THE YEAR is 1975. For a man of 50 leaving a factory gate at five in the afternoon, you look remarkably fresh. Your light, comfortable-looking summer suit is pressed and spotless, your face and hands are free of grime, and your features show no sign of the strain that men once associated with the heat and noise of a big factory. There is an extra spring in your step as you walk toward the heliport, perhaps because this is Thursday. Your four-day work week is over, and ahead of you are three full days to call your own.
Are you a pampered relative of the owner, or perhaps the owner himself? Not at all. You are an ordinary factory hand—in charge of “preventive tool maintenance” for your section. You have been with the Peerless Auto Parts Company for 25 years, one of the lucky ones who were trained by management for the great changeover to automation that occurred in the mid-’60s.