tagHumor & SatireThe Bosses Lunch Hour

The Bosses Lunch Hour


The names of the guilty have been changed, to protect me from getting sued

The first shift supervisor for network operations, had filled me in on the scuttlebutt about our new Site Manager, Jimmy. Whose good friend and angel was Sam a Senior VP at the conglomerate headquarters located in a large Mid-Western city.

During the Korean War, Jimmy saves the life of Sam at least a couple of times. They become very good friends. Years later Sam is an important Vice President at a nation-wide computer networking corporation. Jimmy goes to his old buddy Sam and inveigles a job out of him.

Well, it turns out that Jimmy really wasn't qualified for any of several positions, Sam had him try out. Plus, Jimmy not only had a drinking problem but he also thought his important job titles and Sam's protection gave him free reign to sexually harass all the women subordinates he had access to.

In an old-fashioned corporation like this, accessing the secretarial pool for extra-curricular activities was considered an executive perk as important as a a liberal expense account, lucrative stock options and a Company car. Or for the muckety-mucks, a Corporate provided limousine service.

Eventually the EEOC regulations would catch up and kick down the door to this Old Boys Club but that was at least a decade in the future. From the alumni newsletter they still send me for only-God-knows-why. The photos of the senior executives still look pretty old-male and as white as the driven you-know-what.

Finally Sam found Jimmy a safe position, where he couldn't cause any real damage to the bottom line. Jimmy was made Site Manager for the 24/7, regional computer network operations center I was working at.

Basically, he was being paid to show up late in the morning after recovering from his previous night's drunk. His Assistant SM and the Department Supervisor's would let him know if there was any business Jimmy needed to inform his bosses in St. Louis. That done, it was time for him to go to lunch.

Jimmy had two different kinds of lunches. Most often, he would meet with his drinking buddies at their favorite bar and we wouldn't see him again until the next morning.

Maybe once or twice a week or two, he would pick out one of the women working in the building and take her out to lunch and fuck. Then he'd go meet up with his drinking buddies at his favorite bar and we wouldn't see him until the next morning. The woman was expected to make her own way back to work or get docked a half-day's pay.

This was well before ubiquitous cell-phones. Yeah, I know, the Late Paleolithic. We were stuck with relying on beepers. If it happened once, it was a hundred times I'd be awaken by the damn thing going off to encourage me to phone in to third shift operations and talk the under-trained snot-nosed kid stuck on that shift how to do an emergency reboot of the system.

Years later, my wife removed the bedroom telephone {remember when they had wires?} cause she got tired of being rudely awakened when one of her drunken family would call to get bailed out of jail, again.

It wasn't the drunken calls she minded, she'd just hang up on them and go back to sleep.

No, what chafed her nerves was the instant the phone rang, I would sit straight up from a deep sleep and automatically scream. "Reboot the System!" Loudly. Very loudly. Neighbors a block over would complain to her the next day.

I had been so conditioned to yell into the phone. Attempting to verbally communicate with the ignorant schmuck who was calling from a very noisy computer room with all the mechanical equipment, hammer-printers, noisy air conditioning, loudly beeping warning signals, etc..

Remember the old analog signal phones? I still say they sound better than the modern digital crap but if there was any noise in the background, you were fucked trying to communicate.

At the beginning of November we got the official word, Corporate had smacked down our hopes for yearend bonuses for anyone under the rank of Manager. Our hard work was obviously irrelevant compared to the needs of the upper executives for tooling around in the latest model limousines. Gotta keep those priorities straight!

I was sitting around the bleak environs of the break-room with maybe a half-dozen other people from the different departments. We were desultorily trying to come up with some way to squeeze out the funds for a Christmas Party. This room had all the charm and comforts of a prison cafeteria. Except we priso...uhh...employees had the privilege of serving ourselves our own bag lunches. If some asshole hadn't already stolen it.

I was talking with one of the electricians who had been running wiring and cables over the ceilings and under the removable tile flooring all across the building.

I mentioned that a couple of weeks ago, I was told to hunt down obsolete gearing we needed to replace in the old hammer-printers we still used. Cause God forbid we get anything as modern as a crank mimeograph. And don't even think about requisitioning a Xerox copier!

Corporate management would have an apoplectic fit at receiving such a reckless and outrageously selfish purchase order.

The manufacturers were long out of business and their distributors had cleaned out their warehouses of all parts for the hammer-printers many years before. All of us forced to rely on those damn antiques, were only keeping them going by cannibalizing malfunctioned printers for replacement parts. And obviously that was a dwindling breed with imminent extinction looming.

The electrician I told this to, casually mentioned that he'd had a hell of a time running some cabling through a blocked off storage area at the back of our building.

I was curious, cause we didn't have any building plans. Everything had been done ad hoc, driven to Rube Goldberg solutions to immediate system problems over many years. So he and I with a couple of the more muscular kids from the customer service phone bank, went hunting for access to the storage area. Aside from clambering through the ceiling ducts like a cliched spy thriller.

We found a door covered up by racks of magnetic-tapes.{they glued iron filings onto plastic tape then...never mind, I see your eyes glazing over already} While the boys were earning their medical disability claims, I went outside and found a rolling door in back behind some bushes and small trees. Not even the gardeners had been there for a long time.

Back inside, I found the two boys wheezing and heaving as if they had just bucked a flatbed of wet, green alfalfa bales in the desert noon sun! Jeez, they've had the good fortune to labor in air conditioning, for crying out loud. But they had managed to move enough of the racks to get to the inner door. And my new pal the electrician was, if you'll pardon the expression, jimmying it open for me.

There was only a tight pathway through all the shelving and dumped gear. I knew this ops center had been here for more then thirty years, at that time. Evidently over the decades all the broken and obsolete and defuncted equipment had just been rudely shoved in here, helter & skelter. I didn't see any inventory tags or manifests. That means none of this was carried on our site inventory or included in equipment audits.

Hot damn! I chortled to myself, we could probably get this hauled out of here for scrap and make a few bucks to pay for our Christmas party. I went and got my boss, while the electrician and the boys went back to their jobs.

With some big flashlights, the two of us squeezed our way through all the junk to try and figure out at least a rough idea of what was in here. Thats when I lucked into a couple of hammer-printers. Older models but the parts should still fit our present machines. One thing my boss noted was the volume of card-punch machinery. We probably haven't used it since the sixties.

My boss and I met with the Asst. Site Manager and a couple of the older engineers to talk about our find. No, we didn't bother Jimmy or Corporate with such a trivial detail as truckloads of off-the-books scrap iron. We all agreed to be greedy, for our-ears-only, a nod and a wink and Bobs your uncle! Righto old bean?

The next day the gardeners cleared out the bushes and trees blocking the outer door and we were finally able to cut the rusting locks and rolling it up, letting the sunlight in for the first time in who-the-hell-knows how long. One of the older engineers, who could actually remember using card-punch calculators. Had the stunned look that must'a been similar to the guys who'd broken into King Tut's tomb.

It took us a couple of weeks (on top of the monotony of all our regular work, interspersed with a slew of unscheduled tasks and emergencies) to get a rough listing of what we had. We retrieved what we knew we would be needing to save, such as the old hammer-printers and some other still usable gear.

I suggested, that instead of selling this to a scrap dealer for the measly few bucks he'd offer us, we put a small blurb in the local Pennysaver offering surplus computer and card-punch equipment at cash & carry auction. The area we were in, was a couple of square miles of small factories and specialty machine shops and a slew of assorted businesses of every conceivable type.

By sheer coincidence I am sure, that turned out to be the weekend that our SM Jimmy would be in Los Vegas with the other regional executives. Suffering through the tedium of a Corporate sponsored junket to the casinos and shows.

That Saturday morning, nobody showed up for the first hour or two. I know I was getting anxious and it was a relief when two or three guys every half-hour or so would stop by, take a gander at what we were offering then leave with unenthusiastic expressions. Must have been a bunch of poker players cause after One that afternoon they all came back in one mad rush!

I was poleaxed at the sudden, fierce bidding that broke out. Especially for the card-punch equipment. Now that baffled me until one of the bidders told me that a number of the little shops still ran the old machines and needed them for parts. That I could sympathize with! Somebody even more obsolete then we were, who'd have thought it?

Some of the bidders were shouting and cursing at each other. A few hotheads got into scuffles and even a fistfight over the bidding.

Finally more than half was gone and so were the bidders. We realized that what was left was truly junk and accepted a small bid from a scrap dealer to clear the remnants out for us. Better his aching back then mine!

Now I didn't handle the money collected but I understand altogether we earned over six thousand dollars if I remember correctly. {mid 1970's dollars} We had enough to give every employee at this site a Thanksgiving turkey and a ham for Christmas.

Pay for our Site Christmas party at a very nice hotel, including a dance band and a lavish buffet for all the employees and their spouses or dates and stuffed stockings for each small child and a pair of movie tickets for each of the teenagers. {I think it was either "The Empire Strikes Back" or "Jaws 2"? don't remember which.} The hard part was arranging that everybody from all three shifts were scheduled a few hours at the party.

There was no bar, it was decided that alcohol would interfere with the family festivities. When we put up the notices for the planned party, we told Jimmy that we had gotten together and put up a collection to pay for all of this. Events would prevent him showing up to present the employee awards. Even if he had, I'd doubt he'd have stuck around with no open bar offered.

All in all, considering no bonuses and then in a few weeks we were notified that we had been sold to some foreign conglomerate, that would eventually shut us down and lay us all off the next Summer. I gotta say that this party had been one of the best holiday events I ever experienced during my years of employment. I suspect it was because we'd taken the bull by the horns and laid that sucker in the dust with our own initiative and hard work and avoiding any managerial interference.

I'm sure the Stock Market lost a hundred points across the board, when it was discovered that some employees had made their own happiness.

During our Site Christmas party. No one would have dreamed of calling it a "Holiday" party. They'd be accused of being some "damn hippie commie!"

I was seated at a table with my wife and network co-workers and their spouses or dates. With my back to another table with the data-entry clerks and their significant others.

If I remember correctly both tables emptied as people went to dance or hit the buffet or enmass to the Ladies Lounge except for two of the women data-entry clerks. Who were seated right behind me with their backs to me.

They were snickering over that Jimmy and his wife hadn't shown up for the party. The Asst. SM was stuck with doing the speeches and handing out awards.

Awards, meaningless pretty printing on quality paper to hang on my wall to impress, nobody. Or as my wife said "The only real printed certificate of achievement is a printed bonus check!"

That's when I heard one of the women tell the other what she had been told by a friend of Jimmy's wife.

Jimmy and his wife, had a downtown condo, just a few blocks from where the Operations Center was located. His wife was usually gone most of the day. I think she worked for the City or something.

This time, for some stupid reason, instead of taking his latest fuckee to a motel, as was his usual practice. Jimmy brought her to his own condo for a quickee.

He and the woman decided to try sex in the shower. Well, so much for 'drop the soap' jokes! They must have slipped on something cause they fell hard, all tangled up.

She and Jimmy must have been screaming in pain like banshees in heat. The building manager overheard and called the police.

He let them into the apartment and they called for the paramedics. The building manager must have pegged Jimmy as a lousy tipper, cause he had also called Jimboy's wife.

Who got there as the paramedics were still trying to untangle the lusty if not intelligent pair, without causing them further orthopedic damage trying to get them out of the small shower-bath in a small bathroom.

Jimmy's wife was having a fit in the living room when she spotted the other woman's purse. She searched through it, found the work number for the other woman's husband. Then she called the excess husband and invited him to join the party at the hospital the randy couple were going to be transported too.

When he showed up soon after the arrival of the daring duo, he proceeded to add injurious insult to the injuries Jimmy already suffered, until some orderlies pulled him off till the cops could arrest him.

After this spectacular event, from what I heard later on via the office grapevine. The woman of course was fired, I don't know but I hope she was able to sue later. Jimmy was "permitted" to resign on the excuse there was a major shakeup coming to restructure the national network into a spinoff.

That spinoff was then sold to some unsuspecting foreign suckers, who paid too much to gain too little. Another one of Cousin Jonathan's practical jokes!

Sam of course, with the other senior executives, was permitted to retire with the proverbial golden handshake.

Once the new buyers discovered how out of date and obsolete most of the physical equipment backboning our network was in comparison to our competitors. They wound up closing the regional centers down and laid most of us redundants were laid off. Trying to salvage what was valuable at the core of the old firm. I understand over the decades since then, they have managed to rebuild a decent size business, but nothing like it used to be.

So, when your boss insists you join him for lunch, are you brave enough to ask "Who else is cuming?"

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