Yesterday's Technology . . . Today!

Boozy Allegations

IN 1958 I was working for Canadian Linotype in Toronto as a service engineer. Although none of the larger newspapers, due mainly to union restraints, were installing, or converting linecaster to teletype operation the Thompson chain and some smaller independent newspapers welcomed the technology.

Canadian Linotype had a small number of engineers trained on teletypsetter equipment. Unfortunately, one had just retired and another was in Wellsborough Pennsylvania on a Linofilm course. The General Manager decided in his wisdom that all Linotype engineers should be trained on the teletype equipment. The engineer who had just retired was hired back to run a teletype course over a long weekend. Engineers from across Canada were bought to Toronto to attend the course.

The instructor was very competent at his job and by late Sunday afternoon he said he was very pleased with us and he was confident that we could service both the perforator and the teletype operating unit without any problem. It was about 6pm so he suggested that we retire to a nearby tavern for a beer. Nobody disagreed and we all proceeded to the tavern.

At the time, I was rebuilding a Linotype in the Toronto plant. On the Monday I had just arrived in the workshop when one the secretaries from the front office gave me a letter from the General Manager. I thought this is good he is showing his appreciation for us working over the weekend. Imagine my surprise when I opened the letter to find all those who had attended the course were getting a blast.

"it was obvious you had spent the weekend boozing"

The letter went along these lines: I came into the office just after six on Sunday to find the place deserted. On looking around it was obvious you had spent the weekend boozing. A lot of money was invested bring service personnel to Toronto so you could reliably service all related typesetting equipment. I thought that you were responsible adults. The letter continued in this vain.

While still in shock, I sat down and wrote out my resignation, giving a weeks notice. I wrote that if having one beer at the tavern after the course was finished was considered to be boozing, I didn't want to work for the company. I took the letter in and gave to the GM's secretary.

The GM's secretary came out a couple of hours later and said that the boss was in and wanted to see me.

I went into the his office. He had my resignation in his hand. "George" he said, "You're over reacting. You may not have been drinking, but some one was". "No one had anything to drink, other than soft drink or coffee", I told him. "Well, how do you account for cartons containing six dozen empty beer bottles in the store room?" "I know nothing about any empty beer bottles. No one went near the store room." "OK. I apologise, take this back," he said, handing me my resignation.

Letters, or phone calls of indignation and resignations continued to come in from across the country. Phone calls and letters of apology continued to go out.

The mystery beer bottles. In those days when you bought a carton of beer you paid a deposit on the bottles. One of the storeroom clerks had them in his car on the Friday intending to get a refund and purchase beer on the way home. He was asked to make a delivery to a customer, so he took the cartons of bottles out of his car and put them in the store room and forgot them. Or that was his story.

Me, I worked for the company for another 12 years.

Copyright © Dave Hughes 2000-2015. All rights reserved.