I probably should have realized that the week was going to be a little different from the usual when I was rudely & abruptly awoken from my deep sleep on Monday morning before 5 AM by the telephone.
I fumbled around spastically in the dark looking for the damn phone and finally found it in my pants pocket, of course only after stubbing my toe on my bedside table. I was already in a foul mood before I even yelled 'Hello' into the phone.
The voice on the other end of the line announced he was calling from London, England (he claimed he was unsure of the time zone difference - the liar!) Apparently he was the Human Resources Manager with the company that had bought out the European division from my previous employer (the one that had laid me off in June).
I informed the caller, Mister 'I think the world is all on one time zone - mine' Pinhead, that we were 7 hours behind in Calgary and it was only 5 AM here. After listening to some very phoney apologies he finally came around to the point of his call.
He wanted to know if I would be interested in taking my old job back in London. Evidently my layoff was customary in a corporate buyout however it was an oversight on their side that a new job offer had not been presented to me right away. He once again began a new phoney apology on that subject and without me responding at all, proceeded to ramble on about the new ownership and how visionary they are.
I listened patiently for about 5 minutes until this 'Pinhead' finally had tired himself out from spewing out all his corporate rhetoric & propaganda and then I calmly asked that if it was simply an oversight not to offer me a job, why it took them 6 months to figure this out before they are correcting it. (I already knew from keeping in contact with my former coworkers, that the reason was that they had hired someone to replace me and it apparently did not work out. I did not let this weasel know that fact however as I wanted to hear it from him.)
Pinhead claimed he did not know why there was a delay however he said that in many of the companies corporate takeovers that some jobs get lost 'between the cracks', but they always find them. He then once again apologized for this 'mix-up' that he assured me was not the typical operations of the company.
I had only spoken to this guy for like ten minutes and he had spent nearly half the time either lying to me or apologizing about something. I did not get a good vibe at all from this guy and his monotone voice began to bore and irritate me. I finally snarled 'not interested' into the phone and hung up, right in the middle of his spiel on health benefits and their employee wellness campaign.
'Ridiculous' I muttered to myself yawning aloud, as I tossed the phone down and went back to bed. What a crappy way to start my week!
Just after 9 AM, the phone rang again. This was becoming a very annoying & unwelcome routine. Especially for a man like myself who usually stays up late having a few drinks and enjoys sleeping in. These calls this early must stop . I must nip this this filthy problem in the bud. Nip it, I say. I would make short work out of this rude caller.
Thankfully I did not yell into the phone as the caller on the other end this time was Mr. Andrews, the Vice-President of my old company and one of the very few people I have a high respect for.
After a few formalities and general chat, as is customary with Mr. Andrews he got directly to the point.
"I know how things ended for you over in London and I apologize for that." he began. "How they handled things was not within our control however we had an agreement that after 6 months we could negotiate with any staff who they chose not to retain. That is why I am calling this morning. Six months is up and we have fulfilled our end of the sellers' agreement. I am prepared to offer you a job today, if you are interested."
I was completely taken off guard by both this telephone call and the unexpected job offer and told Mr. Andrews that I would come down later that morning to see if we could work out a deal and discuss things.
Wow, when it rains it pours! I have been unemployed since returning home for the past 6 months and then suddenly out of the blue I get two job offers in the span of three hours. Sweet! (in reality though, I should be honest and let you know that I have not applied nor even looked for a single job since returning to Calgary. The wages as well as my severance package from London was extremely lucrative and I had decided to not really look around until the new year. I had just been enjoying life and taking it easy since returning home, despite my fathers continual assertions that I was becoming a professional vagrant).
The meeting with Mr. Andrews was like the ones I had always remembered & been accustomed to. Get in, state your case and get out. His time was valuable and he treated everyone as if theirs were as well.
We essentially agreed on a ongoing 3 month contracting cycle. I like to think of myself as a great negotiator however I think it was his idea before we even began to make this a very generous contract. I kept my 'poker face' on the entire time so as not to let on I was extremely happy with our deal.
I was so pleased as I left the meeting I figured I would stop by my folks place to share the good news and also to get my father to stop hassling me every day.
When I arrived I noticed that my stupid sisters' car was parked out front. Damn! I never want to see her as all she does is continually try and stir up trouble between me and our parents. She still acts like she is a kid sometimes, which is kind of sad since she is married with two young kids of her own, Mikey who is 8 and little Emma who is just 1. She should be home with them instead of undoubtedly gossiping the afternoon away with my mother.
As I opened the front door my ears perked up instantly as I overheard my sister finishing a statement saying "...he is completely irresponsible and now young Mikey is learning from him."
Damn! There was only one person in the world which she speaks about so negative & disrespectfully and that is yours truly. Yep, me! Well I would certainly put an end to this right here and now.
I quickly walked into the kitchen where my sister, Dad and Mom were all sitting at the table. They immediately went silent as their gaze fell upon me.
"Good Afternoon All" I announced in a extremely loud & cheery voice. I am known to always take the high road when adversity appears.
"It's my son, the 'hobo in training'." Dad replied, cackling aloud at his own joke. "What gives us the honour of seeing you on a Monday afternoon when no food or meal is being served up here today?"
Before I could respond, Sis quickly added "Yeah, did the bar shut down early or did the strippers forget to show up? HA!HA!"
I let her comment slide off me as I was in too good a mood to be dragged down to her juvenile level. I just smiled back at everyone and responded "Do I need a reason to visit my wonderful family?"
Dad eyed me somewhat suspiciously, but said nothing as I sat myself down between him and Sis. Before I could tell them my great news however, Sis spoke up in her usual annoying, whiney tone.
"I'm glad you're here, we have a bone to pick with you." Sis continued. "I got a call from the school this morning from Mikey's teacher, Mrs. Mallett. She had some concerns she wanted to share about Mikey. Apparently during class today when all the children were asked to stand up and tell everyone what they wanted to be when they grew up, Mikey announced that he wanted to be just like his uncle - retired young, go to the bar every day, play games and do nothing but just enjoy life."
"He got that from you." Mom interjected suddenly. "No mention of the word 'work' at all, it is something you must have said to him. That's not good. You know how impressionable children at that age are."
I actually had no idea how 'impressionable children at that age were' but I assumed this was a rhetorical question that did not require any further response from me.
Sis then continued. "And then when Mrs. Mallett asked Mikey why he did not want a job like all the other children before he retired, Mikey responded that 'retirement was wasted on the old and in most cases they are too sick and feeble to enjoy life by retirement age. It should be for the younger people to have fun."
I then suddenly recalled that this past Saturday afternoon Sis asked me to watch Mikey for an hour so she dropped him off at my place. My buddy John was over and he jokingly asked me how I was enjoying 'retired life' as I had not been working. Mikey must have overheard me respond to this and not realized I was kidding around. (thank goodness he did not remember that I actually said 'play games like 'hide the sausage' with those two waitresses down at the pub' or I would be not be around to tell you this story today!). But everything else, his brain recorded it all perfectly. I could understand why I was now in the family bad books!
Dad then sounding quite agitated asked "Do you think I am too old and feeble to enjoy retirement? You better shape up, boy. If not for yourself then as an example to your nephew. He looks up to you. When I was your age I had two jobs working 8 hours at each one, plus married and raising you two kids. Isn't that right, Dear?"
"Don't embellish, Simon." Mom responded calmly. "You have made your point, you don't need to continue with stretching the truth."
"I don't know why Mikey even looks up to you." Sis chimed in. "You are a terrible role model but for some reason he always talks about you. You're completely irresponsible. You do nothing all day but lay around and then go out to all hours of the night. Just an unemployed drunken bum."
That was it. I could take both of my parents chiding but there was no way in 'Hell' I would take it from my sister. Not her of all people.
"Ok, I get it." I began. "I admit making a few statements which unfortunately Mikey heard and picked up on out of context. I apologize for that, I take complete responsibility for that and I will talk with him later and correct things."
"I came by this afternoon to let you all know that I have a new job starting next week. I wanted to ask Mom and Dad to be my guests out for a nice Chinese food dinner this evening. I won't include Sis in my invitation since she is probably on a diet or clearly really needs to be. Anyway, she's got more 'chins' then Chinatown from what I can see from here. HAHA!!"
Before Sis could lash out at me with one of her really lame retorts, Dad smacked me on the back and yelled out "Congratulations Boy! We all knew you would come through. Just needed a bit of prodding."
"Yes Dear" Mom exclaimed. "We are all very pleased for you and would love to go out for a dinner this evening. What a kind and generous treat."
Sis just sat there looking even more repulsive than normal with a huge scowl on her large face. Then she suddenly spoke bitterly under her breath.
"It's not fair, he wanders through life in a complete drunken haze and women, jobs and money just fall into his lap. It's not fair, the rest of us have to work hard for everything, but not him."
Mom quickly turned to Sis and announced 'Now don't begrudge your brother, dear. It has been a difficult time for him being out of work for so long. He just puts on a brave face but I know. Be happy for him, you'll get yours one day."
"Yes" I thought to myself. "Sis will 'get hers' all right however getting even with that crazy Byatch is way down on my list at this point. There would always be time for that later. For now I just wanted to enjoy the moment of getting a new job, celebrate and of course, watch my sister be miserable as a result of it. Life can be sweet at times!"