Joe Lathrop knew that Robinson’s quiet efficiency and attention to business had not escaped the superintendent’s eye. He felt that the day might come almost any time when, on account of his “just one li’l’ drink,” or its consequences, he might have to yield his scepter to the younger man.
DISCHARGED WITHOUT CAUSE
Along about nine o’clock of this particular morning, Lathrop was brow-beating one of the men for some fancied fault near the place where Robinson was working. Seeing Robinson quietly doing his work, paying no attention to the wrangle so near him, only further irritated the suffering foreman.
“Robinson,” he yelled. “You have been here long enough to know better than this. What do you mean by standing there like a wooden post right beside this man and letting him make such a botch of these frames?”
Robinson, of course, being a wise man, kept his own counsel, and went on with his work. He could not acknowledge himself at fault when he was not at fault. His manhood revolted. His business was to concentrate upon his own work. Since he could not acknowledge the fault, he therefore said nothing. This, of course, was just what Lathrop did not want.
“Speak up,” he bawled, “explain yourself.”
“I have my own work to attend to, Mr. Lathrop, as you know,” he said quietly.
“I’ll have no back talk from you, you sulky dough-face,” roared Lathrop. “Get to hell out of here. Go to the office and get your time.”
Robinson knew better than to protest. He even hesitated to go to the superintendent, but finally decided to do so.
“It’s a shame, Robinson,” admitted the superintendent, “but Joe is an awfully good man when he is right, as you know, and as long as we keep him in our service we have to stand behind him in order to maintain discipline.” And so Robinson walked out with half a week’s pay in his pocket.
THE BEGINNING OF LOSSES
Let us estimate roughly what Joe Lathrop’s “one li’l’ drink” and his suspicious jealousy cost the piano company.
Of course, his first cost was the loss of time in the finishing room while Robinson’s place stood empty. It is fair to suppose that the company was making some profit on Robinson. It, therefore, lost the profit of those two days. Besides this, the machinery and the equipment Robinson operated stood still for two days eating up, in the meantime, interest on investment, rental of floor space, depreciation, light, heat, and all other overhead charges that it ought to have been making products to pay. In addition to all the overhead charges, the machinery ought also to have been making a profit for the piano company.