This 1888 cartoon from Punch shows what happens when one doesn't take advantage of the services of such a railway pundit. [Click on thumbnail for larger image.]
At Tenway Junction there are half-a-dozen long platforms, on which men and women and luggage are crowded. On one of these for awhile Ferdinand Lopez walked backwards and forwards as though waiting for the coming of some especial train. The crowd is ever so great that a man might be supposed to walk there from morning to night without exciting special notice. But the pundits are very clever, and have much experience in men and women. A welltaught pundit, who has exercised authority for a year or two at such a station as that of Tenway, will know within a minute of the appearance of each stranger what is his purpose there, — whether he be going or has just come, whether he is himself on the way or waiting for others, whether he should be treated with civility or with some curt command, so that if his purport be honest all necessary assistance may be rendered him. As Lopez was walking up and down, with smiling face and leisurely pace, now reading an advertisement and now watching the contortions of some amazed passenger, a certain pundit asked him his business. He was waiting, he said, for a train from Liverpool, intending, when his friend arrived, to go with him to Dulwich by a train which went round the west of London. It was all feasible, and the pundit told him that the stopping train from Liverpool was due there in six minutes, but that the express from the north would pass first. Lopez thanked the pundit and gave him sixpence, — which made the pundit suspicious. A pundit hopes to be paid when he handles luggage, but has no such expectation when he merely gives information [II, 231-33].
Trollope, Anthony. The Prime Minister. [1875-76] "Oxford World Classics." Oxford: Oxford UP, 1951.
Last modified 3 February 2011