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Page:Hine (1912) Letters from an old railway official.djvu/61

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Limitations of Chief Clerk System.

Since these things are so, as runs the old Latin phrase, I would recruit my office assistant from the road, from the head of a so-called department, from an official who has gained a face-to-face experience in handling men. The old chief clerk is the first man I would consider for appointment as one of my junior assistants. I would so assign him that he would get outside experience. Sunburn and redness of blood sometimes go together. For the pink tea contact of the telephone, for the absent treatment of the typewriter, I would ask him for a while to substitute the strong coffee of the caboose and the surprise test of the through freight. Office railroading has its origin in the mistaken theory of overspecialization, that office work is a highly-segregated specialty beyond the ken of the average man. The world advances, and as education becomes more general, as tenure is made more permanent, and employment more attractive, we can impose increased requirements. Suppose that it all could be so worked out that a generation hence no man would expect to be a railroad clerk until he had served some such outside apprenticeship as trackman, brakeman, switchman, or fireman, etc. This would mean that in an or-