Now and on EarthBook - 1994
From the critics
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"No, you're not Jack London," said Mom, fumbling faster with the safety pin. "Jack London didn't give up just because he didn't have everything right like he wanted it. He wrote on fishing boats and in lumber camps and-"
"You didn't read your Jack London far enough. He began slipping off the deep end when he was thirty. Well I'm thirty-five. Thirty- five, can you understand that? And I've written three times as much as London wrote. I ..."
Some of the jobs in the plant -
Thompson worked in the stockroom:
I have, in all, four types of parts to keep record on: assembly, sub-assembly, and regular assembly-line issue. The fourth consists of parts such as cowling and firewalls, which, because they are bulky and difficult to handle, go direct to the assembly line-a fact which does not excuse us from keeping track of them. When a plane reaches a certain stage, it has a definite number of parts. We-I-am supposed to know what those parts are, regardless of whether I have seen them, and to show them as having been issued.
Dispatching, Production, expediter, Material Control, Sheetmetal, Sub-assembly, Factory manager, Plating, Painting, Planning, Lofting, Drophammer, Plannishing, Punchpress, Sewing, Singing, Praying'
(There are of course others like finance, contract proposals, Engineering and those who generated part numbers and create 'travelers' etc. Days before computer replaces most of them)
There is one expediter for every two positions on Final Assembly, and one each for Wing and Control Surfaces ... It is my opinion and the opinion of every other stockroom worker that they are damned nuisances who actually slow things down instead of speeding them up. But I suppose we're prejudiced. Practically every defense plant has them; if they weren't a necessity, they wouldn't be there. Blueprints and work orders get mislaid; foremen keep putting off a difficult job for an easy one; parts become buried in the various stockrooms; move-boys pile finished parts in with unfinished. So the expediters, who speed from one end of the plant to the other, who keep themselves informed of plans before they are reduced to paper, who are bursting with knowledge of every phase of production connected with their project - they really are necessary.
Here's your first item- -a bulkhead bracket, Number F-1198. We use four of those to a ship. We've issued forty to Final Assembly, and we have forty-three in stock. That gives us a shortage of seventeen. Twenty-five ships would require a hundred parts, and eighty-three from a hundred leaves seventeen.
We only looked through the door of the Plannishing Department, and that was enough to give me a headache for the rest of the morning. Here the castings are run back and forth through a series of rapidly moving hammers until they are beaten smooth; and the noise is too frightful to describe. It has no cadence; you can't accustom yourself to it.
I wanted to be a violinist. At least, I wanted to get away from jobs where people snubbed and swore at you. I wanted never to have to ask any one for money. I wanted attention, and admiration, and the chance to express myself. I started to write. You could get a pencil and a piece of paper anywhere.
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