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New Apples in the Garden   By: (1925-1980)

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction July 1963. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

NEW APPLES

IN THE GARDEN

Some problems are perfectly predictable yet not in the sense that allows a preprogrammed machine to handle them

BY KRIS NEVILLE

Illustrated by George Schelling

Eddie Hibbs reported for work and was almost immediately called out on an emergency. It was the third morning in succession for emergencies.

This time a section of distribution cable had blown in West Los Angeles. Blown cable was routine, but each instance merited the attention of an assistant underground supervisor.

Eddie climbed down the manhole with the foreman of the maintenance crew. There were deep pull marks on the lead sheath above where the cable had blown.

"Where'd they get it?" he asked.

"It came in from a job on the East Side."

"Sloppy work," Eddie said. "Water got in the splice?"

"These new guys...." the foreman said.

Eddie fingered the pull marks. "I think she's about shot anyway. How much is like this?"

"A couple of hundred feet."

"All this bad?"

"Yep."

Eddie whistled. "About fifteen thousand dollars worth. Well. Cut her back to here and make splices. Stand over them while they do it."

"I'll need two men for a week."

"I'll try to find them for you. Send through the paper."

"I can probably find maybe another thousand miles or so that's about this bad."

"Don't bother," Eddie said.

That was Eddie's productive work during the morning. With traffic and two sections of street torn up by the water people, he did not get back to his office until just before lunch. He listened to the Stock Market reports while he drove.

He learned that spiraling costs had retarded the modernization program of General Electronics and much of their present equipment was obsolete in terms of current price factors. He was also told to anticipate that declining sales would lead to declining production, thereby perpetuating an unfortunate cycle. And finally he was warned that General Electronics was an example of the pitfalls involved in investing in the so called High Growth stocks.

Eddie turned off the radio in the parking lot as the closing Dow Jones' report was starting.

During lunch, he succeeded in reading two articles in a six week old issue of Electrical World , the only one of the dozen technical journals he found time for now.

At 12:35 word filtered into the department that one of the maintenance crew, Ramon Lopez, had been killed. A forty foot ladder broke while atop it Lopez was hosing down a pothead, and he was driven backward into the concrete pavement by the high pressure water.

Eddie tried to identify the man. The name was distantly familiar but there was no face to go with it. Finally the face came. He smoked two cigarettes in succession. He stubbed the last one out angrily.

"That was a tough one," his supervisor, Forester, said, sitting on the side of Eddie's desk. Normally exuberant, he was left melancholy and distracted by the accident. "You know the guy?"

"To speak to."

"Good man."

"After I thought about it a little bit," Eddie said, "I remembered he was transferring tomorrow. Something like this brings a man up short, doesn't it?"

"A hell of a shame. Just a hell of a shame."

They were silent for a minute.

"How was the market this morning?" Forester asked.

"Up again. I didn't catch the closing averages."

"I guess that makes a new high."

"Third straight day," Eddie said.

"Hell of a shame," Forester said.

"Yeah, Lopez was a nice guy."

"Well...." Forester's voice trailed off in embarrassment.

"Yeah, well...."

"I wanted to remind you about the budget meeting... Continue reading book >>




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