This is the introduction to a series of short, humorous stories in the life of a middle-aged man whom, you might say, is a square peg trying to fit into a round hole – an Andy Capp sort of a guy who’s opinionated, who claims to know it all—or thinks he does and doesn’t mind sharing his version of what’s right with his co-workers, and especially with Mortimer, the company Maintenance Man, with whom he is forced to be closely associated with. Not that it was Mortimer’s idea for the two to share space but, well, as you read the story you’ll get to know how this all came about.
This is “Me” talkin’. I do most of the talkin’ and explainin’ around here now ‘cause Mortimer don’t say much anymore. When I first came here we used to talk with each other more, but I guess he just couldn’t stand my correctin’ the way he was always doin’ things wrong, so he mostly avoids me now.
First, I gotta tell you how come I got my office moved down here in the maintenance tool shed with Mortimer. Mortimer is the company’s Maintenance Man—sort of a general fixer-upper who thinks he knows a lot of stuff about a lot of things Well I think he knows something about a lot of things, but I say he ain’t no specialist in any one thing, if you know what I mean.
I joined the company about three years ago. I was hired to work on the second floor in the main Administrative Office back up there on the hill as a File Clerk. It wasn’t a bad job. The pay is good and it didn’t require much work, but my boss was one of those guys who sure didn’t know nothin’ about filing! At the time, I tried over and over again to show him how the filing system should be set up, but he didn’t seem to appreciate my help. Some boss, if you ask me; can’t take any correction!
At first, he just ignored me and just went about doin’ things his own way anyway, but later, he started gettin’ mad at me fer insistin’ he should try and do things the right way—my way. Then, one day, he just exploded.
“That’s enough! I’ve had it with you,” I can still remember him yellin’ at me. “I’m moving you out of my sight!”
An’, that’s how I got to have my office and the filing cabinets moved into the Company’s Maintenance Shed here where Mortimer works. They had to clean out a section of the shed just for me and my filing cabinets, and I don’t think ol’ Mortimer liked that ‘cause it took some space away from all his fixer-upper junk that he uses in his work. You’d think that he’d complain about havin’ less space now, but, no sir! Not ol Mort! Mort’s one of those ‘yes-men’ that the company likes to keep around. Not like me. If I see somethin’s done the way it ain’t supposed to be done, I speak out!
I’m still in charge of filing, though. The boss didn’t take that important job from me. Good thing, too, ‘cause if he’da threatened to fire me one more time, I’da just turned around and quit!
Of course, Mortimer was quick to mark off his space in the tool shed from mine. My space is over here—see, over here in the north-east corner. Problem is, I got no window to look out of, nor do I get any sunshine comin’ in, and it can get a bit cool here, so I always gotta wear a jacket.
Actually, when I saw how things was turnin’ out, I was ready to accept the boss’s offer and just quit, but I needed the job, so I agreed to the move. What the heck, I thought, I can still exert my expertise on the company’s filing system from here in the shed.
These days, Mort mostly speaks to me only when I asked him something, or if he needs something from me. You’ll see later on why he acts so funny. I’ll explain more about him and why I think he’s screwier than a backwards-threaded nut, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
I’ll give you an example of what I mean about the guy. I just got to work this mornin’ and barely had a chance to finish readin’ my newspaper and finish my second cup of coffee when I’m disturbed by Mort makin’ all kinds of banging and rattling noise while rooting through his tool box. I can see he’s getting’ sort of frustrated and muttering to hisself. He usually comes in to work early: sometimes about half hour before he’s supposed to be here. The nerd! Tryin’ to suck up to the boss, I guess. Anyway, that’s his business. I don’t come in to work a minute before I’m supposed to. I ain’t no suck-hole!
“What’s buggin’ your butt this mornin’?” I finally ask Mort. The noise of his rootin’ around was interfering with me trying to solve the morning paper’s crossword puzzle.
“You seen my hammer?”
“The one that I normally leave here in my tool box.”
I had to think for a moment. “Oh, you mean the one with the red painted wooden handle? I used it to pound a nail into the wall so I could hang his girly calendar of mine. That gal’s really stacked, eh?”
“Well, where did you leave it?”
“Where did I leave what?”
“The hammer! I need it!”
Sheesh! That guy’s temper-fuse is about as short as a bull who just discovered an intruder in his pasture! “Hey, cool it, man! Who’re you yellin’ at? Here’s your dumb hammer, right where I left it … let’s see – yeah, here it is, in my bottom desk drawer.”
Mort grabs the hammer, tosses it into his tool box and stomps out without so much as a thank you to me fer handing him his hammer.
Sheesh! You’d think I was responsible for his tools! But, anyway, now you see what I mean about me tryin’ to get along with folks in this Company. As I already said, if I didn’t need this job so bad, I’d tell them where to shove it.
Until next time, hope you’re havin’ a better day than I am!