As established, on the Suffolk Northern, it's always 1952.
In fact, year in and year out, the railway's message on the back of the New Year's card never changes. Makes it kind of a running joke:
When most layout owners print dates on documents for their railroads, they will use today's date plus the year the layout is set in. Problem is, that doesn't tell you what year (in reality) that document was created. I like to see the history of things, so I wanted to find a way to track when something, or some version of something, was actually created.
My friend Paul Miklos (B&O Chillicothe Sub) rolls the date sequentially, starting at January 1, 1958. This is ingenious, and you can always tell where in the ops history any given order, timetable, supporting doc, etc. was created - at least, in the sequence of ops. Incidentally, he operates typically once per month, with three op sessions (tricks) per calendar day. I think we've made it as far as January 9th or 10th now, and Paul's pretty confident that his winter scenery is not going to need to survive past March. 😀
- The year is always 1952, given.
- The month is always the actual month, so far so good. But:
- For the day, I use the two-digit actual year.
Example: I'm writing this on March 1, 2021. So on the SNR, anything created today is dated 3-21-52. Anything created tomorrow will be 3-21-52. I'm hosting ops this Saturday, March 6, which will be 3-21-52. Yesterday, it was 2-21-52. Make sense?
It's not specific down to the day, but that's not critical - I'm not that exacting, and anyway, I typically operate once per month, so it's the month and year that are the most important. I have to say it's pretty cool to look at the oldest timetable on record, for example, dated 10-5-52. That's not 7 months from now - it was nearly 16 years ago.
So the astute reader, if still awake, will ask "OK genius, what happens in 2032?" That's a good question: 1-32-52 ain't gonna work. Actually, we're in trouble in 2031, since "30 days hath September...". And then there's February. But at least 1952 is a leap year, so 2-29-52 still works for 2029.
I'm thinking that for 2031, I'll start over again at 1, assuming I live that long. So, say, the real January 15, 2031... will be 1-1-52 on the SNR. April of 2033 will be 4-3-52, and so on. I declare now that by the time we roll back around to October of 2035, I absolutely will not care that there's already a timetable on record for that date. It should be immediately obvious even to me that it's 30 flippin' years old.
As for February of 2030? (2-30-52?) I'm already preparing to just grin and bear it, apocalyptic as it sounds. Mark your calendar to write me then and rub it in. 😀