Copyright© 2015 by Lumpy
I was up early the next day to get my run in, and get to work. So far, work had been really fun. Today would be my first long day at work. I had spent the last several days I worked with Mr. Farber and his team, watching them work on a bearing assembly. They had let me watch them take it apart, had showed me how to read the design blueprints, and assigned me a ton of reading. For most people, reading about bearings may not sound interesting, but that's because most people haven't looked into the history of that small mechanical piece. Turns out a form of bearings were used by the ancient Egyptians, and Leonardo daVinci drew a diagram of a bearing assembly that looks remarkably like some of the roller bearings currently in use today. It was really fascinating stuff.
They even let me take some of the blueprints and test printouts home to read. Tina had caught me looking at them and had called me a nerd, but she was kidding. I am pretty sure she was amazed that I was sitting at the kitchen table with these blueprints and test diagrams. Of course, some of the math on the test diagrams was way beyond me; but I was doing a lot of cross-referencing, to try and figure out what it all meant.
When I got into the shop, Mr. Farber and his team were gathered around one of the R&D workbenches arguing about something.
"Albrecht, I know you want to think the best of people, but it has to be the supply house. We have checked out all of the mechanics and everything runs smoothly. The only thing that could explain the loss of strength over time is substandard metal. We checked everything else."
"I know, I know. I talked to COO and he swears they checked the last batch completely and it should hold up. Besides, we are using some of the same steel in other parts and we are not having degradation issues there."
They clearly had been at it a while already, and everyone was looking frazzled. I refilled all their drinks and cleaned up their area, since it was about the only way I could contribute. After that I left them alone to start doing some of the data entry the sales team had left for me. I kept one eye on Mr. Farber however, because I had a question for him once they started to break up. When I saw the team start to pack up their papers, I rushed over hoping to get a moment.
"Umm, Mr. Farber."
My, he was annoyed. He was usually so polite that his tone was even more noticeable. I think even some of his team noticed it.
"I am sorry to bug you, but I was doing some of the reading you assigned me last Wednesday, and there is something I don't understand."
"Sure, but make it quick. My head hurts, and I have had just about enough of this place today."
"Sure. Sorry to keep you. So I was looking at the first test, the one where everything went smoothly. Then I was look at one of the tests on the returned piece that was showing stress, but I couldn't find out why the two diagrams were so off. See, on this first one there is just the steel flushing, on the front. On this other one, there is this other stuff that I don't know what it is. I only noticed it because it is slightly off center in the tests, from what you can see in the original design diagram."
I pointed to the diagram. He grabbed it from me, looked at it off handily, and then froze. He really looked at the two documents, and then yelled for his team to get their asses back over to him. Everyone was really excited. I knew whatever it was I showed him was setting them off, but since I didn't understand the new diagram completely I was lost.
One of his team was standing open mouthed in disbelief, "How the hell did we not see this," while another exclaimed, "Son ... of ... a ... bitch."
Mr. Farber was just shaking his head, "Because, we were only looking at the rebuild diagram and the results of the returned piece. We had shelved the original diagrams after the update to add the pieces marketing suggested. No one thought to go back and look at them."
Both men turned to look at me and I gave them a helpless look, "I have no idea what is happening, right now."
Mr. Farber grabbed my arm, dragged me over to the workbench and started pointing at areas on the diagram. "Look, here! You see this part that you asked about. You mentioned how it was slightly off from the original diagram. That is tin flashing. It's used to make the piece look ... shiny I guess is the best way to describe it. Before the update, this part looked really ugly and marketing asked for us to add something to make it easier to sell. Why a shiny part sells better don't ask me, but apparently it does. We had compared the updated diagram to the test of the returned piece, and both had the tin flashing on it. But you're right; if you look at the original you see that there is a slight variance. If I had to bet, I would say during long use the Tin is unseating and sliding into the frame. I swear we had all forgotten the piece used in the long wear test was one of the ones without the tin plating. You just saved us an incredible amount of time. Son, you're a genius."
"No, but apparently I am lucky. I had no idea what I was looking at. I just noticed something was different."
The other engineer was just smiling, "What you are is a God damn good luck charm. It would have been weeks 'till one of us thought to pull the original diagram and test results."
It seemed the whole team wanted to shake my hand. I knew my input was a complete fluke, but I can't say I didn't love the praise. Ted chose that moment to walk out to join us.
"Come on Cas, time to get your paycheck."
Mr. Farber held up his hand and said, "One sec, Ted, do you know what your wunderkind here did? My team spent the last three days trying to figure out the problem with those tapered bearings and were getting nowhere. He walks in here, sets some plans down, and finds the issue in under five minutes."
I was looking sheepish and wasn't sure I liked being called a wunderkind.
"I was just asking a question. I had no idea what I was even looking at."
Ted shook my hand, "Yeah, but sometimes it is that one question that makes all the difference. You're already one week in, and showing us what you can do. Damn I am good at hiring people."
They all laughed at Ted's self-congratulation.
"Cas, clean up the areas down here then come up and get your check from Mary Ann."
It took longer than normal to clean up, because I kept getting stopped for back slaps. Eventually I did make it up to Ted's office, and Mary Ann handed me an envelope. I started to turn and leave when Ted stopped me.
"Go ahead and look at it now, son."
I said, "Okay," and opened the envelope.
Looking at my check I was surprised. It was only one week of work at minimum wage, but there was an extra line that said there was a bonus of $500.
"Ted, what is this bonus?"
"For what you did downstairs. Albrecht said you saved his team a week or two of work trying to find the problem. Those guys get paid a lot of money, and now they can focus on new products. You just saved the company a stack load of money. This is an expression of my appreciation."
"This is too much. I didn't do anything."
"Bullshit. You earned it. I am proud of you. Now git! One of the shop guys is waiting on you, downstairs, to drive you home."
Wow, $500 extra! I even managed to talk the guy driving me into stopping at the bank to cash my check.
When I got home Tina and Margret were already sitting down to lunch, but Tina jumped up when she saw me.
"Cas, I didn't know you would be home so soon. Let me grab you some lunch."
"I'm okay Tina, I ate earlier." I pulled an envelope out of my back pocket and put it in front of Margret and then sat down. She looked confused and opened it, the stopped cold.
"What is this, Caspian?"
"Remember that hardship work permit I had you sign?"
"Well, you signed it. I then went out and got a job. This is from my first paycheck, plus a bonus I got. Well, most of it is the bonus, since normally I wouldn't be paid so much."
"Cas, there is $600 here."
"Yeah. I kept out a little for myself, so I could take out Zoe."
"But why are you giving it to me?"
"Margret, I know we are having money problems. You have always done right by me, and now I am giving back."
She looked stunned.
"How did you know... ?"
"Honestly? I snooped. You have seemed really upset, recently, and Tina and I were worried. So I did some snooping. I know we are behind on bills."
"I wish you wouldn't have done that. I am the parent here, let me worry about our finances. And stop looking through things that don't concern you."
"Margret, I am a member of this family and I know we are having trouble. Let me help."
"No, I won't accept your money. You should be going to school like a normal student, not going out and getting a job. Why can't you just be a normal teenager?"
"That's not fair Margret. I am doing well in all of my classes, advance classes I should add. I am handling all of my responsibilities, something I think most parents would be happy to have their teenager do."
"That's besides the fact. I don't need your money Cas."
I was getting frustrated and stood up.
"Ok, well if you change your mind the offer is still open. I am headed over to Zoe's."
Tina caught me just outside the door.
"I will work on her, Ok? Give me the money, I will figure out a way to make her take it."
I smiled at Tina and gave her a one armed hug while handing her the envelope, "Thanks Tina."
I got to Zoe's house, and found that Vicki and Josh were both there. Given our new arrangement, I wasn't all that surprised to see Vicki; but, in the time that I had known Zoe, I hadn't seen Josh visit before.
"Hey, guys. What's going on?"
The girls both came over and both of them gave me fairly intense kisses. If I'd had to guess, I would've said they were putting on a show for Josh's benefit ... maybe to get the idea of the three of us out there before we went back to school on Monday. Josh, for his part, sat there with his mouth hanging open. When I sat down each girl sat on a knee and put an arm around my neck.
Josh had no idea how to react. He just stared at us, his mouth working but no sound coming out. He was saved when Mrs. Bell came in and voiced the obvious question.
"Zoe, what are you girls playing at?"
"Well, Mom, you know I had Cas go on a date with Vicki last night. Well, things went great ... and terribly."
When Zoe paused her mom made a 'keep going' gesture.
"So, at the end of the date, Cas told Vicki that he couldn't kiss her because he was in love with me."
"Well, it's nice to see you two kids get together. Even your clueless mother could see the chemistry between you two. But that still doesn't explain Vicki at this moment."
"Well..." she stopped and looked at Josh.
"This next part is private. We all trust you, Josh, so you can stay. But never repeat what I am going to say unless all three of us tell you it is okay."
Josh finally managed the first words since I walked into the room, "I promise, Zoe. You know I like all three of you and wouldn't do anything to hurt you guys."
"Okay," she said turning back to her mom. "So I kind of convinced Cas that he should sort of hook up with Vicki to get some, education."
"Sort of hooked up?"
"Well, Cas agreed. That isn't exactly right. Cas argued with me about it. He didn't want to do it."
"Really? Cas turned down the free pass you two girls were giving him? Interesting."
"I probably should have listened to him, but I think I am fine with the way things ended up. You see, Cas eventually gave in and he and Vicki fooled around. When I met up with them afterwards, Cas was really upset. It seems he had developed some kind of feelings for Vicki, too. I never occurred to me that the caring and sensitive side of Cas that we all find so wonderful, would backfire on us like this. In hindsight, it's pretty obvious."
"The three of us talked about it. It was agreed that while Cas and I love each other we both really liked Vicki, and she really liked us, although she wasn't in love with us nor were we in love with her. So I suggested, and they agreed, that we would try a, ummm, three way relationship until Vicki eventually finds her one and only.
Josh's mouth flew open again, "No way."
Mrs. Bell was equally as stunned, but did not seem to find it as positive as Josh did. "Three way relationship? So you are going to date Cas and Vicki is going to date Cas?"
Zoe paused, looked at Vicki for a second before saying, "And I am going to date Vicki."
Mrs. Bell just stared at her daughter, "Really?"