I worked a little late last night. In fact, I was the last one out of the building, which is rare because normally our CEO bears that burden. After making the rounds of the building, turning out lights and locking the required doors, I set the alarm system and stepped out into the warm evening light. Even at that late hour, the heat from the day persisted. I walked over to my company car, shouldering my laptop bag and carrying a water bottle in one hand and a Snickers bar from my desk drawer in the other. I fumbled with my key fob to unlock the doors of my car, and as I reached to open the driver’s door I noticed something was amiss; this was not my car. A flash of panic came over me; did I lock someone inside the building and set the alarm on them? I scanned the parking lot and confirmed there were no other cars, so this one had to be mine; but where did the boxes in the back seat come from?
I opened the driver’s door and suddenly realized that I had been victimized! The entire cab of the car was filled to the roof with odds and ends: empty phone system boxes, spare parts, tools, a hard hat, a couple pairs of boots, a safety vest, and cloth shopping bags strewn from one end to the other. Several grocery store microphones were intertwined around the steering wheel. There was even a 25lb kettle bell perched precariously on the dashboard. The only thing that was missing was a threatening letter: “Mess with me again and next time you won’t get off so lucky.” Well, I hadn’t “messed with anyone.” I had just been the victim of a practical joke, probably at the hands of one of TelWare’s many technicians, but which one . . . or ones?
As I began to empty the cab out, by tossing all the empty phone system boxes into the handicapped parking space beside my car, I realized that the rest of the stuff in the car had been pulled from my trunk. Sure enough, when I opened the trunk it was completely empty. Finally, I broke into a quiet chuckle. I must have left the doors open after I had returned from lunch; what a dummy.
I had my suspicions as to who could have pulled off the prank; several of the guys who had been in the office that day have a history of this kind of high jinks. When I thought back on it, a couple of guys had stopped by my office in quick succession before leaving for the day to ask when I would be leaving. Undoubtedly, they wanted to see my reaction when I discovered the foul deed. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long to have my suspicions confirmed. One of the boxes I removed from the car actually had a piece of blue painter’s tape on it with the name Jimmy Woods written in black Sharpie.
What kind of moron leaves an item with his name on it at the scene of the crime? It reminded me of a dumb crook news story I had once heard on the radio in which the perpetrator went into a bank, cashed a check made out to his name, and then proceeded to rob the bank. The police wasted no time showing up on the doorstep of his apartment to arrest him.
Now, Jimmy is no moron. In fact, he is one of our most knowledgeable service technicians who receives great reviews from our customers. It was just coincidence that the empty boxes which he and his accomplices took from our shipping warehouse had also been used on one of his recent phone system installations. At least I knew what I could do with all the empty boxes I had thrown into the parking lot. They all got piled onto Jimmy’s workstation in our Test Lab.
I have worked with Jimmy for fourteen years and know that when it is time to work he and our other techs always put forth their best effort, but every once in a while, it is nice to cut loose a little. Although it was a pain to clean up my car so I could go home, I appreciated the humor of the situation.
One of the great things about working at TelWare is the people who work here. Many of our employees have been with Telware over a decade, some over two decades. Some of them even knew each other as kids. It’s like an extended family; we’ve attended each other’s weddings and watched each other’s children grow up. The technicians, especially, get along like brothers. Out in the field they know exactly how to work together, anticipating what the other will do, and sometimes completing work without even speaking, just working as a single unit. When they’re back in the office, they razz and tease each other just like brothers do. That’s why it didn’t bother me that it was my turn to be harrassed—even when I discovered the melted Snickers bar in my pocket after I finished cleaning everything up.
Luckily for Jimmy and his partners in crime, I’m not the type to retaliate . . . or am I?
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