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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPeck's Sunshine - About Railroad Conductors
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Peck's Sunshine - About Railroad Conductors Post by :Javier Category :Long Stories Author :George W. Peck Date :May 2012 Read :1631

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Peck's Sunshine - About Railroad Conductors

About the time the Wisconsin Central conductors were being hauled over the coals, some paper did a very unjust thing by insinuating that there was about to be a general overhauling on the old established roads, and carried the idea that there was crookedness among conductors who have been trusted employees for more years than the reporters of the papers making the insinuations have lived.

This is entirely wrong. It is well enough to joke conductors about "dividing with the company," and all that, and the conductors take such jokes all right, and laugh about them, but when a serious charge is made by a newspaper it is no joking matter.

Men who have held responsible positions for fifteen years under managers who are the sharpest men in this country, are not apt to be crooked, and we notice that when there is a chance they are promoted, and if they leave the railroad it is always to enter into a better business, and they are honored everywhere.

We hold that no man can occupy a position on one of our great railroads for ten years if he is crooked. It would not pay a conductor to steal, if he had the desire. They are all men of families, well connected, and many of them have children grown up. Would they do an act that would bring disgrace not only upon themselves but their relatives, wives, children, and forever debar them from society for a paltry few dollars that they could bilk a railroad company out of? The idea is preposterous, and an insult to their intelligence.

As well say that the bookkeepers of our business houses, the managers of our manufactories, were systematically stealing from employers. The conductors have got sense. This talk about stealing is disgusting. You send your wives and children off on a train liable to meet with accident. The first thing you do if you are acquainted with the road is to find out what conductor is going to run the train. If it is one you know, you feel just as secure as though the wife and children were under the escort of your brother.

You know that if anything happens the first thought of the conductor is the safety of the women and children, at the expense of his own safety. And when your loved ones come home safe, and you meet them at the train, and the conductor stands upon the platform as the train backs into the depot, looking at nobody, but his eye fixed upon the chances of accident, you always feel as though you wanted to put your arm around him and say, "Bully for you, old boy."

If your wife gets out of money on a journey the conductor goes down into his _own pocket, and not into the railroad company's, and tells her not to worry, as he hands her what money she wants. If your child is taken sick on the journey, who but the conductor sees to sending a dispatch to you quicker than lightning, and who brings a pillow in from the sleeper and makes the little one as comfortable as he would his own little one at home?

You appreciate these things at the time, but some day you will say, "How can a man drive a fast horse on eighty dollars a month?" Then you think you are smart. We will tell you. The conductors are pretty sharp business men. They can't travel all the time, and come in contact with all the world, and not be sharp. They see chances to make money outside of their business.

For instance, one of them who is a good judge sees a horse at some interior town that he knows is worth three times as much in Milwaukee or Chicago as the owner asks for it. He would be a fool if he did not buy it. We have known a conductor to make more money on two horse trades than his salary would amount to for three months. Would you object to his doing it? He did not neglect the business the company paid him to perform.

Sometimes a conductor feels in his inmost heart that the indications are that wheat is going up. Is it any worse for him to take a deal in wheat than it is for the deacon in his church? If he makes five hundred dollars on the deal, and puts an addition on his house, is it the square thing for you to say he stole it out of the company? Their knowledge of railroads and business frequently gives them an idea that stocks are liable to go up or down, and often they invest with good results.

We will take the chances with conductors, as square men, by the side of any business men, and it makes us as mad as a wet hen to hear people talk about their stealing. As well say that because one bank cashier steals that they are all robbing the banks. Quit this, now.

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