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Friday, Jun. 02, 2006
Despite the fact that I chose to work for the Man, with medicare deductions and everything, there is one non-negotiable thing that I abhor above all others.

I refuse to be happy about waiting on a jobsite, with the motor running and tools at hand, upon the promised delivery of long awaited material. Whether or not I’m being paid for waiting. By the hour.

Does that make sense, or is it applicable to other jobs at large? Let’s see.

You’re an administrator of a bookkeeping service, charged with the dead nuts delivery of a 3 million dollar set of annual books from a local company to the IRS, with your review at the end. Penalties apply, you’ve got an ironclad contract for performance but nothing much is said about the delivery of figures from the host. It’s supposed to be a given, not much happens without the information itself, right? And the date comes, and goes.

You’re charged with the delivery of a polished set of specifications to the Gobberment. Dates have been sent and established. The wiggle in “wiggle room” amounts to the thickness of skin on a soldier ant in a ten thousand ant colony. Suddenly, someone disappears due to the celebration of her nephews Bar Mitzphah and two weeks worth of work is castrated into the yawning of “But . . . I had this scheduled for months?”

Similarly to these more noble professions, the pursuit of above adequate wood products by earnest spenders of construction cash demands delivery within strict time frames, somewhat after the plumber but yon before the painter. Flow charts, you know.

When I find myself with feet dangling over the rear bumper of the Outfoxed work truck at 1:15 pm, fixated on the delivery of certain stuffs on or about 2 pm, the mind wanders dark and impatient.

Lessee, I get the stuff I’ve been waiting for all day at 2 pm. It’s a four to five hour install, therefore I ought to be out of here not one minute later than too late for dinner. Gee, won‘t Ally be proud?

The old saying goes “I work for a living, I don’t live to work.” Which is what I was repeating to the job superintendent yesterday, as he glanced at his watch for perhaps the tenth time in an hour and growled, “That wood better be here within the next five minutes or else.”

“Or else we can leave?”, I piped up brightly.

In the old days this wouldn’t have even been an issue. If the Outfoxed Crew had been summoned to a jobsite and material didn’t show up by 7:01 am, the day would be over before it began, and drinking and other merriment would commence. Many’s the customer who was schooled in this regard, the old ‘No tickee? No laundry!’ syndrome. And they learned, yes indeedy they did, to have a pile of glistening product awaiting the voracious saws of the Crew by sunrise if they expected to see our shiny faces at all.

But working for the Man is different. “Go on down to this here job and we’ll have such and such delivered just as soon as possible.” Which of course means as soon as twenty other things are done, and hence the mid-afternoon stand-off with the superintendent.

Maybe it’s just me. I hate to wait, hate standing around impotent without anything to do. Yesterday I spent hours sorting through the contents of my truck, moving a keg of nails over here, a drill bit over there. On the payroll of course, but feeling like someone dispatched to a place just to see if I could find ways to amuse myself for (8) hours.

A lot of folks would relish this. “What are you complaining about? You’re getting paid for this aren’t you?” And these are exactly the folks who could never work for me as an employee. The sort who pace their days with coffee breaks, lunch, quitting time at a precise hour. The sort who, without being able to explain why, live to work. Live for the routine, and sucking money from an employer whether they’re productive or not, and Friday is payday and then we’ll be happy, by God.

I went into this job, this working for the Man with a sort of teeth clenched promise to myself that I’d suck it up, be a non-complainer and just roll through the day regardless of the inevitable corporate screw-up. That I shouldn’t expect too much of people who hire the hired gun without knowing how fast he can shoot.

But I’ve been an outlaw for too long. And old habits die hard.

So when 2 pm came and went without the delivery, and calls to the office were met with high pitched squealing, I pitched the tool belt into the truck and waved at the superintendent, who rolled his eyes in frustration. “You outta here?” he wondered.

“Yep, I do be outta here,” I said.

“Gee, if you hung around until 3, you’d make eight hours for the day, wouldn’t you?”

I grinned at him as I climbed into the cab, and it was an outlaw grin. “Yeah, and I could say it was 8 wasted hours, instead of 7. That should make me feel ever so much better come Judgment Day, eh?” The Oakleys dropped into place and the big V-8 was brought to life.

“See you tomorrow, lad.” And that was that.

I’d be willing to bet that come tomorrow, I’ll have materials.

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