Would You Be Missed?

In the 1970’s, the famous Vienna Sausage plant here in Chicago, moved from the Southside to the Northside. The old plant was inefficient, out of date, and a new factory was desperately needed.

The new plant opened, inefficiencies were eliminated, and production began. But for some reason, the hot dogs didn’t taste right nor had their signature pink hue. They tested the water, the new elevation, and the air differential. For a year and half they tried everything. It wasn’t until they were reminiscing about one of the old plant workers that the secret was discovered.

When it was decided that the new plant would be moved to the Northside, longtime employee, Irving, didn’t want to leave his Southside roots. He liked being able to walk to work and so when the plant left, he stayed. 

His job? 

Pushing the hotdogs in a cart on a thirty minute trip through the labyrinth-like (and wholly inefficient) factory to the curing room. As the hot dogs made their way, they cooled in the open air, which happened to be the exact amount of time needed to create their trademark pink color and give them their unique taste. 

This remarkable little journey was the secret. 

When they built the new factory, since Irving didn’t go, his position didn’t either and was replaced by a machine which moved the finished sausages immediately to the curing room. 

Once the secret was unearthed the foreman broke ground on a new room dubbed, “Irving’s Room,” which mimicked the hot dogs formerly winding excursion through the factory. 

A machine had to be created because of something a human had done - something that no one else could do.

This lovely little story, leaves me with two thoughts:

1. Is there something that only you can do? Something that would be missed if you were to leave? If not, what could it be?

2. There is nothing that can replace good, old-fashioned work. You can have all the fancy tools and apps, conveyor belts, bells and whistles, but if you aren’t willing to literally push the cart around the factory every now and then, the chances of making something truly exceptional are extremely rare.

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