The other day I turned the corner into the back alley behind our shop to see Big Al and The Crack taking a smoke break. Big Al had his back to me but the pipsqueak must have tipped him off - Al turned round, a panicked expression came over his face when he saw me bearing down on them - and he started to put out his cigar before going back into the shop.
I skidded into my parking spot, threw the truck into park and bailed out, determined to intercept him before he escaped. "Don't run away - I wanna talk to you...!" I said through grit teeth.
Big Al is our new manager. He was brought on board to replace the Incompetent Crack who was our former manager. (They should have fired The Crack - but there were extenuating circumstances. Why should lying, stealing and cheating be grounds for dismissal?) The Crack got demoted and I gotta be fair - Big Al has him on a very short leash. Al hung his head in despair, slumped in resignation, turned and said "What is it this time Glen?"
Al is a new manager I am trying to train and he's coming along and should do well - provided he doesn't kill me first. So I told him: I hear through the grapevine that Big Al was going to make some 'personnel changes'. Specifically, he was gonna get rid of our shipper and our receiver.
"Filthie - they're slow. I can probably get a young guy in here who's on the ball and he can do the shipping AND the receiving...".
"They're OLD, you dumb shit! But they show up and they do the bloody job! In case you haven't noticed - business is slow too! Why are you fucking with something that works?!?" I was a little hot under the collar. If a company is going to cheap out and try its best to slit its own throat - they invariably do it in the shipping/receiving dept. Shippers and receivers typically get paid in peanuts, get treated like crap - and then the management sits around and wonders why they don't know what is coming in or going out the door, and why they can't hire good people to do the job. II know this because I did that job for five years as a young man and still have bad dreams about it sometimes.
"I am not here to be liked, Filthie, I'm here to enhance a profit margin -" Al stammered.
"Right! So ya fire a couple of old folks because they're slow - and keep The Crack on because he's... he's... why is that again, Al? Is he still here because of his sphincter or his lips?" Al turned crimson - and The Crack turned white and trembled with rage. "Fuck off, you," I said to him - and The Crack stormed into the shop and slammed the door behind him! I was gonna be lucky if I had a job at the end of the day at the rate I was going. I fought to get my yap and my emotions under control. "Al," I said reasonably, "Please - let me start again..."
Over a year ago when The Crack was running our branch he hired the world's only nice Marxist for our shipping/receiving dept. As far as Chris went, he was probably one of The Crack's better hires. We had had sexually and mentally disturbed lesbians, crack heads, ex-cons and homeless beardos go through our shipping/receiving dept like travellers through the revolving door at the airport.
Chris, in short, was the world's biggest pooch screwer in the world. I swear - you and I would have to put 110% effort into it and we STILL wouldn't be able to goof off like Chris. He took about 100 smoke breaks a day. Outside he schmoozed with the delivery drivers sometimes for an hour or more. Inside, he would shut down to talk to whoever would listen. And talk. And talk. And talk. Of course The Crack couldn't fire him; because only deviants, degenerates, and desperate wretches would work for him. By those standards Chris was employee of the year material. The obvious solution was to hire someone else to help Chris.
I dunno how it happened. If you say there's no God I'll tell you there is - because I saw a miracle and I was there when it happened. Old Nelly started with us in the shipping and receiving dept. She was old. She had a bad back. She had bad feet. And most of our equipment is pretty damned heavy. By The Crack's standards - she was perfect! I just groaned when I first saw her and seriously considered blowing off my sales calls for the day and going to the bar. Problem was none of 'em were open at 8:00 in the morning.
But then the miracle happened. I got used to seeing Chris goofing off and thought nothing of it. A week later though - I noticed that stuff was getting done. What the hell was this? I just had to find out! Was The Crack doing their jobs for them???
The mystery was soon solved. A truck would pull up to unload, Chris would bolt for the door to go out and have a smoke - and Nelly would get up, on her bad feet, with her bad back - and start unloading trucks. I am not kidding when I tell you I have tools that weigh 70 lbs. I dashed in and helped and she told me to leave her to it but I could tell she appreciated the help. Afterward I went out and laid the mother of all guilt trips on Chris - and he blew it off without a second thought.
Every damn day. The shop folks used to have their coffee room on the main floor but the owners decided to move it up stairs. Without complaint Nelly walked up and down those stairs at coffee time. When the trucks came in she was the first there to unload them. Then she sorted out the shipments and organized them for dispersal. Every day. When The Crack and his hag squad abused her she took it like a rock. She probably hasn't had a raise in over a year.
Al blew out his cheeks and stared at his foot. "And that's why you can't lay off Nelly, Al. She's been working here, day in, day out when everyone with an IQ was quitting, and those without were getting fired," I said. "We've already lost a ton of people to our competitors. What happens when things speed up? Is a super-competent shipper receiver going to work on what you're paying? Will he put up with The Crack? What kind of message will you send to the employees when you lay her off?"
Al sat there, deep in thought before he finally roused himself. "Are you finished, Filthie? Can I go back to work now...?" Why - he didn't even wait for my permission - he just stalked back into the shop. Nelly was loading up a pallet full of tools and hard at it as he walked by. She paid him no mind - but he was watching her.
I sat there and fought down a nicotine fit. I haven't smoked in seven years, but I coulda lit one up and been off to the races right then. Smoking gives ya something to think about when the stuff you need to think about isn't worth the time of day. That is the addictive agent, not nicotine.
The best thing about my job is that it's like working at WKRP in Cincinnati. The worst thing about my job is that it's like working at WKRP in Cincinnati.
Turkeys CAN fly.