Company Picnic

The picnic began, as all picnics do, with a hunt for a place to sit.

At the company picnic, however, everyone was looking for a place to sit, so they continuously ran in to each other. It being a company of headstrong, stubborn individuals, it meant few ever made way for the others. It was, therefore, an hour and a half before everyone was seated and comfortable.

No one was allowed to begin eating before Jules gave a speech, and concluded with the company mantra. Following that, he announced, “And now, we begin the company games! Winner gets a bite of everyone’s spread!”

The winner, of course, was Jules. Everyone remembered the lessons – either real or myth – of ten years’ previous, when everyone who came ahead of Jules was fired.

So Jules took the prize, doing slightly better than the previous year, as he had done for the past nine years. Everyone offered him a bite – or more – of their lunch. Everyone sat nervously as Jules made jokes at which they laughed, asked questions which they answered cautiously, and suggested lifestyle changes which were only feasible by people making the excessive salary Jules earned.

As the picnic began to wound down, Jules demanded people stay. Those who had already left, everyone knew, were now on a list. The HR team prepared themselves for the coming round of hires.

The company picnic was deemed a great success, and everyone, the memo informed them, was looking forward to next year’s.

Company Policies

As soon as the dishwasher was broken, Anna called the repairman. It would be a few hours, the company told her, but someone would be there that day; it must be a slow day, she thought.

When he finally arrived, he was a gruff, slovenly man who leered at Anna’s body, introduced himself, not unfittingly, as “Biff” before he pushed his way into her house without her invitation.

Biff’s clothes were flecked and crusted with various remainders, a characteristic not unusual for repair work, though in this case long past the point of need for a run through the washing machine, at least (and replacement, ideally). His pants, however, were the main problem. Biff seemed to have adopted a style of pants-wearing somewhere between plumbers and young men, exposing both his underwear and the upper portion of his posterior. His underwear needed a wash too, Anna noted.

Biff spent longer working on the dishwasher than necessary; significantly longer. Indeed, he seemed to be dallying about, clearly wasting time when the repair should have taken, at most, five minutes.

When he completed his work after a full hour and twelve minutes (Anna noted the exact time), he stood and said, “That’ll be seventy-five for the labour and twenty for the part.”

“Seventy-five, you say?”

“Yes ma’am. I’ve rounded my time down to an hour, rather than the hour fifteen I should charge.”

“I see, very good. Thank you Biff, this has been most enlightening.

“Now, I’d like to point out that you spent an hour to replace a faulty bolt, one that was very clearly sticking out, easy to diagnose, and easy to fix. Not only that, you’re charging me twenty dollars for that bolt, which costs all of thirty-five cents. You were rude, poorly presented, and are trying to scam me.”

“What are you, the repairman police? I came cuz you called me to fix something, I did the job, so you gotta pay.”

“I am, indeed, the ‘repairman police’, as you call it. Your company hired me to check on all of its repair workers, so I’m doing just that. I set up an easy fix for you, Biff, and you showed remarkably poor ethics. You now have a choice: you can take a training course to get yourself up to par with the others, or you can be fired.”

“Can’t fire me for doin’ my job.”

“Check your contract. Your job includes representing the company in the best manner possible, and reflecting the values and goodwill it strives to espouse. As I was saying, you’re not being fired right now. You can take a training course, paid for by the company, and if you show improvement, you’ll stay on. Or you can walk away now with two days’ pay.”

Biff sighed. “Sure, I’ll take the damn course thing.”

“Good choice. I look forward to working with you next weekend, then.”

Biff left, and Anna wrote up her report before resetting the dishwasher for her next future student.