Grinding Grinder’s Nerves

December 25, 2009 at 2:30 pm (Cussed Dumbers)

This year’s Christmas seems kinda grinchy.

Dealing with the public keeps one’s finger on the pulse of society. While the crowds haven’t been so bad, those of us behind the scenes have been showing signs of wear and tear. I’ve been trying to remain chipper while others grump and bitch, but sometimes, as Popeye would say, “I’ve had all I can stands and I can’t stands no more!”

I had to push back a little…

One reason my co-workers have been bitchy is the pay schedule. Since payday falls on Christmas day this time around, the boss decided we could wait until Saturday to get paid. I’ve managed to squirrel away enough financial stash that it won’t kill me, but some of the paycheck-to-paycheck folks, especially the smokers, are less than thrilled. For most of the employees this means there won’t be a full check until Tuesday. Ouch.

Then there’s this situation with Grinder. For whatever reason he’s been incredibly grouchy lately. He finds the smallest details and blows them into huge proportions. (That’s why we call him Grinder.) I’ve long been exempt from his scrutiny, but something got me in the crosshairs, and we’ve been going round and round for the last few weeks.

It started with the lecture about doodling. My tiny caricatures of street life on the duty sheet annoyed him to near-stroke status. I countered by placing one giant checkmark across the page. Of course this made it worse, because I was supposed to initial every slot with, well, my initials. Whatever. It’s the same duty list I’ve been completing in one form or another for the last thirty years. I know what my job is.

Grinder’s take on my doodling? If I have time to draw tiny silly cartoons I have time to dust light bulbs and clean the bathroom. I haven’t brought up my latest defense yet. What about all the co-workers that stand outside smoking? When I smoked it took about seven minutes to smoke a cigarette. Once an hour per shift? That’s an hour of unproductivity!

If I mention that, there will be a memo published, and cigarette smokers will only be allowed to smoke on authorized breaks. (And I thought my co-workers were irritable before…) I’m only busting out that one if I’m threatened with termination. Otherwise the co-workers will be coming for me with torches and pitchforks.

My other “time-waster” is the newspaper. I read the daily throughout the course of the night. Since I bring my own from home, I am free to clip, fold, spindle and mutilate to my heart’s content. I’m always finding cartoons and headlines with absurd pertinences to the job, and tack them up in places out of the public eye. This is second only to doodling as a cardinal sin.

The latest batch to infuriate was my clown collection. I found a cartoon of three clowns looking mortified at the death of a fourth clown. Dr T pointed out that the three clowns resembled familiar faces: The shorter one with the bow-tie and “Eesh” expression resembled Dr T; the taller redheaded bug-eyed one looked like me; and the bald on top with rainbow-hair on the sides and toothy grimace fit Grinder to a tee. I cut the cartoon so the dead clown looked like he had a tentpole erection, changing the tone of the cartoon considerably.

During a recent trip through the store, Grinder saw it and became infuriated once again. He tore everything down, cussed and sputtered and let Dr T know that “he was not happy.”

Me: “Which one was he, Grumpy?” Obviously I wasn’t taking this matter seriously enough.

As the night wore on, I got more and more irritated with the whole situation. I went through the area, removing any ‘funny stuff.’ I took down the headline “Blow Hole” that was hidden on the side of the porno rack. I removed the picture of the cheeseburger that had Joel Przybilla’s head resting on top. I had to leave some evidence, so I left the pictures of the slackjawed sheep chasing Sarah Palin with a chainsaw.

Yeah, maybe I do have too much time on my hands.

This means YOU!

As I’m quietly acquiescing, the phone rings and it’s Grinder. He lectures me about some paperwork question that wasn’t answered to his satisfaction. As I sit, anger rising, I begin to doodle on an old receipt. I draw the screaming head of a Marine drill sergeant with a giant throbbing blue vein on his forehead, saying “No fun allowed! This means you!” I attached it to the new sanitizer dispenser. (The mysterious disappearance of the previous one is still unsolved, but I’d bet it was because a disgruntled employee lost his shit for a minute or twenty and pried it off the wall and smashed it to tiny bits, thus feeling much better. Just a guess, ahem.) I snapped a picture, because I’d bet big dollars it wouldn’t be there when I got to work the next day.

I was right.

According to Dr T, he saw the drawing, tore it down and said, “He just doesn’t know when to quit, does he?” Then he got quiet.

The next night, I neither doodled or defaced anything. My duty sheet was initialed, with my initials, written as small as humanly possible and still be recognizable. I wanted to do something more, but what?

Grinder saves reward points from a certain major soft drink company. I found a good one and set it aside. I was about to write a “Why don’t you love me anymore?” note, complete with boo-boo-faced cartoon, when I found something better: A coupon for a free quarter-pound hot dog fron a national convenience store chain we both once worked for. I stapled it to the rewards note, drew a smiley face and a “Hi!” and stashed it amongst the credit card receipts. He’d either love me or kill me.

As I prepped to start my last day of the work week, Dr T took me aside. “Grinder is glad you’ve finally learned your lesson. He likes the little tiny initials and appreciates that you didn’t ‘modify’ anything last night. He also thanks you for the reward points, but says as your superior he can’t in good conscience eat the hot dog while thinking of you. It would constitute sexual harassment.”

“Duly noted. Now that I’ve learned my lesson…”

“About what? asked Dr T.

“About whatever, I guess.”

Yesterday, as I passed work on my way home, I ran into Grinder. “You and I know each other too well. If I didn’t love you I’d have to kill you.”

“I know, daddy.” I gave him a side hug. “Merry fucking Christmas, and may next year’s weenie be even bigger!”

The color rose in his cheeks, he choked back an “Aughh!” then turned and headed off upon his appointed rounds.

Yeah, I’m still gently poking at the bear with a stick…

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