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

The Man All Over

The Man All Over.

He tilts his hat back from his brow, produces a pencil and becomes absorbed in something which looks to me like a large-scale cross-word puzzle. He endeavours to explain it, but its columns and sub-columns, its headings and tailings, leave me dizzy.

“Must hop along again,” he says, “to tell ‘em that there's time for refreshment at the next station,” and out he goes with a knowledgeable smile on his face.

The average traveller knows little of the activities of the “man behind.” He sees him pass through the carriage with an intent expression on his face which advertises that he is going somewhere and knows where he is going—but just what he is up to at the moment is a secret; except when he divulges his intentions by inviting “all tickets, please.” But sometimes he stands inside the door dumbly examining each passenger in turn; I used to think that he was on the lookout for erring passengers who place their feet on the opposite seat, and many's the time I have removed my pedals with stealth. But now I know that he is merely taking a tally of “heads”; for periodically he must page 23 count the passengers for the purpose of ascertaining the average accommodation needed—so many people, so many tons; so much feight, so much weight. He knows the weight of carriages, wagons and van, and, armed with this information, he arrives at the aggregate tonnage of the train; for certain sections of the track include inclines or “banks,” as raiwaymen call them, which will allow an engine to haul only a specified weight. Consequently it falls to the “man behind” to keep a tally of the tonnage behind the locomotive. Correctly speaking, the “man behind” is the “man all over,” because he spends more time all over the train than he does at the end of it.