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The Success Machine   By: (1927-2002)

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THE SUCCESS MACHINE

By HENRY SLESAR

Mechanical brains are all the rage these days, so General Products just had to have one. But the blamed thing almost put them out of business. Why? It had no tact. It insisted upon telling the truth!

The Personnelovac winked, chittered, chortled, chuckled, and burped a card into the slot. Colihan picked it up and closed his eyes in prayer.

"Oh, Lord. Let this one be all right!"

He read the card. It was pink.

" Subject 34580. Apt. Rat. 34577. Psych. Clas. 45. Last Per. Vac.

" An. 3/5/98. Rat. 19. Cur. Rat. 14.

" Analysis: Subject demonstrates decreased mechanical coordination. Decrease in work energy per man hour. Marked increase in waste motion due to subject's interest in non essential activities such as horseracing. Indication of hostility towards superiors.

" Recommendation: Fire him. "

Colihan's legs went weak. He sat down and placed the card in front of him. Then, making sure he was unobserved, he broke a company rule and began to Think.

Something's wrong , he thought. Something is terribly wrong. Twenty four pink cards in the last month. Twenty four out of forty. That's a batting average of He tried to figure it out with a pencil, but gave it up as a bad job. Maybe I'll run it through the Averagovac , he thought. But why bother? It's obvious that it's high. There's obviously SOMETHING WRONG.

The inter com beeped.

"Ten o'clock department head meeting, Mr. Colihan."

[Illustration: The steel brain was having more fun than people.]

"All right, Miss Blanche."

He rose from his chair and took the pink card with him. He stood before the Action Chute for a moment, tapping the card against his teeth. Then, his back stiffened with a sense of duty, and he slipped the card inside.

The meeting had already begun when Colihan took his appointed place. Grimswitch, the Materielovac operator looked at him quizzically. Damn your eyes, Grimswitch , he thought. It's no crime to be three minutes late. Nothing but a lot of pep talk first five minutes anyway.

"PEP!" said President Moss at the end of the room. He slammed his little white fist into the palm of his other hand. "It's only a little word. It only has three little letters. P E P. Pep!"

Moss, standing at the head of the impressive conference table, leaned forward and eyed them fixedly. "But those three little letters, my friends, spell out a much bigger word. A much bigger word for General Products, Incorporated. They spell PROFIT! And if you don't know how profit is spelled, it's M O N N E Y!"

There was an appreciative laugh from the assembled department heads. Colihan, however, was still brooding on the parade of pink cards which had been emerging with frightening regularity from his think machine, and he failed to get the point.

"Naughty, naughty," Grimswitch whispered to him archly. "Boss made a funny. Don't forget to laugh, old boy."

Colihan threw him a sub zero look.

"Now let's be serious," said the boss. "Because things are serious. Mighty serious. Somewhere, somehow, somebody's letting us down!"

The department heads looked uneasily at each other. Only Grimswitch continued to smile vacantly at the little old man up front, drumming his fingers on the glass table top. When the President's machine gunning glance caught his eyes, Colihan went white. Does he know about it? he thought.

"I'm not making accusations," said Moss. "But there is a let down someplace. Douglas!" he snapped.

Douglas, the Treasurer, did a jack in the box.

"Read the statement," said the President.

"First quarter fiscal year," said Douglas dryly. "Investment capital, $17,836,975,238.96. Assets, $84,967,442,279.55. Liabilities, $83,964,283,774.60. Production costs are "

Moss waved his hand impatiently. "The meat, the meat," he said.

Douglas adjusted his glasses. "Total net revenue, $26,876,924... Continue reading book >>




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