Now what?

Harvey, supervisor of the Loading Dock and ABC Trucking, hates to delegate. His new employee, Albert, is frustrated. Harvey’s boss, Bert, is getting ready to write Harvey up for poor performance because Harvey’s employee, Albert, who is untrained, keeps messing up. Albert has already sent a shipment of propellers to an obscure warehouse. Bad idea.

Is this a story? (One hint. Harvey shows up with a fake beard one day. Hmmm. Why does he do that? Clearly, this is not stereotypical business behavior.)

Okay, I didn’t want to make this a workday blah-de-blah, but a chance to write creatively. What’s going to happen?

42 responses to “Now what?

  1. “Who knew it was necessary to stipulate ‘trained’ on the job description? Never in my wildest dreams…” Harvey’s voice trailed off. He realized he was talking aloud to himself. What am I doing here? This place is a circus.

    Harvey reached for the bucket at his side. What the –? He scanned the floor and turned 360 degrees. He had put the bucket down just a moment ago. Where did it go? He rolled his eyes. So much for that enchanted childhood notion of running away with the big top. He pursed his lips and took a deep breath through his nose. He immediately regretted the deep breath.

    Redirecting his attention to the task at hand, Harvey leaned his shovel against the wall near a steaming pile of dung on the floor, and went off in search of the missing bucket. As he turned a corner, he heard the handle of the shovel slide down the wall. He waited for the sound of the handle hitting the hard warehouse floor. Instead, it sounded like the handle hit something soft. Figures, he thought. Shit.

    • Oh dear, fun Zelda. What’s serious Zelda gonna do when she reads this? You better come up with some effective diversionary tactics to keep her away from here.

      I sprayed some heavy duty air freshener so that should eliminate the stench at least for the time being.

    • I glad Fun Zelda found her way to the keyboard. Poor old Harvey, they couldn’t pay him enough for that job.

  2. Woo-hoo, Zelda! Way to go. F/ Scott would give you a big thumbs up for that one. In a decorous, gentlemanly fashion, of course.

    Can anybody top this? I doubt it, but there’s always hope.

    • Gee! Thanks, Gully. Your comments put a huge grin on my face. I’m sure, however, that you all, with your incredible talent, imagination, and skill, can come up with ideas that will top mine, and then some. Thanks again!

  3. Harvey, without the fake beard he bought last night, walked into Bert’s office. “I fired Albert. He’s totally untrainable. I know I’m partially to blame for his incompetence so I’ve found someone to replace him. He’s my second cousin. He looks a lot like me only he has a beard. You’ll like him.”

    “I trust you Bert. Up until Albert came here, you’ve always been dependable. You do the work of two people and I appreciate that but I’m glad you’re taking my opinion seriously. I’m sorry Albert didn’t work out but I want this to work for you. For your health, you need to share your job with someone and you’re cousin or second cousin or whatever I’m sure will be fine. Send him in to meet me would ya?”

    “Sure, Bert. His name is Chuck. He’s kind of shy so don’t put him on the spot or get too close to him. He likes his space, ya know. He’s really shy, but a good hard worker,” Harvey said over his shoulder as he left Bert’s office.

    Damn. I better hurry, Harvey said to himself as he ran for his locker to grab his fake beard.

    Harvey detested giving orders. That’s the main reason he fired Albert. He’d rather do all the work himself and know it was done right. If he could pull this off he’d be in the driver’s seat again.

    Harvey pulled on the scratchy, fake beard and hid the fasteners under a baseball cap. He took a deep breath and headed back to Bert’s office.

  4. Post haste, Shaddy? I thought was my talent.

  5. Talk about post haste!

  6. Harvey adjusts his fake beard as he walks onto the dock. The breeze almost blows his stove pipe hat off his bald head. He looks just like a short overweight Abe Lincoln.

    “Excuse me folks, gather around please. I was watching Kasmil last night and he said to emulate someone that you admire. Today is Abe Lincoln’s birthday and I admire him, in fact I’m going to give you all a picture of Abe that you can use to buy a sodie water and a snack.” With that he handed out five dollars to his employees, all except Albert.

    “Albert, I have a special offer for you. You’ve screwed up a bunch around here. I should fire you but as Kasmil points out, some of your screw ups could be because of my attitude toward you. So here is your five bucks, I’ll give you fifty at the end of the month if you don’t screw up again. Just think what you’re doing, your job isn’t that hard.”

    “Yes sir, Mr. Harvey. I’ll make you proud of me. After all, momma always said that stupid is the dumbest thing of all.” Albert exits stage left.

    Harvey walks into his office, his boss Bert is sitting with his feet on Harvey’s desk, “What the hell is a short, fat Abe Lincoln doing here?” Bert’s laugh redded Harvey’s ears. “So, I see you still have Albert around. I guess I could get rid of two problems by firing both of you.”

    Harvey’s blood pressure was sky-rocketing, “Albert will be fine, he just takes extra effort. I doubt if he makes any more mistakes this month.”

    Bert walks around the desk and stands in front of Harvey, “He better not, for both your sakes.” He reaches out and pulls Harvey’s beard and let’s it snap back on Harvey’s chin and leaves the office.

    Harvey walks around and looks at his chair. Perfect setup, he thought, he sat on the chocolate, now he’ll have a big brown spot on his perfectly pressed slacks.

    He smiled as he heard the laughter coming from the dock.

    • You’re brilliant, Walk. The way you worked Kasmil into Ann’s creative writing nudge is pretty darn clever, my friend.

      Your kind and generous personality is evident in the way you chose to keep Albert around and to gift each employee with a five dollar picture of Abe.

      Your writing just keeps getting better and better in a variety of ways.

      If you had a beard, I’d give it a playful jerk right now.

  7. YES! Kasmil lives!
    My favorite response so far, Walk.

  8. Albert turned both faucets to full and punched the button for the hand dryer. Satisfied the volume was adequate, he slipped the miniature cell phone from the pouch hidden behind his belt buckle. He dialed “1”, the only number on the phone, took a deep breath and fiddled with his hearing aid.

    “Go,” came an answering voice.

    “Not good,” said Albert. “I think I’m gonna get canned. Screwed up on a shipment. Subject keeps things pretty close to the vest. I can’t get anything.”

    “Tape?”

    “Nope. He asked me this morning why I keep messing with the hearing aid. Told him it was feedback. Besides, he hasn’t said anything worth taping yet.”

    “Boss?”

    “Stays outta the way. Lets Harvey handle everything on the dock. Only seen him once. I’m starting to think this is Harvey’s deal all the way and the boss doesn’t know anything.”

    “Anything?”

    “Maybe. Harvey showed up in a phony beard this morning and passed out five dollar bills in honor of Abe Lincoln. Told me he’d give me fifty if I didn’t screw up anymore this month. I don’t know. I thought he was running a payroll scam for a while. We’ll see what happens when the bean counter comes around with paychecks on Friday.”

    “Hang in there. Took a long time to set this up and get you in undercover.”

    “Yeah, yeah. I know. We always get our man, right? Unless he gets us first.”

    “Harvey Fork Lift’s going down this time. Let’s hope Bert Bananas goes down with him.”

    “Yeah. Busting’ the Papa. Big career incentive there. Maybe I can go back to being myself instead of….gotta go. Someone’s comin’.”

    Albert slipped the tiny phone into the pouch, quickly shut off the faucets, and stuck his hands in the hot air blowing from the dryer.

    “Hey you!” yelled Harvey. “You sleepin’ in there? Get back to work or the fifty’s a dead deal. Wrap that pallet of pizza boxes for Gambino’s and for Christ’s sakes, don’t send THEM to Hoboken too!”

    • Look at you, Gully. Rocking with fiction again. You’re a jack of all trades and a master of them as well.

      Good job with your dialogue and good old Gully humor, to boot.

  9. Aw, Secret Agent Man. I think I saw a wrench in there somewhere.

  10. We’re told that dialogue should always advance the plot, otherwise it’s superfluous. What I attempted to do with almost all dialogue and very little narrative, was set a scene, introduce (somewhat) the characters, and reveal part of a plot. Whaddaya think?

    PS: Here comes Walk the plumber with the monkey wrench.

  11. Kathy H: Are things settling down for you now that the wedding day has come and gone and you’ve hopefully recovered from that traumatic pedicure?

    I’ll make it a multiple choice question:

    Please let us know how you are by answering the following question with a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, or l.

    How are you doing? Are you still persevering, KathyH?

    a. I’m leading a small group which meets at my house three mornings a week. We’re sharing our experiences with persevering and passing the medal on to whomever has earned it.
    b. I’ve still got a hangover from the wedding reception.
    c. I’m spending my days staring at my beautiful toenails.
    d. If I wanted you to know anything about me, I would have told you.
    e. All of the above.
    f. None of the above.
    g. a and b
    h. a and c
    i. a and sometimes c
    j. b and c
    k. c and occasionally d
    l. Please leave me alone

  12. Jumping backwards to characters and their likability or not, check this out: http://wordplay-kmweiland.blogspot.com/2009/06/characters-likability-is-overrated.html

    And, as for perseverance, in a couple days I’ll be posting some perseverance pix at Gullible’s Travels. Look for Gullible’s Gazette.

  13. I greatly enjoyed reading everyone’s stories. The secret agent approach crossed my mind, but I could not have done nearly as nice a job as Gullible!
    Below is my story…

    *******

    “Of all the days to be tied up late at work! All I wanted to do is get home. Careful… careful… I can’t accidentally cut too deeply in the box.”

    Opening the UPS delivery with the precision of a surgeon, Harvey continued muttering to himself, “These days, I can’t trust that Albert to do anything right. If he sent a truck of propellers off to some obscure warehouse in the middle of nowhere, then how can I expect him get the flaps and ailerons to the right place either? Sheesh!”

    Full of anticipation, Harvey immediately forgot Albert, and his imagination giddily started jumping around all of his hopes for tomorrow. His hands momentarily paused over the open carton flaps. He then took a deep breath that closed his eyes.

    “Ah, the box is open! My new beard is here!”

    Harvey pulled out his custom full-face beard. He held it up to the light and examined the wig from all sides as though it were a piece of sculpture. He then put it in front of his face to admire his new self in the mirror. The textured, snowy hair was as authentic as promised.

    “They really matched the hair sample I sent. It was well worth my entire tax refund! No one will ever know it’s not real.” Harvey smiled at his bearded reflection with satisfaction and pride.

    He never stopped to think about the fact he was bare faced when he left the ABC Trucking office at 8:24 p.m. and would return to the ABC Trucking office at 7:30 a.m.–less than 12 hours later–sporting a full beard. He could not be troubled with such details of continuity and logic.

    After spending some time appreciating his spiffy new beard and practicing particular bearded facial expressions, Harvey placed his precious shock of hair on the table as carefully as a mother would place her infant in a bassinet.

    His attention then turned to all the accessories at the bottom of the box.

    “Perfect! Spirit gum, spirit gum remover, comb, and a hair care kit. It’s all here.”

    Harvey’s could not sit still. Dinner was out of the question. The Colorado Rockies-Houston Astros baseball game would have to wait, too. Even Popeye and Olive Oyl, his two goldfish, would have to go without food tonight. Their dad was too distracted, which, unfortunately for them, was not all that unusual since he worked such long hours.

    The next stop was the closet. He put the crispest, darkest blue jeans and his clean new work boots out on the chair before selecting his favorite dark blue plaid shirt—“Everyone likes blue, and besides, they always say blue goes well with my prematurely whitened hair.”

    The ringing doorbell interrupted what seemed to already be a full night of activity. The owner of the new beard reluctantly and with impatient frustration opened the door.

    “Hey, Harvey! Just wanted to see if you’d like to go down to Champs for a beer and some base… Hey! Dude! You are not serious! You actually ordered that thing? Are you crazy?”

    Harvey’s eyes plummeted to the floor—no chance of looking anywhere in the vicinity of Frank.

    Frank pushed his way into Harvey’s apartment. Frank and Harvey had been buddies forever, and Frank was the only person who could get Harvey’s attention these days.

    “Aw c’mon Harv! This isn’t the way to do it. First, it was Albert. You did all his work to try to impress. That one completely backfired. When Bert *made* you delegate to Albert, the guy messed up big time. You know Albert’s blunder makes *you* look bad, don’t you?”

    “But Frank, you know how it is. I never wanted to be ‘Manager.’ I was great at my job, and I wanted to advance with ABC Trucking. Accepting the manager position was the only way to move up. No one ever trained me how to manage others. How can they expect me to train anyone else? Besides, Albert is dumb as dirt.”

    “Quit kidding yourself, Harv. The manager thing is not the problem. The problem is Mary Ann Hightower and her assistant, Carla. You and Carla went to high school together. You got Carla to tell you all about Miss Mary Ann. Bud, you’re outta your league with her.”

    Harvey was still staring at the floor. He had never before noticed the coffee stain by the front door. Without making eye contact, Harvey evasively stole across the room to the table where the lace-backed beard rested quietly in anticipation of coming events.

    Shaking his head, Frank continued, “So you think that beard is going to change things? Bert, Albert, Carla, and everyone else will think you are crazy for cocoa puffs.”

    “But Mary Ann is coming to the warehouse for the first time tomorrow, and I want to put my best foot forward. I would have grown the beard myself, but her visit came up at the last minute,” said Harvey.

    “Yeah, her visit did come up at the last minute. You know why she’s coming don’t you? She’s coming because Albert screwed up one to many times, and she wants to get to the bottom of the problem. She may have just inherited the company from her father, but she has one of those fancy degrees from Harvard. She’s not stupid.”

    Seeming not to hear a word Frank said, Harvey continued, “Carla told me that Mary Ann is, quite unexpectedly, a huge Star Wars fan. She even has the complete Star Wars Trilogy, the full screen edition with bonus disc. Carla said Mary Ann even pre-ordered the complete set on Blu-ray. Believe me, I know from experience that almost no women share my devotion to Star Wars like Mary Ann does.”

    “You both may be the biggest Star Wars fans in this galaxy, but…”

    “But what?” asked Harvey. “Lots of people tell me I look kinda like Alec Guiness. With this beard, I will be an ABC Trucking Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi! Mary Ann will have to notice me.”

    “So, are you going to wear long robes, carry a light saber, and talk about the Force all day? That’d be something different. Mary Ann would never forget that! I’d even pull up a seat and a bucket of popcorn to see that!” joked Frank.

    “Ha-ha-ha, Frank. I am not going to wear that kind of getup. What kind of guy do you think I am?”

    “Nuts. An absolutely nuts kind of guy… Okay, Harvey. Do what you have to do. I’ll come by tomorrow night; you may be ready for those beers and a bunch of baseball. May the Force be with you, dude. You’ll need it!”

    “Very funny. Get out of here Frank.”

  14. Way to go, Lassie. You’ve taken this to a new level.

    Are we all beginning to hate Harvey now as much as we hate John of John and Martha fame?

    I jest–I love this stuff, and it’s so great to be in touch with Ann.

    • I went there, Gully. She’s written some especially good stuff regarding the absurdity of important educational issues–she’s extremely clever in making her point and making us laugh simultaneously.

  15. Way to go, Lassie. You’re to be commended on your imagination, creativity AND writing skills.

  16. Late tonight I will post a story at my blog called Fleeting Windows of Serendipity. So my writer friends will be able to read between the lines and understand how special this visit was, I will tell you that the lady in question has mid stage Alzheimer’s and terminal cancer.

    • I just came from your blog. I’m so sorry to hear of Diana’s health issues. Oh dear, I’m so, so sorry. She’s a delight. I love the photo of her in her baseball cap. What a lady!

      Damn! Life can be so unfair. I should delete that last sentence because life can be awesome as well, but I’ll let it be. We all know there are ups and there are downs.

  17. Barbara Burris

    Hi all,

    You’ve been writing up a storm! This is a wild story you’ve created. I’m super busy right now with school and a couple of short vacations but I’ll be back before the end of the month.

    Happy 4th of July!

  18. Datgum, I must be getting old. I wrote a masterpiece last night and I must not have submitted it. Oh, well, that’s the way the ole Harvey bounces I guess.

    Have a great 4th, be safe and thankful for such a place to call home.

    • Datgum, Walk. The same thing happened to me. Mine was especially good too and I don’t know where it went. (Maybe I only dreamed it).

      You have a fun weekend too.

  19. Datgum, y’all. I reckon I’m older than all a ya, and I KNOW exactly where my masterpiece is. In the trash.

    • Datgum it, again. Quick, Gully. Pull it out and send it to me. I’ll take it in whatever shape it’s in. If necessary, I’ll tape it back together, then I’ll adopt it and sign my name to the bottom.

      One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

      Deal?

  20. Datgum, Shaddy. Too late. Pablo dun et it.

  21. Datgum, I’ll be datgum, datgum it.

  22. “Hmmm,” Harvey wondered. “What kind of crap future have I got in the hands of a synopsis writer who gives two characters in the same story names as similar as ‘Bert’ and ‘Albert’? I’ll just put on this false beard and sneak off into something by Shakespeare.”

  23. “Or then again, maybe I’ll try to make it big in Hollywood,” Harvey thought, tossing the false beard into the trash. “If my home-made invisibility potion works, I could even get a gig in a Jimmy Stewart movie.”

  24. FIGNATZ!!! Welcome to our parallel universe, but what’s a nice guy like you doing in a place like this?

  25. HEY, WALK!!! I know you’ve been looking all over tarnation for your monkey wrench. I know where it is! Sarah Palin has it!!!

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