Sunday, June 24, 2012

The tale of Fast Eddie

He never smiled.
Well, he would show his teeth, but it was slightly awkward when he did. Like a Mockingbird whistling the refrain to "purple rain" or a parrot saying the first lines of "Mein Kampf", it was just off. We called him Fast Eddie because he wasn't.
Not even a little teeny tiny bit.
A long time ago when I was working for my Dad painting some condos, we had to invent a new speed. We had this older guy working for us that moved at a speed somewhere between super slow motion and dead. We called it "KENtSPEED" and forever in my mind that is what it will be.
Fast Eddie moved just slightly faster then KENtSPEED, but a little slower then a glacier.
He even talked slow.
In what some might call "irony" but is actually just a happy coincidence, he drove his car really fast. He had a 1978 Trans Am with the Shaker hood, Edlebrock Carbs, Slam shifter and the Big 400 with 350 heads. It was in mint perfect condition.
It was Fast Eddies entire life and existence.
The only thing he ever talked about with any sort of animation, his eyes would glaze and he would stop stuttering. He Might even move his eyebrows up and down a little, to really emphasize a finer point of the "goddsdamned best vehicle that mankind has ever, or will ever see"
Fast Eddie and I got along pretty well, I only saw him one night a week on my mandatory weekly night-shift, he was on a permanent night shift. We tried working him during the day once, but he frightened the customers. So back to night shift he went.
Humans are generally complete asssholes. The guys on the night shift were no exception to this rule. They started making fast Eddie the joke.
I don't know exactly what they would do, probably just the normal stupid things that the cretinous drudges do to someone that is slightly off. Someone that never smiles. Someone whose only interest in life is an old Pontiac.
Whatever it was, it was mean. It changed Fast Eddie, slowly. It was not an instant thing, it happened over months. He started to get this crazed, haunted expression. He reminded me of a cartoon character that knows the ground could disappear at any moment. That any given second someone was going to yank the rug out from under him exposing the endless black pit.
He still did his job, the same as he had always done it. But when the Jackals damage something the buzzards start to circle.
The bosses took notice.
Not, of course, that the animals were biting at Fast Eddie, but that Fast Eddie was suddenly not their idea of an ideal employee.
Because to the Jackals and Buzzards, it not enough for you to do your job, never. You have to "fit in" as well. Run with the herd.
This was years before Columbine, years before the "bullying" bull shit that pervades the media. Even then though, in the halcyon years, I had this niggling fear that one day Fast Eddie was going to come into work with an AK-47 and kill everyone he could find.
It was the not-smiling.
He saw people, saw what they did, how they talked and interacted, how they made nice with one another. So he tried, even though it made no sense to him at all, he tried. He really did try, anyone with half an Iota of empathy, anyone with even an inkling of intelligence or imagination, would have seen it. He really did try.
Some people just don't fit in.
So one night I got to work to find Fast Eddies Trans Am wrapped around the last light pole in the parking lot. The drivers door was open and there was no sign of Fast Eddie.
I went in and no one knew, or would admit, to knowing what had happened. According to all of them Fast Eddie had just suddenly stood up, without a word, and just walked out.
I never did find out what the sons of bitches had done, But later on I had my own run in with their Boss. I still have dreams. happy dreams, about shooting him in the face with a 45lc.
As to fast Eddie?
I watched the surveillance video probably 20 times. He walks out of the building and gets into his car. After a minute the car rapidly accelerates and he drives it perfectly straight into the pole. No brakes, no swerve.
He had clearly made a choice and followed it through. After a few seconds he got out of the car and walked away.
He never claimed the car, or his final paycheck. I like to think that he found a job working on his Pontiacs.
I doubt I will ever know.
I started out to write this memory as a little slice of humorous life.
But that just would not have been fair.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stranger things

Some of the conversations I have with people border on the absurd.
Scratch that, let me re-phrase, very few of the conversations I have with people could be considered normal.
Possibly because I do not fit into the "normal" spectrum, but I think that the universe has a sick sense of humor.
Either that or Karma-man hates my guts for stealing his weed in a previous life.
I had a female walk up to me at work the other day and throw a hand drawn floor map at me. Then she screamed (loudly) "I want my 48 feet back!"
I had no idea who she was or what the hell she was talking about. Fearing that she was having an episode of some sort I plastered the "concern" expression on my face and remained silent.
She plastered the "furious hate" expression on her face and stood staring at me with her arms folded.
I felt that she was ready to stand there all the live long day so I relented and said "Huh?"
She took this for the green light and was verbally off like a shot. After about a three minute rant, three minutes by my watch, which I kept glancing at, I got the gist.
She had given me a hand-drawn request for some small interior project she wanted done the week before, measured out with her very accurate paces, and I had the absolute gall! The nerve! The GOD-COMPLEX! To give her back a blueprint, computer generated from the stupid building plans that reduced her spacious 48 feet to a paltry 32.
I was confounded. Rendered speechless.
She took this as even more encouragement and started wailing about the unfairness of life, the stupid domination of men and their even dumber ability to pee wherever they feel and my idiotic reliance on such inane things as "BLUEPRINTS" "TAPE-MEASURES" "LEVELS AND LASERS" and other such malignant tools of Herr Satan.

I had recovered sufficiently by this point to try and reason with her by explaining that on the 4th floor, there really was only 32 feet between the walls in her area and That I would be pleased to walk over with her and show her. Using the tape measure that, since time immemorial, has given us dumb ass Americans the measure of feet, inches and so forth.
She actually threw her laptop bag on the ground and screamed at me that only if I gave her the 48 feet back which I had taken from her was she ever going to let this drop.
She turned on her heels and marched directly into the CEOs office, slamming the door behind her.
Not before I was able to hear the screamed, "I just want my 48 feet back....."
Stunned Silence.
I heard the click of a keyboard, the hum of a printer.
Then Laughter.
Not a roar of laughter, not a group, not even the dual chorus of two folks laughing at a good joke. 220 people within hearing distance and one guy was laughing.
I turned to see who it was.
A Director, of another Division.
To my somewhat stunned expression, he laughed even harder.
Patted me on the back and said "your job really sucks"
Yes it really does.