short stories ~ literary fiction ~ social commentary
copyright © 1999 - 2013
I'm considering writing a series of short stories, maybe a novel, a dark farce about life working in American retail. Right now, I call it: Working With Godot, because of the absurdity of human interactions, people creating problems that don't exist and people playing out little dramas as if they're TV characters.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. A place, people and an event like this could not possibly take place in objective reality.
To follow is a conversation between two men. The language could be offensive to some readers.
Working With Godot
“Can you give me a couple minutes for a quick question?”
Barry looked around, nodding. “Sure, let's step outside.”
Hermes followed Barry through the door to the loading dock, Hermes waiting while Barry fished a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, lighting one.
“I've been hearing shit roll down from the night shift that you want to dump me.”
“Yeah, fire me. Is that true?”
Barry paused, looking at his cigarette, the truck backing in, then back to Hermes. The pause did not instill Hermes with optimism.
“The job and you don't seem to be a perfect fit.”
Hermes took a breath, reminding himself not to get defensive. Though Barry was almost half Hermes' age, Barry was still his immediate supervisor.
Hermes narrowed his eyes. “Okay. What specific observations and criticism do you have of my work? What aren't you happy with, how can I improve?”
“Your work is fine, above average. You know your job, do the job well. You respect management. It just seems you and the job are not a perfect fit.”
“I don't know what you mean. If you mean putting stock on shelves in a supermarket isn't the career I dreamed of when I was seven years old, you're right. I've not obsessed on it, but really, I don't plan on dying in an aisle, sure.”
“That's what I mean --”
“But, Barry, that doesn't for a second affect the job I do. I give one-hundred and ten percent everyday. I like my job. I like the work I do.”
“I know you do.”
“Then, what's the problem?”
Barry took a moment to thoughtfully light another cigarette.
“Some people on night shift have an attitude toward you, which is affecting the work they do.”
Hermes shrugged. “And?”
“I was thinking if you and the job aren't a perfect fit --”
“I mean, what do you think you can do about it?”
“Do about what?”
“Some people on the night shift have an attitude toward you, which is affecting the work they do.”
“What can I do about the attitude people I don't know, don't work with have toward me?”
Hermes blinked twice, thinking: that's the craziest fucking thing I ever heard! “Nothing, Barry. People are going to think what they think, cop the attitude the cop, all without my help or hindrance. Frankly, what other people think about me is none of my business. I've come to learn given half a chance, most people will be self-serving assholes, blaming everyone and anyone for their own shortcomings. I simply lower expectations, that way people don't piss me off.”
“I don't believe that about people --”
“I felt like you do when I was your age. Look, people never accept responsibility. When the office goes to night shift and says: 'Gee, you guys can do better,' night shift is going to look for a scapegoat, anything to blame anyone or anything else for their poor performance. I'd not be surprised if they whined they couldn't do their jobs because they're all depressed over Tipper separating with Al.” Hermes shrugged again.
Barry nodded. “I really need to solve this problem with night shift. Have you considered changing jobs?”
Not until now.
Barry lit another cigarette.