The Slot was an iron crack that ran along the centre of Market Street, and from the Slot arose the burr of the ceaseless, endless cable that was hitched at will to the cars it dragged up and down.
The Slot was an iron crack that ran along the center of Market street, and from the Slot arose the burr of the ceaseless, endless cable that was hitched at will to the cars it dragged up and down. In truth, there were two slots, but in the quick grammar of the West time was saved by calling them, and much more that they stood for, "The Slot.
South of the Slot were the factories, slums, laundries, machine-shops, boiler works, and the abodes of the working class. The Slot was the metaphor that expressed the class cleavage of Society, and no man crossed this metaphor, back and forth, more successfully than Freddie Drummond.
He made a practice of living in both worlds, and in both worlds he lived signally South on the slot. Freddie Drummond was a professor in the Sociology Department of the University of California, and it was as a professor of sociology that he first crossed over the Slot, lived for six months in the great labor-ghetto, and wrote "The Unskilled Laborer" -- a book that was hailed everywhere as an able contribution to the literature of progress, and as a splendid reply to the literature of discontent.
Politically and economically it was nothing if not orthodox. Presidents of great railway systems bought whole editions of it to give to their employees. In a way, it was almost as immoral as the far-famed and notorious "Message to Garcia," while in its pernicious preachment of thrift and content it ran "Mrs.
Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch" a close second. At first, Freddie Drummond found it monstrously difficult to get along among the working people. He was not used to their ways, and they certainly were not used to his. He had no antecedents. He could talk of no previous jobs. His hands were soft. His extraordinary politeness was ominous.
At the beginning they accepted him, very provisionally, as a freak. He learned many things, and generalized much and often erroneously, all of which can be found in the pages of "The Unskilled Laborer.
A box factory supplied the parts, and all Freddie Drummond had to do was to fit the parts into a form and drive in the wire nails with a light hammer. It was not skilled labor, but it was piece-work. The ordinary laborers in the cannery got a dollar and a half per day.
Freddie Drummond found the other men on the same job with him jogging along and earning a dollar and seventy-five cents a day. By the third day he was able to earn the same. But he was ambitious.
He did not care to jog along and, being unusually able and fit, on the fourth day earned two dollars. The next day, having keyed himself up to an exhausting high-tension, he earned two dollars and a half.
His fellow workers favored him with scowls and black looks, and made remarks, slangily witty and which he did not understand, about sucking up to the boss and pace-making and holding her down when the rains set in.
And that night, coming out of the cannery, he was interviewed by his fellow workmen, who were very angry and incoherently slangy. He failed to comprehend the motive behind their action. The action itself was strenuous. When he refused to ease down his pace and bleated about freedom of contract, independent Americanism, and the dignity of toil, they proceeded to spoil his pace-making ability.
It was a fierce battle, for Drummond was a large man and an athlete, but the crowd finally jumped on his ribs, walked on his face, and stamped on his fingers, so that it was only after lying in bed for a week that he was able to get up and look for another job.
All of which is duly narrated in that first book of his, in the chapter entitled "The Tyranny of Labor. It was palpable malingering; but he was there, he decided, not to change conditions, but to observe. So he lumped one box thereafter, and so well did he study the art of shirking that he wrote a special chapter on it, with the last several paragraphs devoted to tentative generalizations.
In those six months he worked at many jobs and developed into a very good imitation of a genuine worker. This language also enabled him more intimately to follow their mental processes, and thereby to gather much data for a projected chapter in some future book which he planned to entitle "Synthesis of Working-Class Psychology.
He was himself astonished at his own fluidity. Once having mastered the language and conquered numerous fastidious qualms, he found that he could flow into any nook of working-class life and fit it so snugly as to feel comfortably at home.THE STRENGTH OF THE STRONG SOUTH OF THE SLOT (First published in The Saturday Evening Post, Vol.
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The slot is a metaphor of the “class cleavage of society”. There was a contrast between the North and South of the Slot in terms of building types: in the North were the higher-class centers of diversion, lodging, and business; and in the South were the lower-class centers of lodging, unskilled work/business.
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