The New Performance Sheet
Skeevers and the boys have been wrestling with the fuel and oil economy problem.
Skeevers got up his dollar performance sheet and left out all reference to pints, pounds and tons. At the top of the sheet he had a plain statement of the kind of fuel used and the price per ton, the kinds of oil used and its cost per gallon. Opposite the numbers of the engines came the names of the engineers, as usual; then the fireman's name; following was the monthly cost for fuel, oil, supplies, repairs, etc.; then the cost per mile for oil and fuel, and finally the cost per ton hauled per mile for both.
Skeevers allows a certain amount of fuel and a certain amount of oil per mile for each class of engine for running the engine, and then bears down hard on the cost of fuel and oil for hauling tons of freight miles - that's what counts.
The first two months Skeevers did not allow for running the engines at all, and some curious things happened.
In the first place the men soon discovered that the fellow with the lightest trains made the worst records, and the peculiar anomaly of an engineer- kicking because he had light trains was presented when Hank Bitters came into Skeevers' office and "made a holler," as he called it, because his local train was always light one way, and he explained his poor record to Skeevers thus:
"Mr. Skeevers, it's like this: If I run my consolidation over the division light, it takes considerable coal and oil; if I pull six cars, the amount used by the engine is divided up between the six loads, and if I pull twenty, it's divided up into twenty parts. The fellow with the full train has the advantage every time. Now, I'm on local one way, and usually have a very light train most of the time. You ought to allow so much coal and oil a mile for engines, anyhow, and just count what a fellow uses in doing work that the company gets paid for. What d'ye think?"
Skeevers thought Bitters was right, and said so.
One day, as Skeevers was going through the roundhouse, the boiler washer was blowing off an engine, and the house was full of fog and noise. From the depths of this gloom Skeevers heard the sonorous voice of Rory Moore, the traveling engineer, jacking up a runner for a poor oil record. Skeevers listened:
"Now, Tom, this is the last time I'm a goin' to tell you," said Rory. "You've had notis enough. Git right down to business, and use as little oil as any of 'em, or I'll pull you off the run. See! The Old Man (meaning Skeevers) is a goin' to have results or jobs. I don't care if you have a new engine; the road's goin' to have less oil used. Cut! Well, let her cut; don't you use the oil, or I'll pull you off. Remember that. Why, when I used to run the '16' I could" -
Skeevers didn't wait to hear that; he knew it was twenty years since Rory had run anything, and that he couldn't get over the road with any kind of a modern engine in anything like modern time or with modern economy.
Skeevers waited until afternoon, and then sauntered around to that same engine and called Tom down. Tom was ugly mad at what Rory had said~ame down with a bad grace.
"Tom," said Skeevers, pleasantly, "would you mind going down on the Coal Creek branch for a week or two, as a special favor to me?"
"Well, I don't know, Mr. Skeevers; but I - say, does old Rory ever go over the branch?"
"I'm afraid not much"
"It's all right; I'll go. I don't care much about bein' away from home and leavin' the '310' here. Can I have her when I come back?"
"Yes, Tom; you can take her with you, if you'd rather. I'll tell you. I've got a lot of young fellows down there that are careless, and I can't interest 'em in this oil or coal saving - they see so much coal they think it costs nothing. I want to send a good, carefui man down there to set 'em a pattern - going to commence a special bulletin for that branch next month. Now, I know you can do it, and do it right and honest - use all that's nec- essary and not waste any. You know there is nothing like a pattern to build to. Much obliged, Tom; I knew you'd help me out. I'll send you down soon as I am ready. How's she doin'?"
"Pretty fair; got her to steaming now; but she runs a little warm yet, and - well, I have to use a little more oil than regular; but I'll do the best I can."
"I know you will, Tom. Go out to the storehouse and tell Harry I said to give you a package of that flake graphite to put in her boxes; she'll be all right So long!"
Tom scratched his head for three minutes, and then went and looked on the performance sheet for his name; it was down near the tail; then he scratched again and went home. That night he told Tom, Jr., who is a fireman, that Skinny Skeevers was the decentest man that ever had charge of anything, and a man that wouldn't try and help him out ought to have his gullet cut.
And say, Tom did go down on the Coal Creek branch, and he did set the boys a pattern that will make 'em hump to equal. It's funny, but the men there said he could run light on oil because he had a new engine - same reason Tom first claimed for using more!
There are more ways than one to handle men.
Skeevers thought long and hard over what he should do with Rory Moore, the traveling engineer. Rory had a leg broken through his own carelessness, years before; but that was in the days when everybody was against the railroad, and rather than let him sue for damages, they created a soft place for him and agreed to give him a life tenure for it. Skeevers figured it out that the company would have been in big money if they had let him sue. He antagonized the men and loved to show his authority rather than teach; he always said "Go," never "Come;" unlike Skeevers, he was no leader.
Skeevers had just concluded to ask the general manager to "promote" him to some job in the water department, when Providence came to his aid and sent Mas- sey over on a visit.
There had been talk of a strike on the Midland and Massey was scared; he al- ways had a blue funk when he heard that the engineers and firemen were uneasy. He had spies out, but they seemed to re- port little to comfort him, and Massey was suspicious of 'em, anyhow.
"Now," said he, "if I only had Rory over there, he'd find out for me and he'd jolly 'em up. Great man to go among men and get 'em satisfied. That traveling engineer I had was no earthly good; always messing around about coal and oil economy and a regular crank on air brakes; had to set him back runnin'. Now, Rory"
"Glad you spoke of it, Mr. Massey," said Skeevers; "was just wondering what I'd do with him. Got orders to cut expenses again; thinking of putting him on the pay car. If you can give him a better job on the Midland it will help all three of us out - he's out in the roundhouse now. Jimmy, Jimmy! go out in the roundhouse and find Moore; tell him Mr. Massey wants to see him in mv office right away. Yes; Rory would find out all that's goin' on for you. They couldn't do much in a division that Rory wouldn't put you onto," said Skeevers, lowering his voice and winking at Massey.
Skeevers talked gravely of the troubles from organized labor, and the value of a peacemaker general, until Rory came; then he left the two worthies alone for half-an-hour.
"Mr. Skeevers," said Rory, coming into his private den; "Mr. Massey wants me to go to the Midland. I don't like to leave you, but he offers more money - but I've got a life job here, and" -
"Let me congratulate you, Rory; it's a great chance for promotion. Don't you see that Massey, poor fellow, is sickly - on his last legs? You go, and go right away; be his right-hand man and you will soon be - well, you know."
Then Rory thanked Skeevers, shook his hand warmly, and went out and clinched matters with Massey.
Verily, there are more ways than one to handle men.
The news of Rory's resignation leaked out quickly, and inside of twenty-four hours it had got down to the genernA office. As soon as the general manager heard it, he wrote a personal note to Skeevers as follows:
"My Dear Skeevers - Just learned with pleasure that you had buried another dead man on the Midland. That's right; let them have all of them. Rory has been a thorn in my flesh for years, with his con- founded life contract. In reference to the position, I would consider it a favor if you promote Engineer E. J. Staver to the position. We want young blood; I think he is capable, if he is a nephew of mine. I used to have compunctions about this relation business, but they have worn off, everybody favors relations; it's natural. "A. W."
Not content with that, he dropped a line to his nephew and asked him to call upon Skeevers in reference to a new position.
That very evening, as Skeevers was enjoying his after-supper cigar, Staver rang the door-bell and was ushered into the Skeevers sitting-room. Skeevers welcomed him warmly, gave him a cheroot and talked about the weather. Mrs. Skeevers took the baby into the next room, leaving the men to themselves.
"Well, Ed, what's new?" asked Skeevers.
"That's just what I come over to find out," answered Staver. "I got a note from 'A. W.' when I got home to-night, to call on you about another position, and, being as I live in the same block, thought I'd come over and find out what was up."
"I got a note, too," said Skeevers, slowly, blowing a cloud of smoke toward the ceiling. "I suppose you have heard that Rory Moore has quit?"
"No! I thought he had a cinch."
"Well, he did have; but he traded it to Massey," and Skeevers laughed.
"Well, Mr. Skeevers, was you considering me?"
"Yes, Ed; I was just thinking about you and that job when you came in; and do you know what I thought?"
"No; but I'd like to know."
"Well, I was thinking that it would be a bad thing for you, for me and the service - but especially for you."
Staver kept still and looked solemn for a minute, and Skeevers continued:
"There are a good many reasons why you would be a dead failure in that position, and to fail in such a job at your age is a set-back for life. Now, you can't afford to fail, can you?"
"No, I don't want to, but I'm not so sure I would. I think I'd like it, and no one would try harder, Mr. Skeevers."
"I know that, Ed; that's the worst of it. You'd fail for other reasons than the ones you were to blame for. Let me explain it to you.
"You are not a favorite with the men. Now, a traveling engineer don't need to be a favorite, but he must be a man that they like and respect as an engineer - one they can look up to as being as capable as any of them.
"You came on this road about ten years ago to fire; was put to work ahead of a lot of men on the list. Why? Because you were a nephew of the general manager.
"You were promoted two years earlier than other firemen. Because you were a better fireman? No; because you were a nephew of the general manager.
"You pulled freight eighteen months and was given a light passenger run ahead of a dozen older and as capable men. Because you were a better engineer? No; because you were a nephew of the general manager.
"You are looked upon as a man among men who is not to be judged upon his merits, but his blood - a man with a pull.
"Now, I believe you are a good engineer; above the average, perhaps. But you cannot be judged on your merits here. I believe you want to do the fair thing, and go to the front because you deserve to, don't you?"
"Yes, I do; and Mr. Skeevers, I've often thought I'd quit and go on another road, just for the way the boys hold me under suspicion like. I've never tried to join their lodges, for I know they think I'd carry things to 'A. W.' But"
"Well now, Ed, look here. You are a young man yet, and there's lots of room for you on your own merits; let me help you out. I don't blame you; you were pushed ahead, and, like most of us, took what the gods sent and was happy - most human beings would. You take my medicine and I'll warrant a cure of all these ills, or no pay. What do you say? The medicine is unpleasant to the taste, but good for the system. What do you say?"
"I'll do just what the doctor says," said Staver; "and really, Mr. Skeevers, I'd rather be figured on as E. J. Staver by all hands than as Mr. Wider's nephew - I ain't to blame for being a relative of his, am I? A man has to have some relations."
"I've always noticed that they do," answered Skeevers, lighting a fresh cigar. "But listen - the doctor is prescribing now.
"In the first place, I want you to write 'A. W.' a nice note, telling him you don't want the job - that all hands would say that it was on account of your blood, and not your ability; that while you are proud of the Wider blood in your veins, you want to show the men and the officials of the G. A. L. that you are an engineer first and a nephew afterward, and you think you can do that best on a freight engine, and have asked me to transfer you to one. Have you got that?"
"Yes; go on."
"Then write me a note, asking to be transferred to a freight engine on the division farthest from headquarters, and simply add that you realize that older men and better men deserve the easy runs, and that you want to work where the men don't know who your relations are. Stop there and don't tell a soul that you have written either note."
"Yes; anything else?"
"You are a single man and don't care where you are. I'll send you to Granger to trade off with a man who wants to move here on account of his children going to school. You go into the freight pool there and saw wood. You have something in you; get it out. You stand at the head of that performance sheet month after month, and show all hands that it's Ed Staver and not A. Wider that is backing you, and then I will have a good reason for promoting you - and I will promote you. Your reputation with the men leave to me. I'll square you there, and I won't be all winter about it. I've got the 'leakiest' time-keeper on earth in Ball; he's a chronic gossip. I left the Old Man's letter, equal to a command, about your taking Rory's place, where Ball would see it - he has peddled that out long before this, and the Stove Committee are discussing it now. Just you keep still and leave that to me. Can you go to Granger Saturday?"
"Yes," said Staver, getting ready to go. "I'll be glad to, and, Mr. Skeevers, I want to thank you for this talk - I'm going to surprise you; watch me. Goodnight!"
"James," said Sarah, ten minutes later, "I was just thinking that there are more ways than one to handle men - that's one way."
The next morning Skeevers ordered the roundhouse foreman to put Ole Sanderson on "7" and "8" regular, and send E. J. Staver to his office; then he took a long walk through the shop.
While he was out, the Old Man came in, nodded to the clerks, got into Skeevers' chair in his little glass pen out of sight of the door - hunted through the drawers for a cigar, found it, put his feet on the desk and waited.
Skeevers came in and stopped in the outer office to wash his hands; before he was through the door opened and a half- dozen engineers filed in under the leadership of Milt Smith.
"Good morning, Mr. Skeevers," said Milt. "Don't git scairt; this ain't no Grievance Committee. We jest come in to ask you one question; then we're all a goin' to kneel right down by that railin' and pray that you answers it the way we want yer to. There ain't no manner 0' dou't in any of our minds that you had a reason for chain-gangin' the passenger engines; but now that the '511' is out, we hope and pray that you give us our regular engines agin."
"Well, boys, I'll relieve your minds right now - you will all have your regular engines again to-morrow, the 1st. I did have an object in the change; that object has been accomplished, and we will go back to the old way - it's the best."
"Boys," said Milt, solemnly, looking around to them, "shall we kiss him?" Then, recovering himself suddenly, he said: "Really, Skin - I mean Mr. Skeevers, we are very much obliged, and while on the thanks branch we want to say that we thank you for putting Sander- son on the run that belongs to him by rights; he ought to had it when young Staver got it; but that was a'fore your time. 0' course, you can't help pushin' the young lad along - we know how that is - old Rory wan't no good, and the kid would have to be mighty poor if he couldn't do better than him, and lessen he gits to feelin' his oats and gits" -
"What are you driving at?" asked Skeevers.
"Why, our new traveling engineer, Mr. Staver, of course; you know he's got a cinch; but Lord, man, we don't blame you"
"Now, boys, look here; this is too bad. Just let me tell you something. You don't and never did give young Staver credit for what he is; as engineers go, for a young one" - here Skeevers bowed to the veterans - "he is above the average; but if he was the best and was promoted, you fellows would not give him credit. Now, I don't know as a man is justified in showing private letters, but here's one from Staver that shows that he's a man among men; for mind you, he could have had Rory's place if he had wanted it, but he refused it."
"Refused it!" said three men at once.
"Just read that out loud," said Skeevers, producing Staver's letter from an inner pocket and handing it to Smith.
Smith read: "Jas. Skeevers, S. M. P.: "Dear Sir - I hereby make application for transfer from passenger to freight service at your earliest convenience. In making this request it is due you to explain that I recognize now more than I did at the time that older and better engineers are entitled to easy passenger runs. I request that you send me to the farthest end of the road, where I can be known and measured by my work and not by my blood relations. "Respectfully yours, "E. J. STAVER.
"Milt Smith, all of you," said Skeevers, "you have misjudged a man. There's a boy who wants to stand on his merits with the rest of you and don't want any advantage, yet you fellows won't let him. It's you, not he, that mention his relationship with our general manager."
"That's right, Skeevers," said Milt; "and here's a sucker that ain't afraid to say so to him. I'm agoin' right out to the roundhouse and shake hands with the young feller; he's the making of a man."
"No use now, Milt; he's in Granger; went down on No. 1 - going to run out of there. But mind you, he deserves your respect; he's the peer of any of you; don't forget that when you do see him."
"Well," mused Squire Tobin, "if Mister Staver ain't going to be traveling engineer, who is?"
"That's to the point," said Skeevers, smiling, "and it also brings us back to the original question - the chain-gang. I don't know as it's good policy to tell who you are going to promote before they are consulted, but I guess it will be safe this time. You remember that I told you when the new performance sheet was adopted that promotions would be made on that, other things being equal? Well, I meant what I said. Who stands at the head of the list, and has stood there from the first?"
"Right, and Barney Murray will be your new traveling engineer. Some of you complained that he had the best engine, had different injectors, patent valves, etc., and that anyone could show a record if given an advantage - that's why I chain- ganged you last month.
"The new sheet will be out the 2d, and you will see that it was not the engine, but the man. Barney Murray will be at the top there, too. Besides that, Barney is an engineer capable of imparting his knowledge to others; his firemen are the best-posted freight men we have on the road, and he graduates quite a number. He is the man who asked to go with the air-brake car when it came - some of you were ready to sign a petition to send it away. Barney knows you all, is square and fair, and won't expect too much of you. But take my advice and follow him; he can lead you all right; and don't forget that the record is what counts - not your age, or your relationship, or your pull, but what you can do as engineers. You are doing well on fuel and oil; but look out for some of these freight men; they are thinking and working - sure to do something."
When the men got into the roundhouse again, on familiar ground, they talked over the whole matter and agreed that things couldn't be better. Barney Murray came in to register and was pulled into the circle and congratulated, and just when the good feeling was at its best the "pres- ent fiend" arose and said: "I move that we present old Skinny Skeevers with a gold watch for Christmas; he's hot stuff." There were ten seconds to the motion; but Barney Murray held up his hand for silence, got it, and said:
"Boys, Skeevers wouldn't take it; don't you remember five years ago, when a paper was passed for a gold watch for Massey, and half the men on the road had signed it; when it got to Skeevers and he wouldn't sign, and raised such a row that Massey had to order the paper withdrawn? You might pass a resolution, or something, but you couldn't give Skeevers a watch; he wouldn't let you."
"A testimonial, that's the thing," said one, "engrossed, framed and" -
"Mon," said Sandy Taylor, the roundhouse foreman, who had joined the crowd, "d'ye mind a teestamonial jest till the mind 0' Maister Skeevers? It wad be fra the shape 0' blueprant and framed wi' the reegular frame a the hoose awa'; it's the gude showin' 0' savin' coals the mon wants for a teestimonial fra' ye, d'ye mind?"
"Sandy's right," said Milt Smith, looking over his crowd; "we couldn't please Skeevers better than by making a showing on that performance sheet; it's results he wants; that's his success and ours, and I, for one, propose to try to improve my record; and boys, boys, if all of you didn't steal so much coal and oil I would be the bull 0' the woods."
As Skeevers went into his office, the Old Man slowly took his feet off the desk, opened the drawer, took a fresh cigar, and said:
"Skeevers, me boy, I came up in a hurry to see you on a certain matter, but I'm going back. I heard what you said to the gang-dead right - couldn't be no righter - you done that almost as good as I'd a' done it myself; all of which reminds me of that true old saying, that there is more ways to skin a cat than to run her through a potato peeler."