There the two of us stood. How intimate. And in the very room I had only been in once before: my first day of work at AeroSeat. This time I was leaving, though.
The company receptionist stared out at us from behind the dubious security of the sliding glass service window. Her concern was obvious. She had that "one false move and I'm calling the police" look about her.
I suppose there had been previous episodes ...
Uncomfortable silence was broken by the floor manager saying, "You'll have to leave now, Jeff."
"Okay. I'll leave as soon as I have my toolbox."
"Suspended employees leave their toolboxes here, Jeff."
"But that's my toolbox and my tools. And there is nothing in either the employees manual or the paperwork I just refused to sign that says I have to leave my toolbox here."
"Well that's just how things work around here. Besides, what do you need your toolbox for if you're suspended?"
"I'm not just going to sit around for three days. I'm going to scare up some work somewhere, so I need my toolbox."
A stern yet exasperated look crossed her face.
"Your toolbox stays here. That's just the way it's going to be."
And it appeared that we had reached yet another Mexican bullshit standoff - the second such loggerhead of the day.
I wanted my toolbox and she wasn't giving it up. Time stood still for a moment and I fought off the whole lobby scene going surrealistic on me. The only way to break this deadlock was a drastic display of sabre rattling.
What the heck? I was still feeling my oats. After all, it was mere minutes after my "make me" pièce de résistance in the HR manager's office. I still had that wind in my sails. And besides, I was already suspended ...
"That's NOT how it's going to be," I said in the best authoratative voice I could muster up. "If you don't deliver my toolbox to me within five minutes, I'm going to stop by the State Police barracks, file a formal complaint, and return with a trooper to see you arrested for larceny and possession of stolen goods. THAT'S how it's going to be."
"Don't be ridiculous, Jeff. You wouldn't do such a thing."
"If you doubt me, you'll soon find yourself under arrest and filling out paperwork at Troop L."
At this point she was steaming. "Give me a minute," she said as she turned to leave the lobby.
"You have five," I volleyed.
Two and a half minutes later (yes, I timed it), the floor manager returned to the lobby with a lackey in tow. And said lackey had my toolbox.
"There! You have your toolbox," she huffed.
So as to prevent any accusations flying from either camp later on, I insisted that a quick inventory be done with her lackey a witness. All the tools were checked and several company tools commonly stored in personal toolboxes were removed. Then the toolbox was buttoned back up and the lobby universe returned to its normal yet tenuous balance. I picked up my beloved toolbox and walked out the front door.
All I had wanted was to clock out and return when the parts delivery was in and kitted. Instead, I ended up with three days away from the factory mind games. Though these were unpaid, any days off are excellent. And so was the weather: clear, blue sky. Upon rounding the corner of the building towards the parking lot, it occurred to me that the trip home was going to be a bit of a challenge.
There awaiting me was my trusty motorcycle - a vehicle not designed for nor equipped to carry the aforementioned tool box whose very bulk and weight were stretching my left arm to new lengths with each passing second. I did somehow manage to secure it to the motorcycle, but the ride home was neither comfortable nor without moments of concern. The bungee cords and rope from my saddle bags were just not really up for the task at hand.
However, the Gods of Saving Face were looking down upon me favorably that day and I didn't have to start my three day "vacation" picking up a battered toolbox and tools scattered all over Route 202!
UNINTENTIONAL TEASE - I'm not certain which particular chapter is going to be the next project. So please check the website's main page (link below) for further updates.