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Page:Hine (1912) Letters from an old railway official.djvu/183

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Supplies and Purchases.

too much stock, due to an exaggerated view of future necessities. This mistaken theory is carried to the extent of denying to the division superintendent the custody of fifty shovels to be used by the emergency gang of fifty men which it is entirely within his province to order out to clear the road. The men he can command. The shovels, without which the men are useless, he must beseech from a storekeeper receiving, perhaps, one-third as much salary as himself. Of course, in an emergency, the superintendent takes the shovels, anyway. As I said before, it is a pretty poor system that breaks down in an emergency. The test of a system is an emergency. I confess my inability to see that being a user of material necessarily makes a man more indifferent to the company’s interests. Perhaps it is the same habit of mind that causes me to deny greater rectitude to the man in the accounting department.

The user of material has undoubtedly been careless in many cases. Will he not become more careless if relieved of responsibility and informed that he cannot be trusted? When children err, the wise parent does not disown them. From his fund of riper experience, he