Early in my career at the Small Office, I became friendly with a guy in shipping – a foreman we used to call Snake. His nickname had nothing to do with his personality and everything to do with a stunning diamondback rattlesnake tattoo that covered nearly the entirety of his back. He did a few favors for me and, when the time came, I put in a good word for him, helping him get promoted to supervisor. He always had a walkie-talkie attached to his hip and, when a crackely voice would reach out through the static, he would acknowledge it with an “I am listening”. The “I am listening” became his trademark – even more so than the rattler.
Well it happened one day that I was going to a funeral way out in the East End. It is a thing in the Small Office that when a close relative of an employee dies, a notice goes up on the bulletin board and, almost certainly, a crowd will gather and find its way to the funeral. In the company of our pretty but poutish advertising manager, Whiny Baby, and Sue O’, my assistant, I made my way to an older, less savory part of town.
It was around lunchtime and we had time to kill before the funeral, so we drove around looking for a place to eat. We had no idea where we were or what was available. My best guess was nowhere and nothing, respectively.
We eventually found a hole-in-the-wall eatery and decided not to be choosers. We parked the car nearby and went inside. It was a bit divy, the menu was overly simple, the two grizzlies hunched over a corner table were sketch, and the waitress was rather indelicate to say the least. All considered, I figured the food would be good.
It was like we had landed on the set of Chopper Chicks in Zombietown.
I heard a throaty rumbling outside and took a quick look. There were about a half dozen Harleys and a bunch of Hell’s Angels types congregating in front, no doubt for their daily prayers. I looked to the womenfolk and they looked back, eyes wide. It was like we had landed on the set of Chopper Chicks in Zombietown and everyone here was Billy Bob Thornton.
The waitress or whatever she was dismissively looked down at us. Well, she said impatiently, what’ll it be? I was thinking of asking for a tall glass of milk but thought better of it.
Just then, I heard my name called out. I spun around. It was Snake, all decked out like some outlaw biker. He roared, grabbed both my shoulders and practically hoisted me out of my chair. Snake barked at the waitress, told her to bring us all burgers and brews and then sat down to talk. Whew. So this wasn’t going to end up being the Northville Cemetery Massacre after all.
Well, we had a fine lunch: the burgers were really quite tasty, the beer icy cold, the conversation loud and friendly. We were joined by some of Snake’s buddies and all was very cool… even me in my Brooks Brothers suit. We eventually left for the funeral where things were… uh… more subdued.
The next day, as I walked through the shipping door to the office area, I got knowing nods from the guys. Word of our adventure got out and, suddenly, through no fault of my own, I had cred.
Smug and smiling to myself, I wondered, where I can go now that I’ve finally arrived?