Charles Kingston & the 2 Hour Job
August 1, 1922
August 1, 1922
Charles Kingston began working at the Union Pacific railroad in August of 1922. A few years into his employment, in 1926, a position opened up for an Acting Mechanical Foreman for the Idaho Falls location. The head man from the regional office came into Idaho Falls to help the boss, Mr. Rawley, pick the new man for this promotion. When the regional man asked Rawley who would be the best for this position, Rawley told him there were two men who could qualify. One was Charles and the other was a man named Homer Clark. Mr. Clark felt the job was his and told the regional man he was the qualified man for the job and he should have it.
During the interview, the four of them went out to the yard and started walking along the tracks. They came to a job that needed a part of the running gear replaced and put back together again. The regional man asked the two men if either of them knew how to do the job. Mr. Clark spoke right up and said, “Yes, I know all about that. I’ve done a lot of them.” When the regional man asked how long it would take to do that job, Mr. Clark examined the job to see how bad it was and what had to be done. He checked it all over very carefully and said, “Well, if you give me a good helper, I can do it in a day. If I have to do it alone, it will take me two days.”
The regional man turned to Charles and said, “You don’t seem to have much to say. Do you know how to do that job?”
Charles said, “Yes.”
The man asked, “How long would it take for you to do it?”
Charles said, “It would take me two hours.”
When he said that, Mr. Clark hollered, “There isn’t a man living that can do that in less time than I can. I say it’s a day’s job with a good helper.”
The regional man turned back to Charles and said, “You say you can do it in two hours? Ok, let’s see you do it.”
All four men got the required parts and tools then set their watches. When the regional man said time to go, Charles started the job while the other men stood and watched. Charles took it apart, cleaned it all up, put the new parts in and put it all back together. When it was completely finished, he said, “Ok, the job’s done.” The regional man looked at his watch. It took 1 hour and 59 minutes. It was just 1 minute less than 2 hours.
It’s not hard to guess who got the promotion. The regional man told Mr. Clark, “This is the kind of man I’m looking for.”
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