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All Aboard

All AboardThe Japanese, I love ‘em. From a distance of 10,000 miles they just seem to be a fun loving bunch, what with the cool anime and those hilarious TV shows. Well, it appears they’re having so much fun that they don’t have enough people to man their train stations. Check out their employment strategy.

KINOKAWA, Japan (AFP) – In times of need, Japanese say they can even ask the cat for help. In this town in western Japan, people look to Tama, a nine-year-old cat working as master of an unmanned train station.

The tortoiseshell coloured creature, born and raised at Kishi Station on the provincial Kishigawa Line, wears a formal uniform cap of Wakayama Electric Railway and calmly watches passing passengers who greet her.

Greetings vary between “Mornin’ Tama!”, “What up Tamo san?”, and “Harro Tama.” but all receive the same polite response, “Meow.”

The company feeds her in lieu of salary.

What else would you spend money on besides food, anyway? Well, I guess you could buy that remote control airplane you’ve always wanted and hinted about but would never receive from your significant other owners. But food works.

The station went unmanned in April 2006 as the line was losing money. But Tama stuck around.

…in January 2007 as the railway company formally appointed her as “stationmaster”…had an immediately positive effect, boosting the number of passengers using the line in January by 17 percent from a year earlier. For the year to March 2007, the number of passengers rose to 2.1 million, up 10 percent from the previous 12 months, according to Yamaki.

Happy with her successful job as stationmaster, the company promoted Tama to “super-stationmaster” in January this year, making her “the only female in a managerial position” in the company’s 36-strong workforce.

She now holds the fifth highest position in the company.

Before you say this is impressive, keep in mind that the fourth highest position in the company is held by Manny the Muskrat.

In reward for the promotion, Tama got a new “office”.

The office guarantees her some privacy.

“She declines to relieve herself when passengers are looking. We set the toilet where passengers can’t see,” Yamaki said.

“She works nine to five and takes Sundays off,” Yamaki said.

She also gets two 15 minute mouse chasing breaks and a half hour lunch every day, per the Local 2983 Cat Union rules.

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