I worked in an office with just two other people. It was not the most exciting job ever, nor did it require any kind of advanced education. We were a satellite office, well removed from the home office. I won’t mention the name of our company or the location of the home office for fear of exposing our identity.
I will tell you that we were the market research division of our company. Sounds pretty impressive, right? Well, it wasn’t. Actually, it was usually pretty boring; that was until the new guy showed up.
I arrived Monday morning, my usual ten or so minutes late. My boss, Jennifer, greeted me the same as every Monday, with a, “Hi, how was your weekend?” followed by a brief chat on what each of us did.
Something you should know about me is, I am or strive to be a practicing Christian. Don’t get your knickers in a twist, I’m not here to tell you that you’re going to hell if you don’t see things my way, so just relax. I try to obey the top ten or at least the top two and with that, I have my hands full. For me the weekend usually consisted of resting on Saturday and studying scripture, laying around for as long as I could sit still and then gardening or working on some sort of project or playing with my roommate’s kids. Sunday, I did laundry and ran errands. Like you needed to know all that, but it played a definite part in the story.
So anyway, we had our chat, the boss and I. Jennifer informed me that when she and Dan arrived at work, she found the new guy waiting. We had asked the home office to consider giving us another person as our workload had significantly increased over the last several months. She thought it was a little odd though that the home office had not informed her of a new addition to our staff. The new guy said he had Skype interviews with Giles, our direct manager and Jayesh, the owner. We were to process him through the temp agency we usually use.
She hit the highlights of what I was to be doing that day because it changes. To top it all off, the server was down, so Jennifer and Dan would have to work offline until the home office could fix the problem remotely. She sent them an email, explaining what was going on and to let them know their new guy arrived. Right as she hit “send,” the power to the whole building went out.
It was mid-January so power outages were not uncommon due to the weather. It was less of a problem for us as we had a backup generator, unlike the rest of the businesses in the building. Most of them had to shut down for the day, whereas, we could go on working. We just couldn’t contact the home office or send them our work. As per usual, I was training the new guy, taking him out in the field with me. Jennifer told me his name was Brone Dugal.
I went to the photo lab, manned by our Dave who had been chatting with Brone and shooting pictures while I was with the boss.
As I entered the room, I heard Dan say, “Well, that’s a new one on me.”
Dan turned to me with a look on his face that just was not quite Dan and said, “Hey Les, say hi to Brone.”
Brone turned to me. I shook his hand, smiled and said, “Hi Brone.”
There was nothing terribly unusual about the guy, except his hand shake. It was limp and awkward. He seemed to recoil at my touch. That was unusual. My looks are somewhat out of the ordinary. I exude an unusual combination of austere, yet friendly energy. People find this strangely comforting. Brone was quite tall to me, but so was Dan, at 6’2”. Brone was 6’5” if he was an inch, but kind of gangly. He made me think of, what’s that weird thing called? The Thin Man, no the Slender Man. At 52, I am a rather less than fit 170 pounds and a short 5 feet. So, to me, a lot of people are tall.
Dan had something to tell me about this guy, but it would have to wait until later. I figured Dan’s issue with Brone was probably related to his height. Dan was not used to looking up at people and I think it made him uncomfortable.
I took Brone with me to collect my gear which consisted of a PDA and camera. As was customary, we worked at the store until quitting time and went home from there. That was why I told Brone to take his own car. He offered to drive us, but his car was small. I needed the cargo area of my van. I told him where the store was in case I lost him on the freeway which, with me, could have easily happened. We arrived and began work on the first category, vitamins, where we looked for changes in packaging or new product lines. Brone did okay, again, it’s not theoretical physics. Seriously, it was basically asking, “Is the thing you’re holding in your hand different than the picture you see on the PDA?” It was literally that simple.
He had a peculiar habit of dropping certain types of vitamins. It was not like he bumped the shelf or bumbled the bottle. He just dropped them like they were magnetically repelled or like it hurt to touch them. When someone drops more than two bottles, I’m thinkin’ something’s up. He dropped garlic, mushroom, ginseng, onion extract, comfrey, suma and zinc supplements. It also seemed as though he was being especially careful not to let the infrared beam of the PDA touch him. Because of his strange behavior, it took us all day to complete the category which is too long. We were just doing a cursory scan and not recording any data.
So, we finally finished the work and his Side-Show Bob act had officially gotten on my nerves. I told him to take off and I would see him at work tomorrow. He said he felt bad leaving me to check the stuff out at the register. I told him I had some personal shopping to do and again to just go home. He seemed reluctant at first but relented and finally left. I didn’t really have any personal shopping to do. I just wanted to get rid of him. I checked the stuff out slowly to give Brone plenty of time to be gone by the time I got out to my car.
I chatted with one of the clerks I knew and managed to put Brone completely out of my mind by the time I headed out to my car. I popped the rear door and was loading the few bags into the rear cargo area. I heard footsteps come up behind me quickly. A shadow loomed over me. Before I could whirl around, someone grabbed me in a bearhug from behind and was trying to pick me up. Clearly, I was heavier than he anticipated. He was not able to get me off the ground, completely. My toes were dragging. As he spun me around, I saw Brone’s car still parked next to mine with the rear door open. I was friggin’ pissed! In a nanosecond, two thoughts ran through my mind. One, this weird fucker is trying to abduct me and two, you picked the wrong person to fuck with.
Come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to It Happened at Work: The New Guy