to appreciate the advantages of working nights. "It's quieter and much cooler during the summer months," she explains. "Most of my friends work nights."
Now the "general housework" she performs for Amtrak has become increasingly difficult for her, and she now sacrifice some daytime activities for needed rest. She explains that she is looking forward to her retirement in September, adding that her life style will change little by giving up night work.
"I have only my religious work really," she grins. "I enjoy it to the highest."