Reading the Classifieds
The editor-in-chief of the major metropolitan daily newspaper scowled at his own paper's classified sections laid out before him on the table. The night sounds of the big city were loud in the room, whose windows were wide open in an attempt to cool the place. Both men were so used to the noises that they did not really hear them.
"Well Chief," asked the reporter, "what do you make of it?"
The papers were open to the "Help Wanted" section. Three prominent advertisements had been circled in red ink. All three ads had been running in separate locations since June 4. The first ad was: "Do you want GOLD?" The second was: "Do you want to DOUBLE or TRIPLE your pay?" And the third was: "A year's pay IN ADVANCE!"
Though there were differences in the wording, all the ads solicited experienced welders, boilermakers, machinists, turbine technicians, ship fitters, etc. The editor kept moving his coffee mug out of the way as he went from section to section.
"I don't get it," answered the editor-in-chief, as he leaned back and blew a massive smoke ring into the humid air. "Yes, demand has probably gone up for most of those crafts, but nothing to justify these terms. Is there a bidding war going on that we don't know about? But why do we care? What's the catch? More important, what's the story?"
"Chief, the fact is that the demand has NOT gone up! Not that much, anyway. There are plenty of other ads for those same jobs and they don't offer anything like these do. Look at the interview locations. Compare the locations. That's what tumbled me to it."
"This one's down at the yards, I recognize the ... they're identical!" The editor stubbed out the unfinished cigar in the crowded ashtray.
The reporter nodded smugly.
The editor read them again, tapping the table with his hand.
"Well," the editor concluded, "someone wants these guys pretty damn bad. There's a story there!"
"Yep, that's what I thought, too!"
"Well?" He was already reaching into the humidor for another smoke.
"On my way, Chief!"