Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 60 - Trouble Brewing

          There was nothing of substance on the job boards today. I’ve noticed a pattern. Tuesdays and Wednesdays seem to have the most new job postings. Then activity tapers off. Mondays seem to be the slowest. Of course this is only after a few weeks of observation so it may not be valid at all. I’m just saying.
          I like to study patterns and trends. If I had the patience for charting and graphing all my observations, I might know a hell of a lot more than I do. Still I watch and observe and file stuff away in my mind, and sometimes it helps me predict the future. Other times I am taken completely by surprise. Completely by surprise is a good characterization of my life with Ivan’s company. For the sake of brevity, let’s call them Quilnutz.
          While Fische, Ivan’s travelling second, was very like Ivan in his use of abusive and scatological language he was very different in one other important regard. Ivan was as nearly asexual as a man can get and still be married with children. Ivan was unmoved by and oblivious to anything remotely associated with feminine wiles. He was not a philanderer, a chaser, a flirt, a gawker, a backslapping exchanger of sexual innuendo, a speculator, or a teller of dirty jokes. He seemed immune to women with the exception possibly of his wife, and his receptiveness to her input must have been based on something other than romance as she was more manly by half than most of the men at Quilnutz. Further, Ivan seemed to have passed this immunity on to his son who also had little if any use for or attraction to women, although in the son’s case it would be hard to judge his predilections based on evidence that was likely influenced to some extent by the continual presence of manure on his boots.
Fische on the other hand may have been happy to share Ivan’s family dispositions in many things from salty talk to motorcycles and greasy foods to the smell of diesel, but asexual he was not. This led to some of the darkest days of my career.
          Shortly after Quilnutz took over our company Fische decided that the skill-set of my cost accountant would better serve the company in another capacity. He decided to make him the assistant production manager. Fische announced his intention to the cost accountant, let’s call him Rob, on the company jet during a trip to Florida. Rob stalled. Rob felt that he owed a certain amount of loyalty to me for plucking him out of the upholstery shop and giving him a chance to use his accounting degree for a change. Rob told Fische that he couldn’t give him an answer until after he had talked to me. Fische told him that it didn’t matter what I had to say in the matter, that Rob would be the new assistant production manager or he would be fired. Fische gave him two weeks to transition.
This kind of thing was typical of Fische’s heavy handed management style, something he had learned in the Marine Corps and carried with him throughout his civilian career. Everything with Fische was a battle, and success or failure was always measured by a body count.
          Rob came to me and laid out the new plan. I realized quickly that there would be no point in protesting. Anything I said at that point would get me another one of the by now famous Quilnutz lectures where the lecturer stands the lecturee up against a wall and yells obscenities at him until the paint blisters around him in a perfect silhouette. That way when they come to cart the carcass away there’s no need for the forensics people to make a chalk outline. I had two weeks to find and train a new cost accountant.
          My wife knew someone who might fit the bill. One of the other agents in the real estate office where my wife worked was a young woman with an accounting degree and some experience in oil and gas accounting. I knew oil and gas accounting to be a demanding field, so I reasoned that she would be smart and trainable and, more importantly, given the lack of otherwise qualified candidates in our area, a quick hire if she was interested. I gave her a call. She was interested. She came in for an interview the next day.
          My new candidate, the real estate agent, acquaintance and co-worker of my wife, let’s call her Alicia, was not just smart, educated, and trainable. She was also very attractive. She had a pretty face framed with a lush cascade of auburn hair. I did the interview, gave her a plant tour, and agreed to call her by the end of the week with a decision. After she left half a dozen fellows from the plant floor stopped by my office to thank me for giving her a tour of the plant floor so they could see her and to encourage me to make her an offer. They agreed to subsidize her salary if money became an issue. The women in the office, who I later learned all knew Alicia and loathed her, said not a word. Had they said something they might have helped prevent the train wreck that was about to happen, but they chose to keep quiet until it was too late.
          In my experience sometimes women will tell you too much too soon and sometimes they will tell you too little too late. In either case they expect men to glean from the exchange what constitutes to the women proper and sensible behavior. In either case a man will almost always guess wrong and in so doing set himself up for a boatload of censure from the women who could have conveyed useful information, but chose instead to put the poor bastard to the test.
          I made Alicia an offer, and she accepted. I was a hero among the men of the plant. I was a goat among the women. The trouble began shortly after, when Fische met her.

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