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38 THEMISSOURIREVIEW MY WORK IN CALIFORNIA / James B. Hall I. The Younger Factory Oi the one hundred passengers arriving from Seattle (Boeing) myjob was only with thirty-four industrialists from Asia. Of this group a dozen were unexpectedly tall; a few wore dark, prescription glasses; only one man had two briefcases as carry-on. Not one delegate looked back at the aircraft or took a picture of the Oakland charter terminal. My welcome sign at the baggage claim area read in Japanese and Hindi: Industry Tour Delegates Here. They manufactured something or were of engineering backgrounds; therefore they were urbane and kept my placard in view but did not cluster about. Most of them spoke Oriental languages, but to me they used English: "Our weather is identical of here weather." "We have eaten considerately while at flying," and so on. At the luggage carousel one man from Korea claimed only a backpack and a pair of blue skis. By way of explanation their chief delegate, a Mr. Hognisko, said our gentleman from Korea join this California Inspection at last minute: all very good. Beyond the terminal entrance our bus was parked, its engine running. For this I was relieved. In my work a great many things can go wrong. Finally, our bus headed south towards San Leandro and the plant which was not far beyond Fremont. By courtesy, Mr. Hognisko had boarded first and had claimed a seat immediately behind the driver. Now Mr. Hognisko leaned forward very intently; in a small notebook he recorded the RPM and fuel gauge readings. I made a mental note to arrange later for him actually to drive our bus—under supervision—inside the factory yard: a little thing like that for a delegate is very memorable. As the bus went steadily through the last of the morning fog, I walked the aisle and answered their polite queries: Those salt flats at the edge of Upper Bay, were in production? The Alameda containershipping facility, was it eighty-percent automated? Concerning Blacks in major California cities: how much Blacks? The Korean's backpack was in the aisle beside him. Intensely, mostly with his arms, he was speaking to a man across the aisle; the man listened, did not change expression, but finally repeated the question to me in English: "Gentleman with valuable pack here say he makes fashionpurses —very many. Also: how far is Disneyland?" I replied that Disneyland was in the Los Angeles area, specifically at Anaheim, which was approximately four hundred miles south, about one hour flying time. "Gentleman says Disneyland not so far away." At first the factory appears on the horizon as several hundred aligned James B. Hall 39 ventilators, exhaust stacks, and air-scrub towers; closer, the immense roofs rise slowly from the ground and fill the bus windows. Only then do they really see the factory walls. I understand the reaction: they have flown a long way to see this absolutely state-of-the-art complex; in their own countries they may wish to build a replica. When at last in a moment of bus-window vision our factory becomes manifest, they fall silent, are a little reverent, a little stunned. I, myself, often view it at mid-morning in the California sunshine and still I have some slight feeling of awe. Our bus stopped at the entrance gate: There will be a slight delay. Actually, I believe these foreign-delegation delays have internal function. Not every unit of our Younger factory operates at any given time; therefore all tour routes are selectively programmed. The question is a good one: as an experienced guide, have I seen the complete layout, all units in production? Or: have I ever been programmed twice on the identical tour-route? Possibly, but my sole interest is professional: the art of tour-satisfaction. In about twenty minutes, as expected, a young woman in her three-wheeled golf cart rides out across the vast parking lot to our bus. She hands me the route-skip chart. Often we work together. Inside our bus, the young woman from Public Relations speaks to this delegation in English, German, and then in Turkish. First, an apology for this...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 38-50
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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