Willie, a janitor at Acme Carpet Sweepers Company, is taking a night course in practical psychology. He believes the boss at Acme, John E. Stevens, runs the company like a machine, and not in a good way as his employees act like robots without any emotional attachment to their work or each other. An example is the relationship between clerks Charlie Hall and Mary Jones, who have worked side-by-side in an office all their own for four years, and over that time have never each looked at the other as another human being. Based on what he has learned in class thus far, Willie believes that Stevens should stimulate the repressed human impulses of Charlie and Mary, which could lead to a more humanistic working relationship and perhaps even love. Without telling Stevens, Willie goes about bringing those emotions out in Charlie and Mary, with both him and Stevens having to deal with the aftermath.