|An Evening's Events at the Marshmallow Factory (standard:Psychological fiction, 1447 words)|
|Author: GXD||Added: Oct 23 2008||Views/Reads: 2102/1182||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|This tall tale reveals how rational thinking leads to an unexpected conclusion.|
AN EVENING'S EVENTS AT THE MARSHMALLOW FACTORY It was midnight, but the graveyard shift hadn't come in yet. All I could dowas to sit here on my stool and play with the weigh scale on the counter. Late summer nights were like this every year. The night shift would go to a drive-in, stay for the triple feature and come to work about 1:30 a.m. We made only one product here -- but it wasn't marshmallows. About 1915, this guy who was nuts about automobiles went off his rocker and drew every penny out of the bank, so he could open up an auto factory. He built the building, bought and installed a passel of machines, then went off to talk to some people in Detroit and never came back. A couple weeks later, the postmistress got a letter addressed to her from Detroit: Marshmallow's obituary. So someone donated a can of paint and painted over its door: "The Marshmallow Factory". The building became a museum of sorts, and not being too far from the Public Library, the town council kind of took it over. They didn't have to ask anyone. Marshmallow had been a bachelor, parents dead, no brothers or sisters. We never knew what kind of car he would have built in his factory. About 1948, when I was just feeling my oats, I bet on a number and it paid off. I talked to the town council very persuasively, one bill at a time. Eventually their responses became neutral, and even encouraging. I decided not to change the name on the building but to build it into a unique business. Not to make money - just to have fun. Not to make marshmallows -- something simpler. Pins. There is an industrial pin known as the spring rollpin, since it curls up into a little cylinder springy enough to wedge in a smaller hole. Every auto company needed these pins, and all I had to do was make them cheaper and faster than anyone else. I already knew just how to alter Marshmallow's machines into the kind of pin-making machine that was needed. One that could make pins only a quarter-inch long, or six inches long. Some of the pins had a minuscule diameter; others barreled up to a fat two inches. There were soft pins for wedging; hard pins for locking; pins of steel and stainless steel; pins of bronze and aluminum; pins with heads and pins without. Pins with two tails for spreading; pins with crested engravings on their ends; pins that were rifled and striated. Pins that were smooth; pins with beveled edges. Pins plated with silver; pins plated with black oxide; gold pins and chrome-plated pins for assembling earrings. I hired an engineer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who worked with me all summer till every machine had been converted over and set up to make pins. When we were done, I gave him half in cash and the rest as shares in "The Marshmallow Factory". The machinery was totally automatic: load a couple of reels of metal in the coiler, push the "start" button and forget it for the next eight hours. A couple of nights in a nearby bar gave me the workforce I needed: A man-and-wife team for the morning, one for the evening and one for the night shift. Something about those pins really appealed to people. They were truly and sincerely thrilled with the prospect of being pin-producers, even when I offered them peanuts for wages. Next day, the raw materials arrived and we began to make pins. It went very slowly at first, because we hadn't gotten all the bugs out. I set them up to work together and practice for a few days, then got in the car and drove off to call on the auto companies. The first auto-makers seemed so skeptical, I was disillusioned. They wanted this-and-this dimension, or that kind of a bevel on the pin, and I had to explain how I could make it. They asked about the tolerance limits and the surface finish which I had to guarantee. They questioned my inspection methods and disagreed with my hardening procedures. They wanted to know the age and sex and eye color of the machine operators, and whether they were white or black. They seemed displeased with the wood beams which supported the plant roof and the lack of toilets. They didn't like the brand of oil I was using in the machines, the color of my shoes or the shape of my eyeglasses. Click here to read the rest of this story (70 more lines)
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