A very long time on the job

  • Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013 12:01 a.m.

When he started working on the railroad, the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn, the Braves were still in Boston, and the Cleveland Indians were on their way to that season’s World Series title.

The “he” was Thomas H. Merrick. The “railroad” was New York City’s subway system.

And the reason Mr. Merrick is drawing considerable attention is that he finally retired on Aug. 31, two months shy of his 92nd birthday, after 65 years of employment in the Big Apple’s mass transit system.

Mr. Merrick began working as a railroad clerk in the summer of 1948. Born in Wilmington, N.C., he served in the U.S. Army’s 92nd Infantry from 1942-46, including World War II duty as a howitzer gunner in Italy and France.

After his honorable discharge from the military, he was a Veterans Administration clerk before taking that entry-level job with the transit system.

Mr. Merrick eventually worked his way up to station superintendent. And he drew this parting tribute from NYC Transit Acting President Carmen Bianco:

“When you consider his length of service, he has worked through the best and worst of times here at Transit, and through all that time, he has been a tremendous resource to both his co-workers and our customers.”

So lest you whine about being on your job too long, consider Mr. Merrick’s extended tenure — and sage advice: “You should take one day at a time, and if you enjoy your work, it will motivate you to continue working.”

And before condemning Mr. Merrick’s starting pay with the transit system — 90 cents per hour — as too low, heed his assertion that it was “a good and decent wage at the time.”

Consider, too, that in 1948 New York City’s base transit fare was 5 cents.

Today it’s $2.50 — and likely rising again soon.

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