That man already had a job that he had got from a want “ad.” He had been “copying letters” at home, “light, genteel work for one of artistic tastes.” But he found that one could not make any money out of it. Because, after one had bought the “outfit” necessary one discovered that it was humanly impossible to copy the bloomin’ letters in the somewhat eccentric fashion required.
He got several replies, as I said, to his replies to want “ads,” this man. One was a postcard which read: “Call to-morrow morning about work, Room 954, Horseshoe Building, X. Y. Z. Co.” Considering himself a gentleman, and being touchy about such things, he was annoyed at this manner of addressing him on a postcard. However he went to the Horseshoe Building. Room 954 had a great many names on the door, names there stated to be those of “attorneys,” “syndicates,” and “corporations, limited.” Among these names was that of the X. Y. Z. Co. Within, one side of Room 954 was partitioned off into many little alcoves. An antique, though youthfully dressed, typist, by the railing near the door, showed our friend to the X. Y. Z. Co., who was seated at a bleak-looking desk in one of the little alcoves. The alcove contained, besides the “Co.” (a little whiskered man, wearing his hat and overcoat) and the desk, an empty waste basket, and one unoccupied chair.
It was a “demonstrator” that was wanted, on a commission basis, for a fluid to cleanse silver. This alcove, it developed, was merely one of many thousand branch offices of the “Co.” scattered across the country. The “Co’s.” “factory,” he said, was over in New Jersey, a very large affair.
Mr. Bivens, that is the name of the gentleman of whom I have just been speaking, was invited, too, this time in a letter politely beginning “My Dear Sir,” to call at the offices of a moving-picture “corporation.” Asking to see “M. T. Cummings,” who had signed the letter, he was presented to an efficient-looking person, evidently an elderly, retired show-girl, who directly proved him wofully deficient in knowledge of “the screen.”
His next experience was with a portly, prosperous-looking gentleman who had elaborate offices in a very swell skyscraper. This man wrote an excellent business-like letter; he unfolded to H. T. (I always affectionately call Bivens “H. T.”) admiration-compelling plans for large business enterprises, which included a project of taking five hundred American business men on a trip through Europe after the war at a cost to each one of only four dollars and a half, the balance of the expenses of each to be paid for in local business co-operation.
Bivens was taken right into this energetic and enterprising man’s confidence. He did considerable outside work for his employer for ten days. On the eleventh day, reporting at the office, he found the promoter’s secretary and office boy awaiting him, in company with his office furniture, outside the locked door.