Bruce stood at his milling machine, rolling his eyes at the clock. His supervisor, Raul, entered the factory and led an elderly man to a table set up in the far corner of the room. The elderly man carried a beat up tan leather briefcase to the table and set up a small workstation.
Bruce tapped Luke and pointed. “What’s up?”
“Don’t know,” said Luke.
“I don’t like it,” said Bruce.
“Me neither. What’re we talkin’ about?”
“Did somethin’ get posted?”
“Haven’t seen nuthin’,” said Luke.
“There’s only one way to fig’re this out. Cover fer me,” said Bruce. He walked up to the elderly man.
“Hey,” said Bruce.
The elderly man turned and looked at Bruce through a pair of magnifiers. “Yes? Oh, hello. I’m Frank Cobin.” He held his hand out to Bruce.
Bruce ignored the gesture. “Never seen you ‘round here before. Whatcha’ doin’?”
“I’m just starting, actually.”
“That’s funny. I didn’t see no job postings on the internal board,” said Bruce.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name,” said Frank.
“I didn’t throw it.”
Frank removed his magnifiers and set them on the table. “Conversations are give and take, you know.”
“Fine. You give, I take.”
“Ain’t you too old to be workin’? Shouldn’t you be an old folks home somewhere?”
Frank crossed his arms and glared. “Yeah, well, some of us old folks still have something to offer.”
Bruce laughed. “Yeah, like what?”
“Expertise, for one. I’m an artisan.”
“Look around. None of these machines existed when you worked. They’re faster and and do the job better than you ever did, old man.”
“I was built for comfort. I wasn’t built for speed,” said Frank with a smirk.
“Exactly. You ‘n yer expertise mean nothin’ here,” said Bruce.
Frank leaned back in his chair. “That’s not true. I was hired precisely because I’m inefficient. Excellence cannot be rushed.”
Bruce scowled. “You’re nuts.”
Luke came over to eavesdrop on the conversation.
Frank grabbed his chin thoughtfully. “What do you do, here?”
“I make watches.”
“Do you really believe you can make watches cheaper than some factory in a third world country with loose labor laws and an overly enthusiastic workforce?”
“I don’t care. I just wanna a paycheck.”
“That’s not what the company wants. They can’t compete with foreign factories, so they decided to go in a different direction. We’re now making the finest timepieces in the world.”
“They’re just greedy.”
“No, they’re ambitious. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to excel at something. And if they don’t succeed you don’t get a paycheck.”
Bruce scoffed. “You don’t know nothin’.”
“I hope so,” said Frank with a grin.
Bruce swore and stormed away. Luke watched him go, then turned back to Frank. “Can I see what you’re doin’?”
Frank smiled. “Sure. I’m looking for an apprentice, just so you know.”
Luke sat at the table and the two started working.