You have to be suspicious of the old and the dimwitted. Especially if they’re your coworkers. And you have to be careful.

The first job I had, after paperboy, I worked with this dimwitted deaf mute. He wasn’t completely deaf or mute, but enough to get out of doing the worst parts of the job.

“Noel, could you bring up a bucket of tomato sauce. Noel! Christ, will one of you assholes just get the damn sauce?”

And someone else would do it.

But whenever break time came or it was time to cut someone out, Noel’s hearing and ability to communicate dramatically improved.

One night one of us, maybe me, tested him.

“Noel, could you bring up a bucket of clams? Noel! You dumb worthless mutherfucker.”

“Wha? Wha you say? Fucka you too man! Fuck you!”

But it didn’t change anything. Maybe he was too stupid to realize the jig was up. Or was at least pretending to be.

One night, we finally got him to go down to collect a bucket of tomato sauce. He was down there for half an hour before someone went to check on him and found him crying, hiding underneath the prep table, five gallons of tomato sauce spilled all over him and most of the stairs and the floor.

But that’s another story for another time.

Every job it’s a different version of the same thing. At least one is old and dimwitted and frankly incompetent. Sometimes, seemingly willfully incompetent. People drop hints or talk about the problems he’s causing when he’s within earshot and nothing changes. And eventually, you just do that part of the job for him. And then another part. And one day you hear him blabbering nonsense about nothing while you’re trying to concentrate on doing his job and realize you’re getting played. You remember all those trips to the bathroom whenever a big job came in. He’d come back after 45 minutes and tell you no, he actually went to lunch, you must have misheard him. By this point you’re so overwhelmed you end up giving him the easiest part to handle and that still isn’t enough, he still has the balls to fuck that up, too.

 

A part of you wants to get him fired, but you can never be sure. Maybe he really is an idiot. So you feel a mixture of pity and envy and end up deciding hell, maybe you can get away with it too. So you deliberately fuck up a task and your boss just laughs at you.

 

“No no no. Not you, too. We get enough of that bullshit from Noel.”

 

That’s when you finally realize that everyone knows and you’re all helpless. Noel has got you all at his whimsy. He’s the one mutherfucker who actually enjoys coming in to work. All he does is laugh at you while he does nothing but bullshit. His constant bullshitting is so distracting it fucks you up sometimes, it fucks everyone up, and whenever someone has finally had enough and forces him to do something, anything, he fucks it up so spectacularly it’s chaos. The situation is so dire you don’t even have time to yell at him. And by the time it’s finally resolved, you’re just relieved it’s over.

 

The rational part of your mind tells you there must be something you can do, that there has to be a way out. But instinctively, you know you’ve been beaten. That the next time you want to yell at him and force him to do something, you’ll remember all of this and just sit down and shut up.

H. Seitz

H. Seitz

H. Seitz is the author of the Sci-fi novella "Iron Manimal" and a contributing writer at The Skull Island Times.
H. Seitz

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