From John Graham, head of the house of Graham & Company, pork packers, in Chicago, familiarly known on ’Change as Old Gorgon Graham, to his son, Pierrepont, at the Union Stock Yards. The old man is laid up temporarily for repairs, and Pierrepont has written asking if his father doesn’t feel that he is qualified now to relieve him of some of the burden of active management.
CARLSBAD, October 4, 189-.
Dear Pierrepont: I’m sorry you ask so many questions that you haven’t a right to ask, because you put yourself in the position of the inquisitive bull-pup who started out to smell the third rail on the trolley right-of-way—you’re going to be full of information in a minute.
In the first place, it looks as if business might be pretty good this fall, and I’m afraid you’ll have your hands so full in your place as assistant manager of the lard department that you won’t have time to run my job, too.
Then I don’t propose to break any quick-promotion records with you, just because you happened to be born into a job with the house. A fond father and a fool son hitch up into a bad team, and a good business makes a poor family carryall. Out of business hours I like you better than any one at the office, but in them there are about twenty men ahead of you in my affections. The way for you to get first place is by racing fair and square, and not by using your old daddy as a spring-board from which to jump over their heads. A man’s son is entitled to a chance in his business, but not to a cinch.
It’s been my experience that when an office begins to look like a family tree, you’ll find worms tucked away snug and cheerful in most of the apples. A fellow with an office full of relatives is like a sow with a litter of pigs—apt to get a little thin and peaked as the others fat up. A receiver is next of kin to a business man’s relatives, and after they are all nicely settled in the office they’re not long in finding a job for him there, too. I want you to get this firmly fixed in your mind, because while you haven’t many relatives to hire, if you ever get to be the head of the house, you’ll no doubt marry a few with your wife.
For every man that the Lord makes smart enough to help himself, He makes two who have to be helped. When your two come to you for jobs, pay them good salaries to keep out of the office. Blood is thicker than water, I know, but when it’s the blood of your wife’s second cousin out of a job, it’s apt to be thicker than molasses—and stickier than glue when it touches a good thing. After you have found ninety-nine sound reasons for hiring a man, it’s all right to let his relationship to you be the hundredth. It’ll be the only bad reason in the bunch.