London Labour and the London Poor, volume 3
ANOTHER class employed in the omnibus trade are the timekeepers. On some routes there are of these men, on others . The timekeeper"s duty is to start the omnibus at the exact moment appointed by the proprietors, and to report any delay or irregularity in the arrival of the vehicle. His hours are the same as those of the drivers and conductors, but as he is stationary his work is not so fatiguing. His remuneration is generally a week, but on some stations more. He must never leave the spot. A timekeeper on Common has a week. He is employed hours daily, and has a box to shelter him from the weather when it is foul. He has to keep time for "busses. The men who may be seen in the great thoroughfares noting every omnibus that passes, are not timekeepers; they are employed by Government, so that no omnibus may run on the line without paying the duty.
A timekeeper made the following statement to me:—
The "odd men" are, as their name imports, the men who are employed occasionally, or, as they term it, "get odd jobs." These form a considerable portion of the unemployed. If a driver be ill, or absent to attend a summons, or on any temporary occasion, the odd man is called upon to do the work. For this the odd man receives a journey, to and fro. of them gave me the following account:— "I was brought up to a stable life, and had to shift for myself when I was , as my parents died then. It"s years ago. For or years, till this few months, I drove a "bus. I was discharged with a week"s notice, and
|don"t know for what—it"s no use asking for a reason: I wasn"t wanted. I"ve been put to shifts since then, and almost everything"s pledged that could be pledged. I had a decent stock of clothes, but they"re all at my uncle"s. Last week I earned , the week before , but this week I shall do better, say I have to pay a week for my garret. Im"a single man, and have nothing but a bed left in it now. I did live in a better place. If I didn"t get a bite and sup now and then with some of my old mates I think I couldn"t live at all. Mine"s a wretched life, and a very bad trade."