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February 19, 2024

Work Ethic

By Pavelle Wesser

Lester absently opened the office door, slamming it against the wall.

"Careful! That door is made of glass," Tommy whined from inside his cubicle.

Lester walked into his own cubicle, just beside Tommy's: "What's all this crap in my inbox?"

"Work I never got around to." Tommy appeared around the partition, crumbs all over his mouth.

"Nice breakfast, Tommy? Let me guess: Now it's time for your pill-popping fest."

"Oh, shut up!" Tommy disappeared. Moments later, Lester heard him: "Blue." Gulp. "Pink." Gulp. "White ... red ... grey ... yellow." Gulp, gulp, gulp. Loud snoring followed. Lester peeked around the partition to see Tommy face-down on his desk, drooling over legal documents.

"Hey, this isn't a rehab clinic." He yelled.

Tommy opened his red, puffy eyes: "I have to make a call." He picked up the phone.

"Hi, Mommy. It's me. Listen, I'm taking my medication daily and eating a healthy breakfast, but I'm still low on energy."

"You got a lot of nerve." Lester huffed.

"I can't hear you. What? Oh, OK, I'll try it. Love you. Bye." He hung up and glared at Lester.

"You'd better get to work now." Lester stomped back to his cubicle and started sorting through his inbox. He returned to dump a stack of papers on Tommy's desk.

"Knock first," quipped Tommy, who stood beside his desk, naked but for a jockstrap.

"What the Hell are you doing?"

"Changing! My mother said that jogging might energize me."

"Tommy, you can jog on your own time, not during work hours."

"Don't lecture!" Tommy pulled on his sweat suit and sprinted out of the office.

"This is bullshit." Lester threw down the papers. He picked up the phone and dialed personnel.

"I got a guy here who doesn't want to work. He's out jogging right now."

"Lock the door," the personnel director advised. "Don't let him back in."

Half an hour later Tommy returned and started pounding on the door. Lester wished it weren't made of glass so he wouldn't have to see the pathetic, red-faced fool.

"Open. Open. Open." Tommy yelled in a fury.

Lester did his best to ignore him. An hour later, Tommy was still pounding on the door. Lester sat at his cubicle and put in his earplugs. Opening his lunchbox, he laid out caviar and crackers, sausage and cheese, a bottle of red wine, and chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream for dessert.

He ate to the beat of the steady pounding on the door. After lunch, it was his head that pounded. He let if fall forward on his desk and fell into a deep and soundless sleep. He awoke to find that he'd drooled over important legal documents and missed numerous calls. Wiping off the documents, he placed them in Tommy's inbox. He thought of returning the business calls but instead rang up his sister who lived out-of-state and was currently going through a divorce. At 5:00 p.m., he unlocked the door and tried to sneak past Tommy, who sat in the corridor, crying. He'd vomited all over his new workout outfit, it appeared. As Lester tip-toed past, he lifted his face from his hands:

"You bastard! How could you do this to me?"

"OK," sighed Lester, "I'll give you one more chance. Tomorrow morning you come in early and deal with your inbox. You don't behave like a spoiled-rotten four-year-old and at the end of the day, we reassess your performance. Got it?"

Tommy staggered to his feet: "You have no right."

"See you tomorrow," Lester waved. The next morning, he carefully opened the office door and went to his cubicle.

"Blue ... red ... white ... grey ...yellow ..." Gulp, gulp, gulp.

"Could you keep it down, I'm on the phone." Lester yelled. "Hey, Sis, I was thinking about our conversation yesterday, and it occurred to me ..."

Across the partition, another conversation began taking place. "Hey, Mommy, guess what? I started jogging and I've already lost a pound. Can you believe it?"

Respective lunch boxes were opened. Tommy gushed over the strawberry parfait he'd purchased at the new plastic fantastic establishment as Lester's stomach gurgled at the sight of the anchovy slice he'd picked up at Napolitano's Pizza. Tommy took his afternoon nap and drooled over the same legal documents thrice drooled on during previous naptimes. Lester downloaded soft porn on his computer and mindlessly masturbated. Tommy donned a designer sweat suit and headed out for his afternoon jog. Lester sipped a Martini beside the fire, which consisted of various legal documents he'd ignited into flames with his cigarette lighter.

The fire department arrived along with the personnel director.

"You're on fire!" The firemen sprayed Lester with a hose.

"You're fired," the personnel director yelled.

Tommy jogged back into the office: "What's going on?"

The personnel director turned to him. "Lester's terminated, and you're taking his place."

"Yippppeeee!" Tommy whooped.

"You conniving, two-faced pipsqueak," Lester snarled drunkenly.

* * *

"It's all about work ethic," Tommy told the young woman sitting before him.

"Oh, totally," she sat very straight with her hands folded in her lap.

"But you need to understand that I have more privileges than you do."

"That's only fair, since you were here first."

"Remember: No personal calls; no eating at your desk; no leaving the premises without permission."

"Why would it be any other way?"

"You'd be surprised what some people think they can get away with in an office setting."

"Not me. No way!"

"Good. Can you start tomorrow?"

"Sure. Where's my cubicle?"

"Right next to mine; it's just the two of us in this department."


"I'll be leaving some important legal documents in your inbox. Please deal with them first thing in the morning."

"What should I do with them?"

"Don't matter, just don't drool on them."


"You'll learn the ropes soon enough."

She nodded and stood: "I'm really looking forward to working with you."

"And one more thing," said Tommy, as she focused her full attention on him, "this job really rocks."

She smiled and gave him the thumbs up before opening the glass door, which she inadvertently slammed against the wall: "Oops; sorry."

Article © Pavelle Wesser. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-03-03
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