Babbitt frequently remarked to his wife that it was better to “con your office-help along and keep ’em happy ’stead of jumping on ’em and poking ’em up—get more work out of ’em that way,” but this unexampled lack of appreciation hurt him, and he turned on Graff:
“Look here, Stan; let’s get this clear. You’ve got an idea somehow that it’s you that do all the selling. Where d’ you get that stuff? Where d’ you think you’d be if it wasn’t for our capital behind you, and our lists of properties, and all the prospects we find for you? All you got to do is follow up our tips and close the deal. The hall-porter could sell Babbitt-Thompson listings! You say you’re engaged to a girl, but have to put in your evenings chasing after buyers. Well, why the devil shouldn’t you? What do you want to do? Sit around holding her hand? Let me tell you, Stan, if your girl is worth her salt, she’ll be glad to know you’re out hustling, making some money to furnish the home-nest, instead of doing the lovey-dovey. The kind of fellow that kicks about working overtime, that wants to spend his evenings reading trashy novels or spooning and exchanging a lot of nonsense and foolishness with some girl, he ain’t the kind of upstanding, energetic young man, with a future—and with Vision!—that we want here. How about it? What’s your Ideal, anyway? Do you want to make money and be a responsible member of the community, or do you want to be a loafer, with no Inspiration or Pep?”
Graff was not so amenable to Vision and Ideals as usual. “You bet I want to make money! That’s why I want that bonus! Honest, Mr. Babbitt, I don’t want to get fresh, but this Heiler house is a terror. Nobody’ll fall for it. The flooring is rotten and the walls are full of cracks.”
“That’s exactly what I mean! To a salesman with a love for his profession, it’s hard problems like that that inspire him to do his best. Besides, Stan—Matter o’ fact, Thompson and I are against bonuses, as a matter of principle. We like you, and we want to help you so you can get married, but we can’t be unfair to the others on the staff. If we start giving you bonuses, don’t you see we’re going to hurt the feeling and be unjust to Penniman and Laylock? Right’s right, and discrimination is unfair, and there ain’t going to be any of it in this office! Don’t get the idea, Stan, that because during the war salesmen were hard to hire, now, when there’s a lot of men out of work, there aren’t a slew of bright young fellows that would be glad to step in and enjoy your opportunities, and not act as if Thompson and I were his enemies and not do any work except for bonuses. How about it, heh? How about it?”
“Oh—well—gee—of course—” sighed Graff, as he went out, crabwise.
Babbitt did not often squabble with his employees. He liked to like the people about him; he was dismayed when they did not like him. It was only when they attacked the sacred purse that he was frightened into fury, but then, being a man given to oratory and high principles, he enjoyed the sound of his own vocabulary and the warmth of his own virtue. Today he had so passionately indulged in self-approval that he wondered whether he had been entirely just: