We were in Wakayama prefecture in Japan a couple of weeks ago but unfortunately didn’t get to see Tama the stationmaster of Kishi station who has sadly died. She has a full obituary in this week’s Economist.
She kept strict hours: 9am to 5pm on weekdays, with only Sundays off. In exchange she was given a stationmaster’s cap in her own size, always worn at a jaunty starlet angle; a stationmaster’s badge; as much tinned tuna as she could nibble at; and eventually her own office, with basket and litter-tray, in an old ticket booth. The work was not demanding; if it had been, she would have disdained to take the job. But by snoozing most of the day on the ticket barrier, or rubbing against the legs of passengers as they arrived, she increased traffic on the branch line by 10% in her first year. People would travel just to be greeted by her smooth and lucky purr.