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Page:Hine (1912) Letters from an old railway official.djvu/114

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Letters From A Railway Official.

whom he could properly command. So the line, the operating department, soon grows so big as to require staff officers within itself, people who have time to think out improvements because they are not burdened with administrative responsibilities.

Hold tightly to this thought, my boy. The plane of differentiation between line and staff usually follows a cleavage based upon size rather than upon relative importance of function. The first line officer needed no staff, because he had time to think as well as act for himself. The first superintendent looked after the repairmen himself. The first master mechanic came into being not because he was so different from everybody else, but because the superintendent had become too busy to do it all himself. By and by the master mechanic forgot this basic fact and, unconsciously exaggerating his own specialty, began to feel that the railway is incident to shops and equipment rather than shops and equipment incident to the railway. The last five years have witnessed a decided improvement in this undesirable condition. Just at present the store department Indians are the tribe most in need of being rounded up on the operating department res-