Open main menu

Page:Hine (1912) Letters from an old railway official.djvu/127

This page has been validated.

Teh problem of the Conductors.

passenger conductors because of a fundamental misconception of the principles of true organization.

On the early railways the superintendent was the only officer the conductor officially knew. The superintendent, close to the president, was interested in the revenue as well as the disbursement side of the company’s ledger. If the conductor stole, if the returns were short on a day of heavy travel, the superintendent was among the first to know it, and to preserve his own reputation, and thereby hold his own job, promptly discharged the conductor. By and by some conductors graduated into superintendents. This new condition brought a new temptation. The conductor, if allowed to keep on stealing, and if favored with a run where the stealing was especially good, could well afford to whack up secretly with the superintendent. A few, a very few, superintendents yielded to this temptation. Along came the auditor with his mistaken theory that human nature can be changed and men made more honest by being put in “my department.” He said, in effect, “Take this away from the superintendent, who is dishonest and busy with other things; let this mysterious specialty of conduc-

115