I simply mention this in passing, because, as I have said, you ain’t likely to be hiring men for a little while yet. But so long as the subject is up, I might as well add that when I retire it will be to the cemetery. And I should advise you to anchor me there with a pretty heavy monument, because it wouldn’t take more than two such statements of manufacturing cost as I have just received from your department to bring me back from the graveyard to the Stock Yards on the jump. And until I do retire you don’t want to play too far from first base. The man at the bat will always strike himself out quick enough if he has forgotten how to find the pitcher’s curves, so you needn’t worry about that. But you want to be ready all the time in case he should bat a few hot ones in your direction.
Some men are like oak leaves—they don’t know when they’re dead, but still hang right on; and there are others who let go before anything has really touched them. Of course, I may be in the first class, but you can be dead sure that I don’t propose to get into the second, even though I know a lot of people say I’m an old hog to keep right along working after I’ve made more money than I know how to spend, and more than I could spend if I knew how. It’s a mighty curious thing how many people think that if a man isn’t spending his money their way he isn’t spending it right, and that if he isn’t enjoying himself according to their tastes he can’t be having a good time. They believe that money ought to loaf; I believe that it ought to work. They believe that money ought to go to the races and drink champagne; I believe that it ought to go to the office and keep sober.
When a man makes a specialty of knowing how some other fellow ought to spend his money, he usually thinks in millions and works for hundreds. There’s only one poorer hand at figures than these over-the-left financiers, and he’s the fellow who inherits the old man’s dollars without his sense. When a fortune comes without calling, it’s apt to leave without asking. Inheriting money is like being the second husband of a Chicago grass-widow—mighty uncertain business, unless a fellow has had a heap of experience. There’s no use explaining when I’m asked why I keep on working, because fellows who could put that question wouldn’t understand the answer. You could take these men and soak their heads overnight in a pailful of ideas, and they wouldn’t absorb anything but the few loose cuss-words that you’d mixed in for flavoring. They think that the old boys have corralled all the chances and have tied up the youngsters where they can’t get at them; when the truth is that if we all simply quit work and left them the whole range to graze over, they’d bray to have their fodder brought to them in bales, instead of starting out to hunt the raw material, as we had to. When an ass gets the run of the pasture he finds thistles.