The warehouse itself was like a living, breathing entity. Built on Auto Row sometime near the beginning of the 20the century it was a creaky old building with no air conditioning, stuck in the corner between North Oakland and Shadyside, it housed a bindery, a printing press company and us, the party goods warehouse. Across the street was a mini-mart and next to that one of the strip bars i frequented often back in those day, those days being around 97-98. The warehouse was oppressively hot in the summer, shitty cold in the winter and almost comfortable in the spring and fall, this story though is about the summer and a fat kid and me, Mephistopheles, the devil as my overweight co-worker would soon come to call me...
When Junior arrived in the place i knew we had trouble, see i was a the longest tenured of the low-lifes in the joint other than my manager, in fact i had lasted longer than anyone else who'd ever worked there mainly because the owner paid slightly higher than slave wages and i had a nice side gig slinging grass, the fact i was more than competent doing this grunt work helped the owner and my manager overlook the fact that i came in to work stoned on a daily basis, it also helped them look past the fact that i was often ridiculously hungover and called off regularly fridays, not every friday mind you but my record was 7 out of 8 at one point, but this Junior character, the poor sap would become the focus of my anger...
Junior had moved from the eastern half of Pa. to move in with a girl he had met on the internet, a girl who worked in the company's front office and had procured him a job, he was fat and round and loved Styx, he reeked of white-bread chickenshit motherfucker and after a few days i knew i had hit the nail on the proverbial head, not only that but he was all about work and trying to be Mr. Kiss-ass Brownnoser and it fucking irked me, i had this gig figured good and knew exactly how long it took to do shit, my math being of the variety that nothing was that urgent which gave ample time to fucking off and playing air-guitar and reading the paper, it's not that i have a shit work ethic (which i probably do) it's just i'm all about a fair days work for a fair days pay and since i wasn't making more than 7 bucks an hour at the time by my calculations i was good for about four or five hours tops, this twat was not about to fuck that up...
See if you've never worked in one warehouses can be cruel places, it's beastly and primordial and you need to watch your ass or you might get jumped in the parking lot, the mental cruelty can be even worse and it's a never ending barrage of insults about anything and everything, Junior wanted to be liked but he was such a coddled piece of shit that wasn't about to happen, he stood for everything i despised, he was comfortable and naive, he was baseball and apple pie, he fucking loved Wal-Mart and thought it was neat that he had finally moved out of mom and dad's basement to play house with a girl he met on-line, he wore Lee Jeans and played Dungeons and Dragons and me being the original hipster hated him with a passion. He also had this strange way of waddling around and a tic in his shoulder, this little shrug like movement he would do, i soon mastered both the walk and the tic and the other guys in the warehouse (there were 4 of us plus the manager) would laugh hysterically when i walked behind him aping him, see i was a cruel and vindictive asshole and i knew it, this poor kid didn't know what he got himself into...
He was named after his dad, hence the the nickname Junior that i gave him shortly after he started, of course the other nickname i bestowed upon him was Butt-Gut due to the fact his belly looked like it had an ass crack, yes i know i'm an asshole i live with myself, he was on the outs from the start and part of that had to do with his personality and demeanor which helped all the guys he worked with to dislike him, hence he was always looking for acceptance particularly from me and me being the evil, conniving fucker that i was saw opportunity and jumped at it...
It was one of those days in the warehouse we described as Africa hot, humid and shitty and not much better outside the doors, i had had a lucrative week at my real job and figured we could use some entertainment, i started being nice to Junior, then joking with him, the other guys kept glancing at me wondering what was up, see Junior loved to talk about how much he could eat so i jokingly told him i didn't think he could eat six death dogs (our name for the hot dogs sold at the mini-mart), he of course sensing acceptance and a chance to be on of the boys jumped on it. Hell he laughed i could eat 10 i bet, really i grinned back, sure he said, well how bout this then Junior, i'll buy the 10 dogs and give you a ten bucks if you finish 'em in half an hour but if you don't or you puke you owe me for the dogs and a tenner. He mulled this over for a split second and said deal. By this time the other guys had joined in and my manager had thrown in another 10 bucks and off we went across the street to get the hot dogs. Of course once there i planted the seed that there was no way he could eat them with chili and cheese and that i'd add another fiver if he could, he grinned and said you wait and i walked to the coolers and got a Gatorade and when i returned his ten dogs were ready, ten hot dogs with chili, cheese, jalapenos and onions. All i could do was smile.
Back in the stifling confines of the warehouse our hero went at his dogs with gusto, the first five went down no problem but round about number 7 he started to look a little flushed and sweat started pouring down his face, of course we all sat at the table laughing and pointing, me yelling don't you puke motherfucker or it's 25 bucks, my manager laughing, my co-worker T-bag, a young Italian kid screaming and making vomit noises and Junior sweating it out and downing #9, taking a deep breath and going at #10. When he was finished he looked green and we all kept asking him when he was going to puke. I feel fine, he said and since he was so confident i told him i'd give him $5 more if he could do twenty jumping -jacks and not puke, no problem he said, the crew stood and watching his gut bouncing and him wheezing as we laughed hysterically, T-bag shouted i'll give you a quarter for every one you do after the twenty, Junior stood laughing and sweating and saying no problem i feel fine and continued to do jumping jacks. Then we offered him a dollar for every push up he could do and watched as he did the worst push-ups we'd ever seen as we absolutely howled with laughter, by this time his face was flushed and we had to get back to work, had to load up vans and do deliveries and on this day he would get the red van with the black interior, no air conditioning, sauna hot on a sizzling day, he went out to the parking lot and backed it down and i looked at the other guys and said, i'll load him up.
We'd cram three or four skids worth of stuff into these vans and it was pretty physical and it sucked worse if the guy loading you up was throwing shit at you faster than you could stack it up, especially when said guy was asking how you felt and reminding you that if you threw up you had to give all that money back double, the rest of the crew stood behind me snickering and lobbing comments towards poor old Junior who didn't look to be doing good but managed to get his van loaded and sip some water and drive off.
It was about an hour or two later when we got a call from one of the stores asking us what he did to Junior. My manager of course called us all over and put the call on speaker phone and asked why? the girl at the store said he'd been in the bathroom for about 45 minutes puking his guts out, so loud you could hear him in the store, loud enough that they asked if he was alright and he said yeah that he had swallowed a bug on the drive in... of course we erupted in gales, my co-workers patting me on the back and calling me the evil genius, T-bag commenting about how i sucked him right into it by being his buddy this morning, i'll admit i was a prick, a 27 year old bastard, back then i was running through the jungle on a daily basis, i was the lion and Junior was the lamb and the lion didn't give a fuck about anything but the lion...
When Junior pulled into the lot the whole crew ran up to the dock, T-bag pointing and laughing, the other guys milling around and watching and me in the background grinning, i didn't say a thing, let the other guys harass him, saw that he had puked so hard that he'd busted capillaries in his face, stuck to his story that he'd swallowed what he thought was a bee driving down the highway and that's why he threw-up, asked if he could go home early, the crew stood laughing and i walked away, my work was done, Junior went to the bathroom and threw water on his face and when he came out i stopped him, no i didn't apologize, i told him he didn't eat any fucking bee, told him in was in a charitable mood and would let him keep the money, he began to stammer something and i told him he puked because he's a fool, i hope you learned something i said, he stood for a second pondering what i'd told him, i learned you're the devil he said quietly, i smiled at him and walked away.
I think I need another sweet one about your kiddos after this one, to remind me that maybe you're an alright guy after all.
reminds me of the tale of the pie eating contest from "Stand By Me"... and that you are not a man to be fucked with.
Sometimes you've got to be cruel to be... well, cruel really.
Junior was a fucking idiot, though. I think you taught him some great lessons that day!
there's one of those guys in every crowd. oh how i wish i could just once be the asshole...
Oh Kono I don't know what to say. I've never understood that urge to be cruel to someone just because they're a douchebag.
My favourite story of yours was the one about the man you gave your gloves to.....
All hail Satan!
Do you know what? I feel sorry for the kid. I was picked on and know what it's like to be on the receiving end of that treatment. But I don't judge. Anymore.
Seriously, you know how much cooler it would have been if he threw up, came back, and laughed and was like, "fuck you asshole, you got me, I puked all over that place," and then tried to shake your hand? You guys would be, like, best buds now. Sure, you're a dick, but he's an idiot for listening to you.
I have a rule about pity: never feel sorry for people because of the decisions they make.
I feel amused and ashamed.
I wish I could combine the two into one word. What word would that be?
DofW- i'm really not that alright but i try real hard sometimes.
Daisy- so if Jr. was Jerry O'Connell who do i get to be? why am i thinking River?
Sybil- there is much truth in that statement.
Twin- Unfortunately there is one in every crowd... or workplace.
Nurse- it was more that he threatened my way of life, my work environment was enjoyable until he came along and it's warts and all here, sometimes i can be far less than a decent human being, we all can and if we don't face up to it we are lying to ourselves.
Ross Man- Gracias Mr. Hassler.
UB- with this kid even when you tried to be nice he'd end up being a bit of an asshole but i understand where you're coming from and 10-15 years on i've tried to become more tolerant of these types and he was fucking up my gig a bit.
Rassles- Maybe not best buddies but he'd have earned some respect which would have made his life a bit easier.
JMH- Amamed...Ashumed? nothing really works.
No, nothing does. Lousy language.
You were so bad. Yet...you wrote the story and posted it. I know, from the other things you've written, that you have a heart as big as day.
We are, none of us, angels, and all of us could write some similar tale. I do love your stories.
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