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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 248

              [newspaper clipping]
$80,000 A YE[AR]
One of the Metropolitan
  Company�s �Spotters�
    Describes Its Se-
       cret Service.
Men Who Watch Conductors
  Are Watched by Others Who
     Are Also �Suspects.�
�Honest� and �Dishonest� Dishonesty
  Terms Well Understood Among
  	the Employes.
Broadway Ride from Battery to Eighth Street,
   with Thirty Passengers, When Not a
	Fare Was Registered.
  One who for years was a �spotter� for the
Metropolitan Street Railway Company tells
this remarkable story of the daily life of a 
spy whom even his employers do not trust.
The corporation, which spends $80,000 a year
on its secret service, holds that every con-
doctor is a knave until his innocence is
proved, but the �spotter� is never able to es-
tablish his own honesty.  The man who is
hired to find out the sins of others is himself
subject to continual espionage.  The �spot-
ter� watches the conductors, motormen, in-
spectors and transfer agents.  He in turn is
shadowed by the �head spotters,� who [word cut off]
pursued by private detectives.
  No one [words cut off]
spy is no [words cut off]
It is not unusu[words cut off]
honest.  He may accept bribes to loo[words cut off]
other way, or he may bear false witness.
The �spotter� who tells the story which fol-
lows and fortifies it with documentary evi-
dence was considered one of the most suc-
cessful of the �operatives� that the Metro-
politan Railway Company every employed.  If
he were a conductor, as he naively remarks,
he could find ways to get two dollars a day
for himself besides his salary of $2.25.
  The �spotters� catch, in the course of time,
one out of every five of the conductors in the
act of taking the company�s nickels, yet only
a part of the offenders are brought to book.
This �spotter� says that many of the con-
doctors of the company are afflicted with
that malady known as �rheumatism of the
arm.�  This disease prevents the victim from
raising his hand for the purpose of ringing
up fares.
  For obvious reasons the man who tells this
story of his own experience with the inside
workings of the spying system of the Metro-
politan Street Railway Company does not
wish to have his name made public.
          Method of Hiring �Spotters.�
  �Through the influence of friends,� said
the �spotter,� �I obtained an introduction
to the man ho hires all the spies for the
company.  His name is J. J. Swan, and he
is known as the paymaster.  To him all those
who wish to be employed on the road in any
capacity make application.  He has his office
in the car barn at No. 761 Seventh avenue.
No one who wishes to be a �spotter� ever
goes there to get employment.  He would 
not be considered for a moment, for the
first qualification of a �counter� is that the
men shall not recognize him.  The �spotters�
are never supposed to go near the offices of
the company.
  �I sent word to Mr. Swan that I would like
a position, and he sent word that he would
meet me at any place which I might name.
Our first interview was in the hallway of
a Broadway office building.  All the �spotters�
are hired in that way.  Sometimes they are
met by Mr. Swan at street corners, at others
in office buildings or in the rooms of law-
yers.  The meetings are arranged in places
where it is not likely that the conductors
will send spies to get descriptions of the
  �Mr. Swan looked at me very sharply.  He               
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