CHAPTER ONE - The Missing Supplies
“Uh, nope, now that don’t seem right,” Farnsworth muttered as he swept the floor of the supply room. “Looks like some things is missin’.” He took a closer look. “Yep, yep, uh yep,” he nodded his head in agreement with himself.
Farnsworth had first noticed that some of the food supplies seemed to be missing yesterday evening as he’d cleaned up the restaurant and the supply room for Mr. Fedderfeeny. At the time he thought that maybe he’d miscounted things but this morning his worst suspicions were confirmed.
“Hmm, what to do?” he asked himself. He let his head sink down to his chest and propped himself against the tall broom he was carrying. He continued to stand there for a while just thinking.
“Well, better check out back,” he eventually said out loud. Grabbing the broom firmly he set off for the small area that was mostly unused, tucked away in the far corner of the supply room. “Nope.” It was still empty.
Farnsworth didn’t like situations like this. In the nine years he had been working at the Food Factory he had only had to mention problems a couple of times to Mr. Fedderfeeny. The last time was about two years ago when The Mangler got stuck after they changed their flour suppliers and it threw lumps of meat and pastry all over the pie room. The mess was incredible. It seemed that everything in the room had somehow got coated with something. Even Farnsworth was covered head to waist with lumps of gooey meat sauce and pastry. His unfortunate mistake however was to walk into the restaurant that was full of customers, looking like someone that had come back from the dead. Several customers had screamed, one fainted and two of the waitresses had thrown trays of food everywhere in shock. Needless to say Mr. Fedderfeeny had suggested that in future emergencies, Farnsworth should consider his appearance first before entering the restaurant area.
Thankfully the restaurant wasn’t yet open for the day and so at least he didn’t have to consider his appearance. But, and this was really the worst thing, Mr. Fedderfeeny wasn’t here yet either. It would be at least an hour or two before he arrived.
“Well, just have to tell him later.”
In the meantime there were jobs that needed doing, the most important of which was making the day’s supply of pies. Farnsworth propped the broom up against the side wall and wandered off to the pie room.
The pie room was a sight to behold. It was only about twenty feet long and about fifteen feet wide but crammed into every piece of space were incredible contraptions that had individual and unique purposes. Farnsworth delighted over every machine in the room. Except The Mangler. The Mangler was dangerous and unforgiving. He always moved carefully around it and kept his operating time of it down to an absolute minimum. Still, thankfully The Mangler was the final machine in the pie-making process.
The first job of the day was to measure out the flour from the large tub in the corner and drop it into the pastry-making machine. He then added the salt, butter and eggs and closed the lid. Farnsworth pressed the large green ‘on’ button and stood back as mechanical hands started to do their work, mixing the ingredients together and dispensing water as necessary from the automatically controlled tap on the side of the machine. Within a few minutes Farnsworth relaxed as the machine made its ‘whoosh, slurp, bang, bang’ noise that he had come to know and love over the years. He smiled to himself.
Next it was on to the meat stripper and cutter. Farnsworth stepped into the cold storage room and pulled out some big cuts of meat that would make up today’s pies. He closed the door to the cold room and shuffled over to the huge meat chopper laden down with meat. One piece at a time he filled the machine and compacted it all as best he could. At last it was full to capacity and he set the machine in motion, standing well back as sharp blades began their relentless and unforgiving work.
Finally there was only the sauce to consider. This was the smallest and simplest of the machines even though it took the most time to do its job. Farnsworth reminded himself that one day he wanted to make some improvements to it. He was sure that with a few modifications the sauce-cooker could make the sauce in half the time that it currently took. Still, for now it had to be done the old-fashioned way. Farnsworth measured out the scoops of sauce ingredients from the individual spice containers and counted them into the open funnel that was located on top of the sauce-cooker. “Thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three,” he absentmindedly said out loud as he always did at the end of his counting. He closed the lid to the funnel, turned the machine on and waited a few minutes until the confirming ‘swoosh’ of the hot water could be heard.
Step one of his jobs had been completed. In an hour or so he could return and gather up all the completed parts and fire up The Mangler which would actually put all the pies together.
Farnsworth returned to the supply room determined to find out exactly what was missing so he could report it all to Mr. Fedderfeeny. He was pretty sure it was some of the vegetables but, just in case, he got out the large ledger he kept of all the supplies purchased and used. Every day he had to keep this updated so Mr. Fedderfeeny knew exactly what was being consumed. Walking up and down the rows of supplies Farnsworth made a mental count of everything and compared it to the totals written on the ledger. Eventually he found the discrepancies. He was short on three of the vegetables. Carrots, peas and cabbage.
“Yep, yep. That’s it. That’s what’s missin’.” He counted the vegetables with some deliberation and finally concluded there were about five bunches of carrots, a bag of peas and four cabbages missing. “Hmm,” he continued. “Not a lot. Numbers’ll be messed up tho’. Mr. Fedderfeeny doesn’t like it when his numbers are messed up.”
In all the time that Farnsworth had been working for Fergus Fedderfeeny he had only ever seen him angry a couple of times. That is, apart from the time Farnsworth got covered in meat sauce and pastry. Both those times were when there had been a problem with the numbers. Last time it was all about five bags of peas that had been miscounted and placed in the wrong area of the supply room. Mr. Fedderfeeny had been in a really bad mood on that day. Everything was about the numbers to Mr. Fedderfeeny. He was a very likeable and respected boss but you never wanted him to get upset over the numbers. They were a big part of Mr. Fedderfeeny’s life. Farnsworth never did the numbers; he let Mr. Fedderfeeny do them. But he knew this time the numbers weren’t going to be right.
“Gonna be a tough day today. Hope he’s in a good mood when he gets here.” Farnsworth’s train of thought was cut short by the sound of a loud buzzer. “Whoa, fixin’s are ready for the pies.”
Back in the pie room all the machines had done their jobs. Pastry was neatly stacked up by the pastry-maker, meat was cut into small pieces by the meat-chopper, and sauce was gently steaming next to the sauce-cooker. Farnsworth went over to the shelves next to The Mangler and reached up for the pie dishes. He carefully heaped them in the side of The Mangler and then emptied the chopped meat into the big bucket inside the front of the machine. The sheets of pastry were stacked carefully into the feeder at the front of The Mangler and lastly the sauce was poured into a funnel at the very top of the machine. Farnsworth carefully checked and rechecked to make sure every door and lid was closed and walked completely around the machine one more time to make absolutely sure. When he was confident everything was ready he reached out a hand and pulled the lever that kicked everything into motion. There was a large creaking sound and then a short period of silence before all of a sudden everything seemed to happen and The Mangler nearly wrenched itself off its base. Farnsworth stepped back as he did every day, wary of the power and ferocity of this machine.
All at once everything started moving and Farnsworth was deafened by the noise of clanking dishes, cutting blades, scooped up meat, dripping sauce and pressed pastry. Slowly the pies started appearing on the conveyor belt at the far end of The Mangler and Farnsworth moved to collect them and stack them neatly on shelves ready-made for the pies. As the last of the pies made its way along the conveyor belt Farnsworth breathed a sigh of relief and wiped some sweat from his brow. “I hope that’s the worst of it over. Nothin’ to do now but wait,” he said to himself. “Fer the boss!”
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