Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 2 (May 1, 1934.)

In Loco Parentis

In Loco Parentis.

With the end of his small green flag (furled “pro tem”) peeping out of his breast pocket, with his silverbanded hat, his whistle and his air of alertness, the “man behind” epitomises the spirit of “service”; if you take the trouble to look, you will see him here, there and back again—at the door of the van tallying out luggage and goods, on the track at a siding, writing a ticket while he balances with spread feet to the sway of the train, semaphoring the brake test signal, poking his little green flag out of the centre of the train, shrilling his whistle at a wayside station, flitting, hovering—elusive, yet omnipresent. He is the rear-guard, the safeguard and the vanguard of the travelling household known as a train. He is “maitre d'hotel,” tourist agent, family adviser, protector of the weak, director of the strong, announcer of glad tidings concerning the inner man, keeper of the baggage, and guardian, “in loco parentis,” of his temporary family. He keeps his third eye open (for he must have a third eye to see all he sees) to ensure that you don't endanger life and limb by leaning over platform gates; that you don't try to catch trains on the wing, as it were, and that you do not do any of those things which he knows you ought not to do for your own comfort and safety.

The “man behind,” equally with the “man in front,” is the man who sees that you get to where your ticket says you are going, and that you enjoy getting there. Like many of the good things of existence, he is taken more or less for granted but, since riding with him in his cubby-hole, I have found him out. He is no hero—and doesn't pretend to be one—and is essentially human; but he is an efficient and sympathetic human.