Keep the Change
TAKE me as I am — a tall, lean Joe Doaks past thirty-five, with a wife, a child, a house, a maid, a mortgage, bifocals, good dentistry, a bank account, life insurance, and time payments. I own a car, a radio, an oil painting, Venetian blinds, and am contemplating building a picket fence to protect my young and to endorse publicly the fact of my investment in real estate.
This thing that I am owes its commonplace but respectable identity to the restaurant business. Without it I should not have dared to marry. I should still be living in a catchpenny boardinghouse, as close to down-andout as an Irishman can go.
So, unaware of the pitfalls and obstacles, I opened for business. I decided to open at seven to catch the early morning breakfast trade. The place was equipped to serve food, and it was only sensible to start with the first meal of the day. Besides, I was always up at six-thirty anyhow, which gave me plenty of time to get to the restaurant, put the change in the cash register, and start doing business. It would be an easy and interesting day, and I would close up around nine-thirty. I was my own boss, and I figured I could get away when the noon rush was over for a rest before dinner.
My neat theories of schedule were upset the moment they went into practice. I had overlooked the fact that the milkman and the breadman were no longer on bowing-and-scr aping acquaintance with me. My commercial enterprise entitled me to certain discounts — and the courtesies extended to housewives were not included in the bargain, I was merely one call on a route for the dairies and bakeries; and the call was scheduled to occur, not at seven o’clock, but at 4.30 A.M. Likewise the express company. And a shipment of mountain trout could not be left on the sidewalk. There were ordinances against it — and also alley cats.
I discovered, furthermore, that a hungry male sometimes prefers hot cereal to cold — and that it takes time to heat a steam table — and that the insurance company has rules about open burners left unguarded.
My day began, then, at four o’clock rather than seven, and ended at tenthirty or eleven. No one had told me that I should be delayed nightly by a meat block that required scraping, an icebox that had to be cleaned, a floor that had to be mopped, laundry that had to be counted.
And how could I have foreseen that there would be no lulls in a nineteenhour day? That insecticide salesmen, utensil salesmen, menu-card salesmen, advertising salesmen, would swoop down on me at any hour, hovering in my own booths until they caught me free, attacking me with a flow of oratory that was inevitably directed at my pocketbook? In my first enthusiasm I had time for them all. And, still wet behind the ears, I invested in steel wool only to discover that a housewife can use steel wool but a restaurant man can’t. Suppose a piece of steel wool gets loose and hides in the stew and gets in a customer’s tooth? I ordered handsome porcelain pots and pans and remembered later that porcelain chips, and that there must be an ordinance against it! I bought amusing charcoal drawings for the walls, and was forced to hang them seven feet up after several were discovered missing.
We were dealing, it appeared, with individuals, each one dyed deep in his own prejudices and desires. While one man told me cheerfully he had walked seven blocks for a cup of my inimitable coffee, another spun his nickel across the counter and demanded: ‘What right have you got to serve such swill?’
I looked long at the coffee urn. Inimitable coffee to one was swill to another; but it was the same coffee. And by golly, prince or pauper, it was going to be the same coffee for each and every one. At that moment I arrived at my first manly conclusion: I would deal with these individuals collectively, to the best of my ability, regardless of their personal whims and whines. The four inches of restaurant door constituted a dividing line, and the individual became one of the crowd when he passed it. The idea presented exciting possibilities. If I could treat the individual collectively and avoid running up against his prejudices, I should offend fewer people. For the first time I began to analyze my menu. And my eye lit upon French toast!
Now, French toast to me is the authentic article only when it is cut to a meticulous half-inch thickness, golden on top and soft when a fork cuts it. That is the type of French toast I was serving, having fought the cook to a finish on his quarter-inch crisp brown conception. But now I remembered in swift succession the number of orders of French toast sent back to my kitchen. What I had called soft and golden had been termed ‘soggy’ on more than one occasion. On the other hand, when the cook suffered a throwback and turned out his crisp brown variety, more than one customer had referred to it bluntly as ‘dry as sawdust.’
The chef and I were two individuals, each with a preconceived notion of what French toast ought to be. My customers were individuals, with preconceived notions, open to disappointment. As there was no hope of achieving a French toast that was universal in its appeal, the thing to do was to take it off the menu, where it merely asked for trouble.
‘Stick to eggs, my boy,’ I said to myself, a great light dawning. ‘As long as you are handling individuals collectively, avoid running up against personal idiosyncrasies.’ I removed French toast from the menu, and it has never appeared there since.
Among the comments of my friends when I opened the restaurant was one remark that caught my fancy: ‘What the town needs is a first-class restaurant with good home cooking — and there’s money in it, too. There’s a fellow in Chicago mopping up on stewed chicken and noodles.’
So I chose stewed chicken and noodles for my luncheon special. It seemed like a good idea. Hundreds of people liked it. And hundreds of people liked giblets, too, prepared with rice in the good oldfashioned manner. Gizzards and livers don’t cost extra — every hen has them, and they would add an extra dish to the menu to offset the price of the chicken.
But it soon developed that the restaurant tycoon making a daily fortune in Chicago on his Stewed Chicken Special was catering to a different setup. Chicago, with its estimated transient population of 1,000,000, provided him with a steady turnover of customers — far different from the small town where my trade was drawn from the same people daily. The owner of the restaurant in the big city knew none of his prospective customers for stewed chicken and noodles — and hoped he’d never have to. Chances were slim that the same busy passer-by would drop into his restaurant on successive days. A new passer-by, hungry for stewed chicken, was his fortunate expectation, whereas my business depended upon luring the same bankers and lawyers and merchants back to the restaurant each noon. It was evident that a daily recurrence of stewed chicken and noodles was not the way to do it. The tycoon in Chicago could stick to the same dish and make it pay — in my case the dish merely stuck to me, and had to be thrown out with the garbage.
But I was not discouraged yet, because I was still learning. Stewed chicken made an alarming hole in my reserves, but it taught me something about ordering. I found to my surprise that the head and feet on a two-pound chicken weigh just about as much as the head and feet on a three and one-half pound chicken. So another enlightening fact went down in my notebook: as long as I had to pay for waste in any case, it was more practical to buy a three and one-half pound chicken, where the waste was proportionately less.
Waste there was and always would be. A lamb chop, a chicken, a steak, all had one thing in common. They were sold by the pound by a vendor who included in his price all the bone and waste material. Nature in her wisdom did not deem it advisable to grow beef without bones or to turn out T-bone steaks of the same circumference (although they might weigh the same). It was ordained that the restaurant keeper should grapple and deal with such problems.
I was aware of the problems, but I knew no way of solving them —just as I could not arrive at an answer to why a high-salaried cook was unable to make the cheap cuts of meat tender, while a low-salaried cook could succeed only in making expensive cuts of meat unfit for human consumption.
A crap game and a stranded chef gave me my first cue to the slide-rule methods that I have come to use in operating — and in saving my restaurant!
I was, as you have seen, having cook trouble, waste trouble, and chickenstew trouble. I was also having roastlamb trouble. Only the centre portions of a roast lamb could be served as roast lamb, and the rest found its way into stew that was as plentiful as stewed chicken and just as unpopular when it appeared as a daily diet on my menu.
It was at this point that the crap game cleaned out a chef en route to his westcoast hotel on the way back from his vacation! He was only the third chef, but he had a good job. If he had been the first chef, the hotel would have wired him an advance. As it was, he wired the hotel and ran to cover in my kitchen, where he went to work to earn funds to return to his regular job.
After the series of cooks I had hired and fired, he proved to be a wizard. He tackled the roast-lamb and lamb-stew problem professionally and he knew the answer. To-day you never see roast lamb on my menu; but once a week you see lamb stew, and you always see lamb chops. It works this way.
Once upon a time a French chef with a Machiavellian soul hit upon the idea of paper frills for lamb chops. A nice touch, in more ways than one. It enabled the chef to trim off all meat from the bone, leaving the chop itself intact. He put the trimmings in a crock to accumulate, and, when he had enough meat, Spring Lamb Stew in Natural Broth appeared as the day’s special. Frenched Lamb Chops were born, and poor saps like me discovered that it was cheaper to buy paper frills than to serve roast lamb in order to have leftovers for lamb stew.
We sell a lot of lamb-chop orders in my restaurant. There are two chops to every order, and the customer does not miss the meat that has been cut away and camouflaged by a paper frill. In fact, he likes the paper frill. It adds a festive touch. It provides a dainty excuse for picking up the lamb chop to eat it.
Frenched Lamb Chops proved to be a twofold miracle. Spring Lamb Stew sold well when it appeared as a special a week or ten days apart. We gave it an added air by serving it in a casserole — which enabled us to check quantities in the kitchen and serve exact portions. Even the cook’s assistant could be trusted to fill a lamb-stew order when he was given a container with a limited cubic capacity. The dumber he was, the more efficient he became at the simple business of scooping the stew from the pot and depositing it in an earthenware dish with a cover to keep the stew hot and to protect it against foreign substances.
This was my first encounter with legitimate tricks of the trade that protect a man against a garbage can that can break him.
In spite of my offers to keep the chef on in the capacity of prima donna or any other role he wished to play, he left me in a short time to go on to his job in the big hotel.
But he had sown the seeds of the soulless method of operation that has proved essential to the successful running of a restaurant. I began to figure short cuts for myself. I introduced individual pies on my menu when I discovered that the proportion of crust to filling is more in an individual pie than in a large pie served in slices. Filling is more expensive than crust — and that was the only answer I needed.
I capitalized on Service. Do not think it is without forethought that the plate of hot biscuits and golden pats of butter are placed before you as soon as possible when you order Roast Beef Au Jus on the $1.00 dinner. You are hungry. We know that, or you would not have come into the restaurant. And you are particularly hungry for a slab of good rich rare roast beef. If we brought on the hot biscuits with the beef, the chances are that you would tackle the beef first, on the theory that the child starts with his ice cream if he can get away with it. By starting you off on hot bread, the sharp edge of your appetite is gone when the roast beef arrives. As you waited, whether you wanted to or not, you involuntarily reached out for a biscuit. The butter melted when you spread it — the hot bread tasted delicious. And you reached for another biscuit. There is nothing more filling than hot bread. And hot bread is cheaper than roast beef. The slab of roast beef that we serve you is ‘just enough,’ and just what we can afford on the $1.00 dinner. But if you tackled it with a sharp appetite, you might go out grumbling about our meagre portions and you might not come back for another $1.00 dinner when you had a hankering for roast beef again!
This glimmering of intelligent operation was only a beginning. I was still confronted with a diminishing reserve. The trouble with all bookkeeping is that it is in the past tense. By the end of t he month, the damage is done. But over a period of time the documentary evidence of my books showed me where the damage lay. I arrived eventually at the 40 per cent forecast.
I found that, out of every hundred cents on the dollar, I could afford to spend only forty cents with the butcher and baker. Sixty cents of my cash receipts had to be left with me to pay for the running of the kitchen, the salaries of cook and waitresses, the gas and electric light bills, the rent, the payments on equipment, the taxes and other whimsicalities of local, county, state, and federal governments. In this sixty cents were also included my mysterious and ever-vanishing alleged profits.
It became my business, then, to arrange a menu priced to pay me 60 per cent gross profit, and it behooved me to redecorate only when the 60 per cent allowed it and not when my wife got tired of the murals. My budget forced me to seek credit, postdate checks, measure ingredients, and portion servings. It made me crab about lights left burning. It made me poke in the garbage can. In short, it made me the sort of man I had hoped never to be. The only thing I did not do was chisel on the 40 per cent. I continued to buy the best food available with forty cents out of every dollar.
The women in the family indicated that doilies were more appealing than tablecloths, so doilies were ordered. Eventually the doilies and small-sized napkins did a natural disappearing act. I could have suspected the waitresses of deliberately making away with them because it is so much harder to set a table with a lot of little doodabs than with one large tablecloth. The doodabs slip off on the floor. Besides, the tables are n’t big enough to hold doilies. I could have suspected the customers, who unwittingly mistake a small square napkin for a pocket handkerchief. I could have suspected the laundry, which can’t be expected to keep track of doodabs. But I did not bother to suspect anyone. By then I had learned my lesson, and, although the doilies were not yet paid for, I went in for large-size tablecloths and ten-by-twelve napkins.
I started out with enough silver to take care of the maximum possible business I could expect in my small-town restaurant. While that maximum was seldom reached, I was often short of silverware. Inventory disclosed a curious discrepancy in the number of spoons on hand and the number originally purchased.
Now, nobody eats a spoon; and not too many spoons can go out with the garbage. A squib in a New York paper announcing an exhibit in a large department store of a collection of spoons from restaurants all over the world, lent,by a private collector, gave me the wrathy knowledge. Nobody eats a spoon, but some people carry them away.
It is no wonder that I have a driving curiosity to peer into the kitchen drawers of my friends. It gives me a private satisfaction to find a spoon marked with the name of my restaurant buried in the confusion of their everyday silver.
I had never reckoned on silverware and linen being spirited away — any more than I had reckoned on china wearing out. Again the health commission came into my life when a chipped dish was put before one of their employees. This taught me to toss out chipped dishes — and to reorder new ones at a cost that had not been included in my original budget for equipment.
There is no one problem in the restaurant business that creates more conflicting emotions in the breast of Joe Doaks, Prop, than the problem of his employees. Take Annie. Annie is a waitress. She is also a housewife. Annie has rent to pay, food to buy, doctor bills, laundry bills. It is impossible to strike an attitude in the case of Annie. The principles of social justice rise up in the soul of Joe Doaks and command him to regard her as a human being. But the principles of the slide-rule operation on which the restaurant is run compel him to regard her in the same calculating manner that he regards a can of beans or a butt of beef.
These are my tangled emotions as I figure how many hamburgers I must sell to keep Annie on the payroll, and how many more I shall have to sell before I can raise her salary — or the salary of my cook, my porter, my barman, and my dishwasher. Particularly my dishwasher!
It is impossible to sit with my slide rule and disregard the human forces that help contribute to my success or failure; nor should I want to. My second cook, like the dishwasher, allows me an insight into his life outside the kitchen. But — unlike the dishwasher — he is a miracle man when it comes to making his dollars stretch. He prefers the old feudal system of having the master pay his bills; and the bills that come to my desk charged to the second cook are an education in self-control and lack of indulgence. Here is one man who seems to be able to make his own private slide rule work. His grocery bill has listed as little as one egg, one pound of rice, a bag of beans, a bag of flour. And yet the children of the second cook look like a row of husky, well-scrubbed, well-fed little dolls when they come to call on me.
I find myself in the embarrassing position of counselor to the second cook on his problems that deal with the family. When the PWA discovered a latent talent in the oldest son and proffered violin lessons free of charge, the second cook put the question before me. Was it worth while to invest money in a violin in order to take advantage of lessons in violin offered free? This forced me to pass judgment, not only on the budgeting of my second cook’s salary, but also on the quality of the instruction in violin that could be expected from the PWA.
Sometimes I think that it is the cook that balances the budget. If he is efficient he can keep the operating costs of my kitchen within the percentage I have allowed for it. If he is negligent — or goes suddenly berserk — my slide rule slips and I am encroaching on my precious profits.
Because I have ‘subbed’ for the cook on more than one occasion, I have an enduring sympathy for his sins of drunkenness, disobedience, temper, and neglect. There is no more nerve-racking job than serving as kingpin during a rush hour in a restaurant. The system of taking orders from the waitresses, alone, would upset a robot. In my restaurant the waitress calls her order and the cook echoes it back. If he fails to answer, it means that he is holding beneath his cap, behind his eyes, in the limited cells of his gray matter, as many orders as he can remember and get right. If there is a rush of customers, with a rush of orders, the chances are that the cook will find the entire staff of waitresses lined up waiting to shout what his already overcrowded brain cannot remember.
In turn, the cook may ring the bell to indicate to the waitress on the floor that her steak order is ready. It may be a steak done to the perfect turn of ‘medium rare.’ When the waitress does not answer the ring and the cook sees the steak going dry before his eyes, his soul rebels. There is no excuse in his eyes for the waitress who has offended his steak, even though the proprietor may know that the girl has been listening to the complaints of the little old lady who eats at the restaurant every day of her life because she can enjoy a homey little chat with the waitress who serves her.
I have fired my cooks for immorality, inebriation, instability — and for ‘ borrowing.’ Speed was the black boy with fallen feet who ‘borrowed’ our baked hams. He sat at his range on a high stool built especially for him because if he stood too long his ‘feet gave way’ beneath him. Nick was the chef who got drunk on New Year’s Day and caused the head waitress so much anxiety that she figured it would be better to get drunk with him in order to stop worrying.
Little restaurant man that I am, little business man that I am, I belong to an unidentified group that represents the greatest financial wizards of all ages. Our name is not Morgan; nor is it Du Pont. Our name is legion. We are the Minute Men of Main Street — the frontline militia on the battlefield of finance, remarshaling our forces every twentyfour hours, planning our attack with every new sunrise, flanking the banks, kiting checks, pulling financial rabbits out of hats, and praying to God on each of the three hundred and sixty-five days in the year that our little business may stay open.
And we have stayed open. We were here in 1929 and we are here in 1939. But ask us how we did it, and we wonder ourselves. Who was it that closed in 1929? It was the banks and Big Business that ran to cover, while a little restaurant man like me did not have enough sense to come in out of the rain. Little grocery stores, little shoe stores, little beauty parlors, defiantly kept their doors open — rolled up their sleeves, wiped the drops of moisture from their brow, justified their position as the backbone of the nation by showing a reckless, extravagant, and stubborn belief in the nation.
‘What shall we use for money?’ is our common language. And if, as in my case, the bank does not always care, we may use anything from a butt of beef to a can of peas to meet the payroll. Messrs. Morgan, Du Pont, and Astor are bowed into the front door of the countinghouses, their fingers wrapped comfortably around their checkbooks. They know nothing of the little business man who hangs his rheumatism on a hook and hotfoots it to the bank at two minutes before closing time to try to raise ninety dollars for a C.O.D. shipment of perishable food parked in the back alley. They know nothing of the peace of a Sunday or a holiday when the doors of the countinghouse are closed, bequeathing twentyfour hours’ grace to its check writers.
There are no statues built to the little business man and no coins struck for him. Our proportions are not heroic enough to impress a banker, an author, or a movie director. Yet our potential forces and collective ingenuity enlisted by the nation would probably solve the toughest financial problem the New Deal could offer. We are the boys who are fresh out of money at the start of most of our days. Fighting for a breathing spell, wangling for a postponement of defeat, scratching around for pennies, postdating, mis-signing, and stopping payment on checks, allowing papers to be served on us because the cumbersome wheels of the law sometimes give us a blessed respite. We are the boys who go to bed chorusing, ‘Well — we got by to-day.’
Why do we do it — this scrabbling around for petty sums, this tantalizing, tormenting, repetitive struggling from day to day? It is not as if the stakes we are playing for were high. This is no rags-to-riches, no poorhouse-to-penthouse story. All we are after is bean money. But hope springs eternal in man’s bony chest. Probably every little business man harbors a private yearning to be a big business man; and the reason he takes his daily pummeling is that he thinks that possibly — just possibly — his day is coming, too!
And what have we learned in this three hundred and sixty-five day endurance test? A salient fact about financing that is marked by its simplicity. There are two ways to stay in business. One way is to pay your bills at maturity; the other way is to owe so many bills that it does not pay any single creditor to put you out of business. Reverting back to optimism, you find that hope springs eternal in the chests of your creditors also. They are hoping that you can get out of your hole — so that they can get out too. They are fair-weather friends, but they cannot afford to let you down when they are in so deep that their books have blushed red in the afterglow of your emba rrassment.
While paying your bills by the tenth and taking your discount is the admirable and unadventurous way of doing business, it looks as if there were points for the other method — which is the slow-paying way. The prompt payment is good payment as long as it is prompt. But when the day comes along that so often comes along and the discount is not taken, the credit manager of the big business that is dealing with the little business is instantly on his guard. Mr. Prompt Payer is a babe in the financial woods. To date he has had no financial worries, as evidenced by the discounts credited to him in previous months. He is unfamiliar with alibis, finagling, squeezing by. He has never had to pull a financial rabbit out of a hat. The question is whether he can do it now that his hour has come. A credit manager may doubt the potentialities of the Prompt Payer and cut him off his list.
On the other hand, there is Slow Pay, who has danced in the meadows of money and plucked loans like daisies. He is familiar with the alibi, which may wear the sheep’s clothing of (1) the check he forgot to sign; (2) the unexpected C.O.D. shipment; or (3) the check he cashed for a customer, which bounced. Slow Pay has no vines growing on him. He has learned to hop, skip, and jump when he gets in a hole. He wears a grin on his face and brains under his hat. He has managed thus far — and it is the credit manager’s hunch that he wall continue to manage to the bitter end. He may lose his shirt, but the skeleton of his honest endeavor will remain. He is extended credit on his wits, his sense of humor, his dogged determination, and his never-ending struggle to pay. The credit manager knows that long after the fixtures have gone the character lingers on!
As a restaurant owner, I encountered two brutal facts when my reserve was gone. First, I found that I was not entitled to credit because, theoretically, I sold for cash and therefore should buy for cash. Secondly, I found that the bank did not care to — and would n’t — become a partner in my business.
The explanation of why there was no more reserve lies, of course, in the fact that I was learning the restaurant business firsthand, and my mistakes were evident only after the damage was done. I paid dearly for my errors. The restaurant business is not something that can be culled out of a book like the law. I could not reach down for a Supreme Court decision on a butt of beef. The butt was something I had to discover for myself — after a long period of searching through the unfamiliar anatomy of a cow. To-day the butt of beef is a profitable investment, eliminating waste and contributing toward my 60 per cent gross. But there were many days when the hindquarters failed me.
With my reserve gone, the only money I have to go on is the cash in the till. Theoretically, if everyone pays cash, there should be sufficient cash in the till to pay my food costs and the costs of operation if my business is functioning as I planned it. But it is n’t! I have a fine crop of theories, but they are n’t working. And why not? To start with, everyone is not paying cash. By now a number of my friends have discovered that they can hang their meal check on the hook at Joey’s. And before I know it I am extending credit to too many people for too long a period. This is nobody’s fault but my own, but I still refuse to preface my life with a dollar sign. By this time, also, I have given my all to the restaurant, leaving nothing for the tailor, the cleaner, and the mechanic who attend to my wants in private life. Therefore it is not an unfamiliar sight to see them occupying my tables, taking their payment out in trade.
As I dip my way through the till, the day comes when there is not enough money to meet the unpostponable items of public utilities and payroll. And I am forced to let my other bills go in order to meet these paramount claims on my checkbook. At first, nothing much happens. Nobody is concerned about a few days’ delay, and a remarkable degree of coöperation is extended to me. The dairy, the iceman, and the other local boys know me and trust me. It is at their suggestion that I write my first postdated checks — a primary move in the long process of stalling. The postdated check is a workable arrangement — for a while! In the end it becomes a farce. We find that we have anticipated our daily cash receipts some thirty or forty days in advance to cover the postdated checks, that we must squeeze every nickel to keep them from bouncing when their appointed hour comes around. In time we learn that the casual suggestion, ‘Give us a check — date it ahead,’ is merely a salesman’s way out. We learn to say, ‘Do you want a check — or do you want your bill paid?’ And we know that if we were dealing with the credit manager, instead of with his myrmidons, the postdated check would be refused and the credit probably extended. But the salesman is not entitled to extend credit — and so we sign our John Hancock to just so much paper.
Finally one day, with total irreverence, I signed a stream of checks to end all checks. A good-sized bank account would scarcely have covered them, and my statement at the moment showed a balance of only $25. It was not a case of a man’s reason snapping under pressure. It was in direct compliance with my creditors’ demands: ‘I want a check.’ If it was checks they wanted, I decided they should have them. By the time I had written two or three, word got around that Joe Doaks was paying off. By noon, the bank was on the wire:
‘You can’t do this — it’s a felony — a man as intelligent as you knows better.’
I agreed that I knew better.
‘But why did you do it?’ they asked.
‘To show my creditors the light,’ I answered. ‘The bank is not out anything, — and I am not out anything, — but the bill collectors won’t clamor any more. They understand now that my hesitancy to write them a check lies in the fact that I have no money — and not in a wayward desire to stall.’
When I can’t cover the postdated check, the fun begins. The wholesale house telegraphs me: ‘We are in receipt of your order of such and such a date. Also your check which has been returned to us on account of insufficient funds. Please advise us at once as to what we should do.’
I telegraph back: ‘Hold the check and ship the order.’
And they do. Why? Because the credit manager is a psychologist and figures that if Slow Pay has the nerve to telegraph back nonsense he is probably a safe bet. In due time the credit manager happens to pass through my town, and he comes to see me. In his hand is the postdated check. He waves it at me and says: ‘ Well — do you think we’ve held this long enough?’
We laugh. We talk. I write him another check. And in the end I have sold him on myself — Joe Doaks, little restaurant man who has n’t got sense enough to take the easy way out, which is to close the doors and go off leaving his bills behind him.
It is not so strange that a man begins, finally, to question the achievement of owning his own business, and to gaze with thoughtful eyes at the fellow on the other side of the fence whose biggest problem is to adjust his life within the economical brackets of the weekly honorarium that his employer dishes out. Salary checks to cash — and not to pay! I sometimes dream of it and the idyllic life that goes with it. No fixture company! No banks! No whimsical White House! A charmed life — but one that may lack the crucial moments that toughen a man’s soul, along with his muscles, as he hotfoots it around to save his little shop.