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- The Efficiency Expert - 4/31 -
Jimmy reached into his pocket and drew forth a roll of bills. "Here," he said, handing the other two tens.
"Naw," said the Lizard, shoving the proffered money away. "I'm no cheap skate."
"Come on--take it," said Jimmy. "I may want a box cracked some day."
"All right," said the Lizard, "if you put it that way, bo."
"I should think," said Jimmy, "that a man of your ability could earn a living by less precarious methods." "You would think so," replied the Lizard. "I've tried two or three times to go straight. Wore out my shoes looking for a job. Never landed anything that paid me more than ten bucks per, and worked nine or ten hours a day, and half the time I couldn't get that."
"I suppose the police hounded you all the time, too," suggested Jimmy.
"Naw," said the Lizard; "dat's all bunk. De fellows that couldn't even float down a sewer straight pull dat. Once in a while dey get it in for some guy, but dey're glad enough to leave us alone if we leave dem alone. I worked four hours to-day, maybe six before I get through, and I'll stand a chance of makin' all the way from fifty dollars to five thousand. Suppose I was drivin' a milk-wagon, gettin' up at t'ree o'clock in the mornin' and workin' like hell--how much would I get out of dat? Expectin' every minute some one was goin' tuh fire me. Nuthin' doin'--dey can't nobody fire me now. I'm my own boss."
"Well," said Jimmy, "your logic sounds all right, but it all depends upon the viewpoint. But I'll tell you: you've offered me your services; I'll offer you mine. Whenever you want a job, look me up. I'm going to be general manager of a big concern here, and you'll find me in the next issue of the telephone directory." He handed the Lizard his card.
"Tanks," said the latter. "If you don't want a box cracked any sooner than I want a job, the chances are we will never meet again. So-long," and he was gone as noiselessly as he had come.
Jimmy breakfasted at nine the next morning, and as he waited for his bacon and eggs he searched the Situations Wanted columns of the morning paper until his eye finally alighted upon that for which he sought--the ad that was to infuse into the business life of the great city a new and potent force. Before his breakfast was served Jimmy had read the few lines over a dozen times, and with each succeeding reading he was more and more pleased with the result of his advertising ability as it appeared in print.
WANTED--By College Graduate--Position as General Manager of Large Business where ability, energy and experience will be appreciated. Address 263-S, Tribune Office.
He had decided to wait until after lunch before calling at the newspaper office for replies to his advertisement, but during breakfast it occurred to him there probably would be several alert prospective employers who would despatch their replies by special messengers, and realizing that promptness was one of the cardinal virtues in the business world, Jimmy reasoned that it would make a favorable impression were he to present himself as soon as possible after the receipt of replies.
By a simple system of reasoning he deduced that ten o'clock would be none too early to expect some returns from his ad, and therefore at ten promptly he presented himself at the Want Ad Department in the Tribune office.
Comparing the number of the receipt which Jimmy handed him with the numbers upon a file of little pigeonholes, the clerk presently turned back toward the counter with a handful of letters.
"Whew!" thought Jimmy. "I never would have guessed that I would receive a bunch like that so early in the morning." But then, as he saw the clerk running through them one by one, he realized that they were not all for him, and as the young man ran through them Jimmy's spirits dropped a notch with each letter that was passed over without being thrown out to him, until, when the last letter had passed beneath the scrutiny of the clerk, and the advertiser realized that he had received no replies, he was quite sure that there was some error.
"Nothing," said the clerk, shaking his head negatively.
"Are you sure you looked in the right compartment?" asked Jimmy.
"Sure," replied the clerk. "There is nothing for you."
Jimmy pocketed his slip and walked from the office. "This town is slower than I thought it was," he mused. "'I guess they do need some live wires here to manage their business."
At noon he returned, only to be again disappointed, and then at two o'clock, and when he came in at four the same clerk looked up wearily and shook his head.
"Nothing for you," he said. "I distributed all the stuff myself since you were in last."
As Jimmy stood there almost dazed by surprise that during an entire day his ad had appeared in Chicago's largest newspaper, and he had not received one reply, a man approached the counter, passed a slip similar to Jimmy's to the clerk, and received fully a hundred letters in return. Jimmy was positive now that something was wrong.
"Are you sure," he asked the clerk, "that my replies haven't been sidetracked somewhere? I have seen people taking letters away from here all day, and that bird there just walked off with a fistful."
The clerk grinned. "What you advertising for?" he asked.
"A position," replied Jimmy.
"That's the answer," explained the clerk. "That fellow there was advertising for help."
JIMMY HUNTS A JOB.
Once again Jimmy walked out onto Madison Street, and, turning to his right, dropped into a continuous vaudeville show in an attempt to coax his spirits back to somewhere near their normal high-water mark. Upon the next day he again haunted the newspaper office without reward, and again upon the third day with similar results. To say that Jimmy was dumfounded would be but a futile description of his mental state. It was simply beyond him to conceive that in one of the largest cities in the world, the center of a thriving district of fifty million souls, there was no business man with sufficient acumen to realize how badly he needed James Torrance, Jr., to conduct his business for him successfully.
With the close of the fourth day, and no reply, Jimmy was thoroughly exasperated. The kindly clerk, who by this time had taken a personal interest in this steadiest of customers, suggested that Jimmy try applying for positions advertised in the Help Wanted column, and this he decided to do.
There were only two concerns advertising for general managers in the issue which Jimmy scanned; one ad called for an experienced executive to assume the general management of an old established sash, door and blind factory; the other insisted upon a man with mail-order experience to take charge of the mail-order department of a large department store.
Neither of these were precisely what Jimmy had hoped for, his preference really being for the general management of an automobile manufactory or possibly something in the airplane line. Sash, door and blind sounded extremely prosaic and uninteresting to Mr. Torrance. The mail-order proposition, while possibly more interesting, struck him as being too trifling and unimportant.
"However," he thought, "it will do no harm to have a talk with these people, and possibly I might even consider giving one of them a trial."
And so, calling a taxi, he drove out onto the west side where, in a dingy and squalid neighborhood, the taxi stopped in front of a grimy unpainted three-story brick building, from which a great deal of noise and dust were issuing. Jimmy found the office on the second floor, after ascending a narrow, dark, and dirty stairway. Jimmy's experience of manufacturing plants was extremely limited, but he needed no experience as he entered the room to see that he was in a busy office of a busy plant. Everything about the office was plain and rather dingy, but there were a great many file clerks and typists and considerable bustling about.
After stating his business to a young lady who sat behind a switchboard, upon the front of which was the word "Information," and waiting while she communicated with an inner office over the telephone, he was directed in the direction of a glass partition at the opposite end of the room--a partition in which there were doors at intervals, and upon each door a name.
He had been told that Mr. Brown would see him, and rapping upon the door bearing that name he was bid to enter, and a moment later found himself in the presence of a middle-aged man whose every gesture and movement was charged with suppressed nerve energy.
As Jimmy entered the man was reading a letter. He finished it quickly, slapped it into a tray, and wheeled in his chair toward his caller.
"Well?" he snapped, as Jimmy approached him.
"I came in reply to your advertisement for a general manager," announced Jimmy confidently.
The man sized him up quickly from head to foot. His eyes narrowed and his brows contracted.
"What experience you had? Who you been with, and how many years?" He snapped the questions at Jimmy with the rapidity of machine-gun fire.
"I have the necessary ability," replied Jimmy, "to manage your business."
"How many years have you had in the sash, door and blind business?" snapped Mr. Brown.
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