At first he was greatly handicapped by the prejudice of some of his superiors against correspondence school courses, which were very much newer at that time than they are now and regarded as much more of an experiment. His superiors were graduates of universities and looked down with contempt upon any merely “practical” man who tried to qualify as an engineer by studying at home at night and without the personal oversight of authorities in a university. But D.B. was dogged in his persistence. Missing no opportunities to improve and advance himself, he was, nevertheless, respectful and diplomatic. And he repeatedly demonstrated his grasp of the subject. Eventually he was promoted to the position of superintendent of the electric light and power company. There was only one man then between him and the desired goal, namely, the chief engineer.
At the time B. became superintendent the chief engineer was a young university graduate, and was perhaps a little too egotistical and dogmatic on account of his degree and honors. Soon after B. took charge as superintendent, the company decided to build a new central power station. The design was left to the young chief engineer, and the practical work of carrying it out to our friend. When, finally, the design was complete and passed on to D.B. for execution, he felt that it was defective in several ways. He spent several nights of hard study on it and became convinced that he was right. He therefore took the whole matter to his superior and tried to explain to him how the design was defective.
“I made that plan, and it is right,” said the chief engineer. “Your business isn’t to criticize the plan, but to go ahead and carry it out. Now, I don’t care to hear any more about it.”
“But,” said B., “if we carry out this plan the way it stands, it will mean the investment on the part of the company of something like $35,000 which will be practically dead loss. I can’t conscientiously go to work and carry out this plan as it stands. I am sure if you will go over it again carefully, pay attention to my suggestions, and consult the proper authorities, you will find that I am right.”
“That’s what comes of studying a correspondence course,” said the chief. “You get a little smattering of knowledge into your head. Part of it is worth while, and part of it is purely theoretical and useless, and because you have had some practical experience, you imagine you know it all. Now, you have lots yet to learn, B., and I am willing to help you, but I want to tell you that that plan and those specifications are technically correct, and all you need to do is to go ahead and carry them out. I’ll take the responsibility.”
“Very well,” said B., “if you want those plans and specifications carried out as they are, you can get someone else to do it. I would rather resign than to superintend this job which I know to be technically wrong.”