You work in a place ten years; you see things coming a mile away.
“I’m history, “ I told the survey crew chief. “The job board is blank under my name, for all of next week.”
“But we have a great back log, and you work like a maniac. You have a family, and they’re all about family, remember?”
I shrugged. “You know these people pretty good. Do you trust them to look you in the eye and tell the truth?”
He laughed loudly. “You’re right,” he mumbled. “They eat their own.”
The next morning, I poked my head into the manager’s office and asked him how things were going. He looked like something in his stomach just imploded. “Come in,” he said. “Close the door.”
Oh boy. I’m thinking of my six-year-old daughter, and hold my temper. She’s a sensitive kid, and scary-smart for her age. I’ll sugar coat things, but it’s going to freak her out anyway. She watches the news and knows what unemployment means for people. She can spell Barack Obama’s name. The other night she asked me about Buddha, Jesus, and the number of the beast. She follows the Dow. Did I mention scary-smart?
So here it comes:
“Dan,” he starts. “It’s not about you.”
So it’s about me. Something I did or said, or maybe it was the snapping turtle. I bet it was the snapping turtle.
We had a long trip to upstate New York, and I had been up all night. My daughter was just a baby then, and very sick. I asked Mike if he could take the wheel, and he declined. I was kind of shocked, with Mike being a much younger guy — and new — but anger woke me up, and thoughts of revenge took seed.
One day a manager came in and said there was a monster snapping turtle crossing the parking lot, so opportunity knocked loud and clear.
I went out and lifted the hissing beast by its tail, then re-entered the office and crept up to Mike, who was now half-asleep at his desk.
I positioned the prehistoric head inches from his own, and asked, “Hey Michael?”
You could hear his scream in the next office building. It put Fay Wray’s King Kong wailing to shame, yet sounded more feminine. I never saw such a non-athlete move so quickly, leaping onto his chair as people ran from across the building.
He never learned the golden rule, often experienced in shopping malls and Toy’s R Us: Never mess with a tired parent. Ironically, now he has a baby of his own, and complains that she keeps him up all night.
Still, you don’t bring mad dinosaurs into the work place, so there I was, getting released:
“Work is getting very light, ” the manager said. “So they made a corporate decision.”
Ahhhh, he was booting the blame to their home office in Boston. Good move, since Boston never answers the phone.
People were pulling overtime, so it was definitely personal. Maybe it was the diet contest.
Contestants included Mike, an Uncle Fester clone who was a known pervert, a manager who once told me to “just work late and use our van to get your baby. She’s doesn’t need a damn car seat,” a survey crew chief who once smashed over twenty of his neighbor’s mailboxes with a bat, and of course – lest I forget! – a volatile ex-con who threatened everyone, because – to be honest — they deserved it.
So I looked at this motley competition, and won the six-week contest by dropping twenty-four pounds while they taunted and teased and even changed the rules. I countered by secretly wearing ankle weights to the weekly weigh-ins, before winning six-hundred dollars. They’re all sore losers, so maybe it was that.
“Just look over this severance package, and call if there’s any questions.”
Ah, the severance package, complete with pay-off money and a gag order (“non-disclosure”) agreement.
So maybe it was my little humor pieces describing work, which gives the best stories of all, and they didn’t like it. Maybe it was that.
So now it’s my turn. A great lawyer showed me the all-important loopholes in that “non-disclosure”, so it looks like another snapping turtle is waddling by outside, and I’ve got a very special assignment for him. This time, the snapping turtle has a lot to say.
Come in boys, and close the door. It’s personal, and it’s all about you.