The Art of Money Getting or, Golden Rules for Making Money was originally published in 1880 by P. T. Barnum.
Part 13 Be Systematic
Men should be systematic in their business. A person who does business by rule, having a time and place for everything, doing his work promptly, will accomplish twice as much and with half the trouble of him who does it carelessly and slipshod. By introducing system into all your transactions, doing one thing at a time, always meeting appointments with punctuality, you find leisure for pastime and recreation; whereas the man who only half does one thing, and then turns to something else, and half does that, will have his business at loose ends, and will never know when his day’s work is done, for it never will be done. Of course, there is a limit to all these rules. We must try to preserve the happy medium, for there is such a thing as being too systematic. There are men and women, for instance, who put away things so carefully that they can never find them again. It is too much like the “red tape” formality at Washington, and Mr. Dickens’ “Circumlocution Office,”–all theory and no result.
When the “Astor House” was first started in New York city, it was undoubtedly the best hotel in the country. The proprietors had learned a good deal in Europe regarding hotels, and the landlords were proud of the rigid system which pervaded every department of their great establishment. When twelve o’clock at night had arrived, and there were a number of guests around, one of the proprietors would say, “Touch that bell, John;” and in two minutes sixty servants, with a water-bucket in each hand, would present themselves in the hall. “This,” said the landlord, addressing his guests, “is our fire-bell; it will show you we are quite safe here; we do everything systematically.” This was before the Croton water was introduced into the city. But they sometimes carried their system too far. On one occasion, when the hotel was thronged with guests, one of the waiters was suddenly indisposed, and although there were fifty waiters in the hotel, the landlord thought he must have his full complement, or his “system” would be interfered with. Just before dinner-time, he rushed down stairs and said, “There must be another waiter, I am one waiter short, what can I do?” He happened to see “Boots,” the Irishman. “Pat,” said he, “wash your hands and face; take that white apron and come into the dining-room in five minutes.” Presently Pat appeared as required, and the proprietor said: “Now Pat, you must stand behind these two chairs, and wait on the gentlemen who will occupy them; did you ever act as a waiter?”
“I know all about it, sure, but I never did it.”
Like the Irish pilot, on one occasion when the captain, thinking he was considerably out of his course, asked, “Are you certain you understand what you are doing?”
Pat replied, “Sure and I knows every rock in the channel.”
That moment, “bang” thumped the vessel against a rock.
“Ah! be jabers, and that is one of ’em,” continued the pilot. But to return to the dining-room. “Pat,” said the landlord, “here we do everything systematically. You must first give the gentlemen each a plate of soup, and when they finish that, ask them what they will have next.”
Pat replied, “Ah! an’ I understand parfectly the vartues of shystem.”
Very soon in came the guests. The plates of soup were placed before them. One of Pat’s two gentlemen ate his soup; the other did not care for it. He said: “Waiter, take this plate away and bring me some fish.” Pat looked at the untasted plate of soup, and remembering the injunctions of the landlord in regard to “system,” replied:
“Not till ye have ate yer supe!”
Of course that was carrying “system” entirely too far.