This is the concluding section of Chapter 2. Sorry for the late posting. It was a busy day and I didn't have the chance to proof and post until late. The first section of Chapter 3 goes up on Thursday!
At 7:30 PM the electric bells rang throughout the Meyer Cycle Works, signalling the end of the day. The flowing order of the factory, each task repeating within its area as the bicycles gradually made their way to completion, shuddered to a stop. The sounds of machinery decreased and that of talking because audible in the new quiet, as workers finished their last task, stepped away from their stations, and began to move towards the workers’ room where they would gather their things and disperse into the streets.
Walter took a little longer than others that night. He took the frame he had been working on from the jig, set everything in its place, and wiped down his machinery and tools with a rag. All afternoon Herr Meyer’s offer, and his argument with his mother over it, had been playing through his mind.
When the foreman position was first offered to him, the future had gone through one of those sudden realignments of which the mind is capable. Prior to walking into the office, his expectations of the future had been some form of the present continuing on for a time and then, at some hazy point in the future, things getting better in some as yet indeterminate way. The offer had given the future distinct form and by the time he was walking down the metal stairs from the office to the factory floor a future of Walter As Foreman already stretched out with clarity before him. Consulting his mother seemed a right and proper thing to do, a deference to authority appropriate to someone now taking on authority himself, but he did not imagine that formality in any way impeding his progress.
He had now had five more hours of work during which to think about his mother’s opposition. He was no less sure of his intent to take the foreman job, but the argument had added an urgency to his desire. The promotion had shifted from being something that would happen to something that he was ready to fight for, and something he would feel a failure if he did not achieve. All afternoon, as he worked, he had formulated arguments -- sometimes actually voicing them in an undertone as he worked -- and as he stepped out of the factory doors and walked across the cobbled yard to the gates, his desire to discuss the promotion, to voice the arguments, to share his feelings, and to examine the situation from every angle, was overpowering.
It seemed strange that for the rest of the world it was an ordinary workday. Food sellers were crying their wares in the street. Three women workers were dashing for a streetcar, their bags of knitting encumbering them as they ran. Paul was on the sidewalk, leaning against the factory yard fence, his cap pulled down against the evening sun. He pushed off as Walter approached him.
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