Letters From A Railway Official.
Because the unit system leaves so much to the thinking capacity of the men below, some people have found it difficult to understand. Many codes of organization attempt to cover in advance all the various cases that may come up. The unit system enunciates principles and prescribes methods, but leaves independence of action to the man on the ground. He is for the time being the judge as to what principle to apply. When men are carefully trained their first impulse is to do the right thing. This impulse has been dwarfed and deadened on many railroads by artificial restraints which make a man doubtful of his authority. The unit system reverses some old presumptions and puts the burden of doubt upon him who questions the official authority.
We have to take human nature as we find it, not as we think it should be. The master mechanic or the division engineer is riding on the rear of a train, at the company’s expense, and tells a young flagman that the latter did not go back far enough. If the flagman does not tell the official to go to h——, the trainmaster probably will. The trainmaster says, “This is my department, you have interfered with my man.” That is the old feudal concep-