Smithers takes a much needed vacation and, to insure his position at the nuclear plant, he hires Homer as his temporary replacement for Mr. Burns. Homer teaches Burns self-reliance.
The episode starts off at the employee appreciation night that Mr. Burns is hosting at a drag racing track. When it is over Mr. Burns complains to Smithers that his foam novelty finger is too big. Smithers then leaves Mr. Burns alone in his limo. A drunken Lenny approaches the limo window and frightens Burns. Smithers returns with a smaller novelty foam finger and drives Lenny off.
Mr. Burns feels Smithers is working too hard and tells him to take a vacation. He agrees, but needs to find a replacement. He looks for the most pathetic worker to replace him, settling on Homer. He works as hard as he can, only to be ridiculed by Mr. Burns. Homer gets so mad at him, he socks him in the face, leaving Mr. Burns cowering in fear. In order to be safe and keep Homer away from him, Mr. Burns starts doing his own work, and he comes to enjoy it. When Smithers comes back, Mr. Burns fires him because he can do everything himself. Smithers and Homer try to get his job back, but it doesn't work. After their plan (having Mr. Burns's mother call her son to irritate him) failed (largely due to Homer's stupidity, such as disconnecting the phone before she could get a chance to call Mr. Burns, resulting in Homer calling Mr. Burns' office and faking being his mother, only for him to get her voice wrong and also say things Mr. Burns' mother would never say to him [specifically, referring to "her" son as "Mr. Burns"], resulting in them getting caught by Mr. Burns) Homer and Smithers get in a fight, including Smithers bashing Homer on the head over with a telephone receiver to "demonstrate [to Homer] how to use a phone." During their brawl, they accidentally knock Mr. Burns out the window. Having to go through physical therapy after being released from the hospital, Mr. Burns becomes once again dependent on Smithers for all his needs. Smithers repays Homer for getting him his job back with a basket full of fruit.
During the second scene with the Simpsons family having dinner around the table, Lisa appears to have meatballs on her plate when back in Lisa the Vegetarian, she had sworn off meat. On the other hand, they could be vegetarian meatballs.