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"Rules"

"So you're sure this is what you want. You want to learn the business. You want to make it your life's career."

"Yes Sir, that's what I want."

"You understand now, that you will just be an apprentice. You will be doing a lot of cleaning up, sweeping, delivering and taking out the trash and such?

"Yes Sir. I know that."

"And you'll be doing this for nothing. That is, I won't be paying you for it. Not a salary, that is. Whatever I give you will just be a bonus. You're not to start expecting it as a something you deserve, or something that you've worked for."

"Yes Sir, I understand."

"The work will occasionally be grueling, and I may expect you to work at times that's not to your convenience."

"Yes Sir. I won't mind."

"You say that now. But you won't likely feel the same when you actually have to do something for me, when there is something you want to do for yourself, or with that little girlfriend of yours."

"We've talked it over, Sir, and she understands my desire to learn all I can from you."

"That's good. And the two of you realize that this is a long-term commitment. It's not something that you do in your spare time, or can quit just because it doesn't suit your fancy anymore?"

"Yes, Sir. This is something I have put a lot of thought into."

"Ease up on the boy, there. You'll have him half scared to death from all them there rules a' yours. He said he'll do it, what more do ya want?"

"Everything, is what I want. I don't want any shrinking violet who thinks he is doing me a service by being my apprentice."

"But the lad is doin' ya' a service. He'll be doing all your work while you sit's back an' watches."

"It would seem that way. Is that what you think I'll be doing, son?"

"No Sir. I know I'll just be helping do the little stuff so you can take care of the bigger jobs that has to be done."

"You're gonna' work that kid to death. What's the boy gonna' get out a' the deal?"

"Good question. What are you going to get out of this deal, son?"

"I'll be learning a trade at the same time I'm getting experience, which is something I can't get anywhere else. And if I could, it would cost me a lot of money. Then, some day, when I have learned all I can, maybe you will turn some of the responsibility over to me where I can begin to earn a living. Otherwise, I can go into business for myself."

"Well said. Does that satisfy you old codgers?"

"Might them, but it don't me. You couldn't get me to folly a bunch a' rules like you has laid down. Not for nothin', you wouldn't."

"Me neither. I think you is takin' 'vantage of the boy, my own self."

"Me too also. Ease up on the kid. Give him some breathing space."

"Is that all the rules you have for me Sir?"

"Only the beginning. I expect you to be on time each and every day. And when quitting time comes, I don't want you to be watching the clock, but rather to be prepared for, and to happily work until whatever job you are doing is finished to completion."

"I will, Sir."

"And if I tell you to do something, I don't want to see any sign of resistance, or expressions of dissatisfaction. If I do, I will dismiss you then and there, and find another apprentice to take your place."

"No you won't neither. No other youngster would take on a deal like the hand you is laid down. I guar-en-tee that."

"Very likely so. But do you understand why I am so strict, son?"

"No Sir, not entirely."

"I appreciate your candor. And if there is anything else you don't understand, or want further instruction on, I expect you to ask. The reason I don't want any sign of resisting is that it indicates to me that you are losing diligences. That you are beginning to question my authority. And when I say beginning, I mean just that. I will know there will be much more to follow."

"I think I understand, Sir."

"Also, If you make a mistake, or break something, I expect you to tell me right away. Don't try to hide it. To do other than what I have just told you, is a sign of dishonesty, which will not be tolerated. Do you understand?"

"Yes Sir. I understand."

"I swan. I ain't hear'd so many con-founded rules since I got out a' the Army. You got a uniform ta' go with all them reg'lations?"

"Yes, I do. It's this apron. And that might not seem like much, but it is your sign of authority in this store. And as long as you are wearing it here, you are representing me. That is, whatever you do or say, is the same as me saying it. Therefore, watch your words and your behavior. I won't tolerate being misrepresented. If you are ever in doubt as to what I would do in a given situation, you come to me and ask. You are free to ask anything you want, and to have clarified anything you don't understand. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Sir. I think so."

"Good. Now here is a list of rules, mostly what I have already told you. Take these home, study them, then come back tomorrow and be prepared for work. If you have any question, we will discuss them. If you have any doubts, we will forget the whole thing, and you can go your way. Clear?"

"Yes, Sir. It's clear. I will see you tomorrow. And thanks again, Sir."

"Kid won't last a week out. You wait an' see. All them there rules a' yours."

"Why you want to be that way? You acts like you is God Almighty or somethin'."

"You fellas get the idea that he is going to do everything, and I will do nothing. Maybe some day long in the future. But until then, I will be spending most of my time instructing him, and correcting his mistakes, and having to explain to others, just as I am to you, why I even have the boy here in the first place. You all know that it's not that I need the help."

"Tha's true, I'm supposen'. Still seems mighty strict to me."

"Well, let's put the shoe on the other foot. Let's say you was to take a youngster onto your farm that has no knowledge of farming whatsoever. Just imagine the mistakes you will have to correct, and the time you will have to spend, and the headaches you will encounter. Now, would you want to expend all that time and energy, and this for the youngster's sake, not your own, if you thought for a moment that he would quit on you once he's learned all you have to teach, and you have finally reached a point where you can benefit from all that training?"

"No, reckon not."

"Ya' gots a point or two there."

"My kid's well over thirty, come to think on it, an' he still ain't learned enough where I can leave the place for more'n a week without frettin'. An' I been training him all his life."

"Well, you has made your point, shore 'nough. But I still don't think the lad's gonna' last the month out, no matter how good he be."

"You might well be right. And that would be sad. But, tell me; Who would lose?"

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