Edna Ferber: Fanny Herself


"Mr. Fenger will see you now." Mr. Fenger, general manager, had been a long time about it. This heel-cooling experience was new to Fanny Brandeis. It had always been her privilege to keep others waiting. Still, she felt no resentment as she sat in Michael Fenger's outer office. For as she sat there, waiting, she was getting a distinct impression of this unseen man whose voice she could just hear as he talked over the telephone in his inner office. It was characteristic of Michael Fenger that his personality reached out and touched you before you came into actual contact with the man. Fanny had heard of him long before she came to Haynes-Cooper. He was the genie of that glittering lamp. All through the gigantic plant (she had already met department heads, buyers, merchandise managers) one heard his name, and felt the impress of his mind:

"You'll have to see Mr. Fenger about that."

"Yes,"--pointing to a new conveyor, perhaps,--"that has just been installed. It's a great help to us. Doubles our shipping-room efficiency. We used to use baskets, pulled by a rope. It's Mr. Fenger's idea."

Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. Fenger had made it a slogan in the Haynes-Cooper plant long before the German nation forced it into our everyday vocabulary. Michael Fenger was System. He could take a muddle of orders, a jungle of unfilled contracts, a horde of incompetent workers, and of them make a smooth-running and effective unit. Untangling snarls was his pastime. Esprit de corps was his shibboleth. Order and management his idols. And his war-cry was "Results!"

It was eleven o'clock when Fanny came into his outer office. The very atmosphere was vibrant with his personality. There hung about the place an air of repressed expectancy. The room was electrically charged with the high-voltage of the man in the inner office. His secretary was a spare, middle-aged, anxious-looking woman in snuff-brown and spectacles; his stenographer a blond young man, also spectacled and anxious; his office boy a stern youth in knickers, who bore no relation to the slangy, gum-chewing, redheaded office boy of the comic sections.

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