The great push was over, and tracks now reach from coast to coast. Of course, more lines are inevitable, and are likely getting built with much less fanfare and attention from newspapers than the golden spike that joined the lines in Nevada received. Stewarding the long haul freights is still a lonely job, and now that the haul is even longer, likely to get even more lonely.
So competition to work those runs isn’t all that fierce.
Even so, there is some, and the quiet business of the society of stewards and pursers is to make sure that our members live up to our standards. We work behind the scenes, and we like it that way. With one of our members in charge of lading and manifests, the cargo’s owners can rest assured that their valuable cargo is moving as safely as possible.
In my long career, I’ve come to believe that the best stewards and pursers are not just above reproach, but are intelligent and motivated to solve problems as they arise.
The country is a big place. The run is long, and I might have mentioned lonely. Telegraph service does follow the rails, so when trouble does arise, they can inform the stations up and down the line as needed. But most problems facing our members boil down to some local hauler facing far more freight than he understood, or far less than he expected. Either way, we need people willing to make the tough call and deal with the situation without consulting the home office for every little detail.
I did mention that they must be above reproach. That should go without saying, but every once in a while we are faced with a trickster. A little harmless fun is no problem at all, until the prank touches the cargo itself or the sender or receiver. After all, safely hauling their cargo is a sacred trust. Don’t mess with the sacred trust.