Flash Fiction #130

Microsoft

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

GRAVY TRAIN

He was here, finally! He’d worked long and hard – too long, but he was finally in Seattle, surrounded by the two things that made his life worthwhile – great coffee, and computers.

It had taken a while for Microsoft recruiters to notice him, but they had, at last, offered him employment. He would almost have worked for nothing, but the pay was great….and the perks, pun intended!

Where else would the morning commute to work include a dedicated subway Breakfast Car serving bacon, eggs, and Starbucks Coffee? Take that, you nap room Googlers!   😛

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

I’m Working On It

office-worker

A young woman had been pounding the pavement in search of a job with no luck. Frustrated, she asked her Dad to look at her résumé.  He didn’t get much farther than the first line of her cover letter before spotting the problem.
“Is it too generic?” she asked.
“I doubt it.” said her father.  “Especially since it’s addressed ‘Dear Sir or Madman.”

***

My friend’s hour-and-a-half commute to work got old quickly – the time spent stuck in traffic was sending him over the edge. So I was happy for him when he found a new job closer to home. “That’s great,” I said.  “What are you doing now?”
“I’m a bus driver.”

***

A secretary liked to yammer on the phone to her friends. One day her boss was going to interrupt her chat to tell her to get back to work, when she looked up at the clock and put an end to the conversation.  “Sorry, I have to hang up now.  It’s time for my break.”

***

Applicants at a company were asked to fill out a questionnaire. Among the things that candidates had to list was their high school, and when they attended.  One prospective employee dutifully wrote the name of his school, followed by the dates attended – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

***

A worker at a new company was annoyed that the company’s automated telephone directory had seriously mangled her last name. She called the person in charge and asked that he fix it. “Sorry,” he said, “All requests must be made by email.”
“Okay,” she said, “just tell me how to email the correct pronunciation of Zuckschwerdt.”

***

Winding his way through the office cubicles, the young boss spotted one of his employees playing a video game on the computer. “Why aren’t you working?” he asked.
The employee had an excellent excuse.  “I didn’t see you coming.”

***

“Good morning.” I said to a co-worker in the parking lot. He mumbled something back, and continued toward the door, obviously distracted.  As we walked, I got close enough to hear what he was muttering to himself.
“It pays the bills. It pays the bill.  It pays the bills.  It pays the bills….”

***

One office manager was a tyrant when it came to keeping the printer area clean. A co-worker printed something, but when he went to pick up the document, it was gone. “You know I throw out anything more than 24 hours old.” the manager told him. “But I just printed it.” my friend insisted.
“Sorry,” she said, “But I’m not in tomorrow.”

***

A business-writing instructor read lots of résumés. Inevitably, he ran across some students with skills no employer could pass up, such as; The young paramedic who makes ‘life-threatening decisions’ every day. A child-care worker who can ‘overlook up to 35 children at one time.’ An entertaining young woman who is ‘flexible enough to perform all manner of positions if the situation gets desperate.’

 

Get Up….And Go

vauxhall

For a couple of years during our teens, my brother worked pumping gas on the weekends for the snake-oil salesman who owned a local garage. I stopped in one summer Sunday to shoot the shit, and noticed a pile of tires with bright yellow chalk markings of NFG on the sidewalls.  In all my small-town naïve innocence, I asked, “What does NFG mean?” “Haw, haw, haw!!  Oh, you know what NFG means!”

Even these years later, the arrogant stupidity of that non-answer still irritates me. If I ‘knew’ what NFG meant, I wouldn’t have asked what NFG meant.  A couple of years later, when I got out in the cruel, cruel (and often foul-mouthed) world, I found that it meant No Fucking Good.  Why didn’t he just say so?

One day he accosted me. “Whaddya doin’ next Saturday?” “Why?” “Wanna make 25 bucks?” That was the equivalent of a half a day’s wages.  Rather suspiciously, “Doing what?”

A couple of times a year, he would go to a used-car auction outside Toronto, bring home some lemons vehicles, fix them (almost) up, and sell them at a profit.  Oh, he wants another driver.  It’s reasonably safe, and almost legal.  I could use a little extra spending money.  Sure, why not!?

Five of us met at the garage at O-dark-600. He piled us all into a big old Mercury sedan.  He drove, with two guys in the front with him.  Remember those big old boats, where three could ride in comfort on the front bench seat?  Not ‘safely’ though, ‘cause they didn’t have seatbelts.

Two other gullible suckers and I rode in the back. Off we set for a 100 mile, 2-hour drive.  The car auction began at 9:00 AM and we arrived with time to spare.  Mr. Snake-Oil went inside, but, since we weren’t registered buyers, we had to remain outside.

We wandered around, bored, talking to each other and other teens who’d come with other dealers, searching for washrooms and maybe something to eat or drink. At noon, he came out, all smiles.  He’d bought five cars – one for each of us.

We made sure that they all started and ran, and had enough gas for the trip home, and formed up our little convoy. Since I’d previously owned a Morris, and currently owned an Austin, I was assigned a four-cylinder Vauxhall sedan, similar to the station-wagon my Father had recently owned, while the rest got 6- and 8-cylinder Fords and Chevies.

With the chief turkey buzzard leading the parade, we headed for home. I was in third position.  When we reached the 60MPH speed limit of the highway, we quickly sped up to 65/70….all except me.  It seemed that, no matter what I did (not much), the best I could do was 50/55.  Number 4 soon passed me.

A mile down the road, “the best I could do” suddenly dropped to 30/35.  Number five pulled out and passed, and Tail-End Charlie was breathing down my tailpipe.  Then, the wee beast speeded up again, if you can call 50 MPH, speed.

Another mile, and it faltered again. Soon I was number 6.  In a day before cell-phones for emergencies, I wondered what would happen if this thing died all together, as the last of them disappeared over a hill, a half a mile ahead.  I thought about just pulling it off to the side, and hitch-hiking back.

After a hundred miles of this, I finally nursed it home. As I pulled in, he yelled, “Where the Hell have you been?  Did you get lost?  The rest of us have been back for hours.”  25 – 30 minutes, maybe, but, gee thanks for keeping an eye out and worrying about me Boss.  “What the Hell kept you?”

I explained that I just couldn’t get any top-end speed, and that it would die off every once in a while. I said, “It feels like I was driving on three cylinders half the time, and the other half, only on two.” “Oh, you just don’t know how to drive!”  I took my $25 undeclared cash earnings and left. ‘See if I ever do that for you again.’

About a week later, I pulled in to gas up my Austin, and he swaggered over and stuck his head in my window. “Remember that Vauxhall you drove for me?”  I’d been trying to put it out of my mind, but, “Yeah?” “Know what I found?” A llama in the trunk?  Bubble-gum in the ashtray?  A complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica?  “What?”

“When I was working on it, I found that one of the spark plugs was welded closed, and one of the ignition wires from the distributor was loose. If it got bumped, there was no power going to that plug.  It was like it was running on three cylinders half the time, and only on two, the other half.”

Do I get a free tank of gas for diagnosing the problem for you? Of course not!  Not even a thank you or an admission that I was right, much less an apology.  What an arrogant, self-centered asshole.  When I went back to school after moving here to Kitchener, I met his then-divorced wife.  She couldn’t stand him either.  Later, his brother was elected President of the United States.

A To Z Challenge – R

april-challenge

U R here.  U R lost, but U R here.  U R outstanding in your field, and that’s where you should be – out standing in a field.  In case you hadn’t guessed, in this post, I’m gonna talk about Pirates – aRRRgh….no I’m not, just about the letter

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REMEMBRANCE, REFLECTION, REMINISCING

During my work career, there were several times when I was not employed. Because of my learning disabilities and restricted education, when I was employed, it often could not be charitably described as ‘gainfully.’

With careful financial planning and saving however, we have been able to see and do some interesting and enjoyable things. Did you know that you can spend an entire week at a Red Roof Inn, or Microtel mini-suite for the cost of one day at a posh hotel, if you don’t need to be fawned over?

We can’t afford to fly, and rent a car when we arrive. All trips have been by car, including three Le Mans trips to Florida with my brother.  2400 kilometers (1500 miles) in 24 hours.  I have swum in, and enjoyed the magnificence of the Atlantic Ocean, and the beauty of the beaches, at Clearwater Florida, just after a storm, down at the tip, at Key West, on a warm, sunny day, Daytona Beach, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach, S.C., where I found some singing sand.

When the wife and I were stronger and more mobile, we walked much of historically preserved Old Charleston, and visited Fort Sumter, seeing frolicking dolphins and fishing pelicans. We have driven the Great Smoky Mountains, the Appalachians, and the Shenandoahs, where we took a hundred-mile trip along the Top Of The World on the Skyline Drive, seeing Stony Man Mountain.

We’ve gone down into the Skyline Caverns, and later, the Luray Caverns.  We stopped to tour the awesome Lewis Ginter Gardens.  We even trekked into the Middle Of Nowhere, Ohio, to find the only slightly lost John Erickson, and we did it all on a shoestring budget.

Of course we took photos, at first, the old, printed type. Later we used a digital camera, and ignored the pix on the computer.  Lately, as both the bodies and the wallet grow weaker, we have the memories of better days to keep us warm and happy, with our REMEMBRANCE, REFLECTION, REMINISCING.   😀

Dangerous Addiction

philosopher

It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.

I began to think alone – “to relax,” I told myself – but I knew it wasn’t true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don’t mix, but I couldn’t stop myself.

I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka.

I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, “What is it exactly we are doing here?”

Things weren’t going so great at home either. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She just glared at me and then stalked out and spent that night at her mother’s.

I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day the boss called me in. He said, “Archon, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don’t stop thinking here at work, you’ll have to find another job.” This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss. “Honey,” I confessed, “I’ve been thinking…”

“I know you’ve been thinking,” she said, “and I want a divorce!”

“But Honey, surely it’s not that serious.”

“It is serious,” she said, lower lip aquiver. “You think as much as college professors, and college professors don’t make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won’t have any money!”

“That’s a faulty syllogism,” I said impatiently, and she began to cry.

I’d had enough. “I’m going to the library!” I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche. I roared into the parking lot with NPR on the radio and ran up to the big glass doors…. they didn’t open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night.

As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. “Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?” it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker’s Anonymous poster.

Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was “Porky’s.” Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.

I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed… easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.

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To that I say, “What the hell, one little thought can’t hurt you.” Careful brother, one little thought can lead to another.

 

Getting The Cold Shoulder

ice

Once upon a long time ago, I overcame my failure to launch, got a job, and moved to a city a hundred miles from home. During the middle of February, a nasty cold snap moved in.  One Friday night, my friend and I went to an early movie.  The place was not crowded.

Afterwards, we went up the street to our favorite restaurant. Besides the proprietor, there were only four of us on that chilly night, the friend and I, and two young ladies.  At least that’s what they told us they were, when we went over to introduce ourselves.

After about an hour, they asked if we would walk them home. ‘Why shor!’ As we left the restaurant, I glanced at the big Coca-Cola thermometer, hanging on the outside wall.  It read -18° F, about -28 of these newfangled Metricated degrees.  The walk home involved only that, not even any hand-holding, although it’s hard to hold hands with snowmobile gloves on.  Snowmobiles might have been invented by then, but snowmobile gloves sure hadn’t.

After leaving the girls, we headed back to the restaurant to warm up again before going on home. I looked at the thermometer again as we stepped in.  It had fallen to -23° F, or -30° C, in the hour we’d been gone.  As we sat cuddling our hot chocolates, my pal said, “Do you know your ears are white?”  Like the joker I am, I said, “No, but if you’ll hum a few bars, I’ll try to sing along.”

“No, no! Your ears look frozen!”  I reached up and found something that felt like Michelangelo had carved from marble.  I wrapped my hands around the mug, and transferred warmth to my ears.  I couldn’t feel a thing.  Within 15 minutes I could feel them again, and was sorry I could.  They stung for hours.

The next day I went to a Men’s Wear store, explained what had happened, and asked if they had a solution. The salesman provided a bright-white as-the-snow, 100% wool, skiers’ ear band, which I wore faithfully.  I later found that, while I had not lost the ears to frostbite, the tiny blood vessels had been damaged.  Now if a cool September breeze stirs the leaves on the Maples, the ears don’t like it.

I left the job, moved back home for a summer, moved out again, went back to school for retraining, got a girlfriend, got a fiancé, got married, and wore that headband every winter. My WIFE looked at the now grey-brown abomination on my head, and said, “That thing’s gotta be washed!”

Most of the wife’s family is allergic to wool. Thank the Catholic God and Monsanto for Nylon, Rayon, Orlon, Banlon, Dacron, and Polyester.  She washed it in nice hot water, and dried it in a nice hot dryer, and I got back a nice, paper-white wrist band.  Oops!

We easily replaced it at K-Mart, before they went extinct, but she always felt badly about destroying the original. Some years later, when her knitting skills had improved to the point that she was arguing with knitting patterns and TV knitting show hostesses, she asked if I would like her to custom-design and make me a replacement, this time in a washable wool/polyester blend.  See above, “Why shor!”

head-band

She started with a tube, a basic sock. Then she steadily increased stitches on one side, while adding a simple pattern.  After achieving a desired length, she stopped the pattern, and reduced stitches till both ends were equal.  Now she carefully sewed the ends together, and I have a double-thickness ear protector.  The protruding edge goes down the nape of the neck, to fend off cold breezes and falling snow.

After letting me be the guinea pig, the son decided that he’d like one also. A neighbor kid, watching me shovel snow with it on one day, asked how I got my hair to grow up through my hat.

I once sliced into an old tennis ball, and pushed it down over the ball of my trailer hitch, to protect it from rusting. This was the same kid who asked me how I got the ball to balance there.  I think he’s got all the way up to manager at his McDonalds location.   😯

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRAINRANTS!

Birthday Cake

I sent BrainRants a birthday present!

From comments on previous years’ posts, I knew that BrainRants’ birthday was some time late in January. Using stalker senses honed by sticking my nose into Cordelia’s Mom’s business, I found a link to the employment consultant who was aiding him in obtaining suitable civilian employment.

She’s a lovely lady. Wanting to surprise Rants, I sent her a package, along with a note, asking if she could discreetly forward it to Mrs. BrainRants.  No black helicopters came winging north over the border, only an email saying, “Can do, and did!”

Rants’ new bride doesn’t know me from Santa Claus.  Inside the shipping envelope I included another note, asking if she could hand him the final package on the fateful day.  She obviously knows of his blogging, and coterie of blog-friends.

Perhaps the arrival of strange bundles, delivered in odd ways, isn’t all that unusual. All I know is that the FBI didn’t ask the RCMP to stop around and ask some pointed questions.

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During my ongoing housecleaning, I realised that I possessed two commemorative medallions, one bronze, the other aluminum, honoring astronauts, and the Apollo 11 and 12, 1960s Moon Missions. Knowing of Rants’ interest in science, NASA and the moon, I wondered if he might have any interest in them.

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I included a shield-shaped Canada shoulder patch which I picked up the day I went to photograph the tank and Spitfire.  I doubt that he has uniforms anymore.  The army made him turn all his stuff in.  He would only wear one for a special occasion, and the Maple Leaf patch would not be allowed because it is non-regulation.

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No cost was spared when I packaged his coins in the Costco box I received my membership-renewal Christmas gift card in.

While not ‘strange’, my plan was unexpected and unannounced. Mrs. Rants was apparently willing to go along with it.  She sneaked out an email to confirm that she had received his gift, and presented it to him.  I received another, from him, thanking me for my little piece of thoughtfulness.

This sending of physical packages and actual printed letters seems almost outdated in today’s electronic society. I couldn’t use a drone, because the DC area is a no-fly zone.  Somebody, perhaps Rants himself, would have shot it down.

If you haven’t already, drop in to his site, wish him a Happy Belated Birthday, and really make him feel old. I had hoped that another gift might be the ability to announce that he has secured gainful and productive employment.  We waited – but none of us as hard as him, and now everyone’s wish has been granted.  He scored a job – cube-drone trainee, working under Dilbert.  Still got the training wheels on. Good Luck, Rants, and thanx.  😎

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The presents, as they sit proudly in Rants’ house, at an undisclosed location in the Eastern USA.   😆