Harpole Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cheated welders fired, but justice served on ‘Hot Check Murphy’

Part 1 of 3 creative ways to get fired from a job that you didn’t want to start with.

Now don’t misunderstand me, just because I was born lazy doesn’t mean that I don’t like to work. It’s just that I like to pick the job and the crew that makes toil and sweat worth the end result, pride of accomplishment. No matter how wormy the job is, if you “latch on to it” and do your “dead level best” to make it shine at least you’ll have prideful worms to show for it.

You see what I mean?

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Well if the job has been forced upon you, you have two options.

Stage No. 1: Say “to H8#% with it” and quit.

Or Stage No. 2:  Get fired in a creative manner. Number two has been in my experience a lot more fun. The following story does not directly concern me except for the fact that John Donald, a childhood friend of mine, got me a job (which I liked and wanted to keep) with a company that for one reason or another had stepped on his last hairy nerve.

Which forced him into stage No. 2, creative resignation. I was fired myself. The official report on this was wishy-washy, as most reports are. Report A listed “Guilt by association.” Report B described “Laughing too hard at the boss.”

 Report B applied.

We were contracted to refurbish a grainery on Mud Island, a river shipping port in Memphis. We were putting in 60 hours a week, burning #7018 welding rods in the sweltery and sweaty month of July.

We were working against a deadline which was pre-designed to deny us our bonus. It was later proven to me that the actual deadline was actually two weeks past the date we were informed was the deadline. Naturally the company/contractor would work us past the supposed deadline, finish the job and deny us our bonus.

Somehow or another Ol’ John Donald got the goods on them rats and took appropriate action. Ol’ J.D. told me later that he had busted his skull for a month trying to come up with a revenge plan and came up short for 29 days.

Miraculously the solution presented itself out of the clear blue sky. It was, he half-ashamedly mentioned, right there all the time. It just took a while for him to see it. An accident (almost).

Cut-throat enterprises (not the actual name of the company) was famous for paying the crew with rubber checks, and had become so proficient that the Feds showed up and confiscated your wages.

Well, it was noon on Friday. We were going to cash our checks (hopefully) before the bank examiners busted the boss and snatched our checks.

We felt it to be in our best interests to force (coerce, threaten, demand) the boss to accompany us to the bank of the week.

I won’t go into the particular details, but note the measure of our desperation. Most of us were married and some of us had children. Picture yourself in the position of having been missing and presumed working for a week or so (out of sight of your significant other) and there is no paycheck!

The first thing that will scream through her heretofore contented skull is that you have been faking a job with the help of your crooked friends and spending your days in a strip joint on Airways or worse.

Thank heaven that J. D. got us fired before it came to that. Here is how it went:

On the way to the bank we had to negotiate a railroad crossing. Working his way through traffic, John Donald noticed an idling locomotive about 60 feet from the signal crossing. He said not a word and neither myself or that greedy old thief we were working for paid any attention. I was too concerned about the cashability of ol’ Murphy’s hot checks. Murphy himself was probably worried about the Feds showing up while he was on the premises.

We managed to get the payroll without any incident somehow and hit a Wendy’s for our lunch.

On the way back to the island, J. D. noticed the locomotive was in the same spot, only this time it was on “Hot Check Murphy’s” side of the truck.

Murphy was about elbow deep in that bowl of Wendy’s chili when John Donald hit the brakes on the centerline while blowing the horn on the truck and screaming, “OH, NO!” As he gestured frantically at the benign though ominnous-looking engine.

Ol’ Murphey’s response was to harmonize John Donald’s “OH, NO!” while pitching the bowl of chili all over the ceiling and windshield of the truck. He was relieved to discover that the whole episode was just another of John Donald’s tricks.

However, he had also relieved himself in the process, right into his Levi’s and into both boots as well. I could have kept my position with the company if I hadn’t been so honest with laughter that I could not contain.

The jokes that arose from the event carried way past the demise of the company that no longer employed us.

Such as: “What’s the weather like today?”

“Like Murphy’s windshield, clear and chili.”

Or, “What is that awful smell, are those your boots?”

“Well, it can’t be mine, it’s urine.”