The Henchman’s Diary

First off, let me just say the costume was a huge disappointment. I’ve seen bats at Gotham Zoo, and this guy looked nothing – nothing! – like a bat.  He looked more like a weird S&M character, which makes you wonder exactly what kind of people the city is being run by if they’re working with a guy dressed like this. A pretty sad commentary, really. Totally unprofessional.

[Note: This piece was originally written for The League of Ordinary Gentlemen.]

 

September 18 –

Got fired today. After more than two years of hard and loyal work, I was given the shaft.

It’s all just political bullshit. It’s true I was late again. But lots of guys are late every now and then and they don’ get fired, so explain that. I happen to know that Ted fired me because he knew I was gunning for his job as night manager. I thought about calling the day manager, who is way, way above Ted, and telling him Ted just fired his best employee out of petty jealousy, and also that I knew for a fact sometimes Ted hits on customers which is totally against company policy. But then I was like, screw it. I’m tired of working at Subway.

I texted Sharon and asked her to come over. Now that I don’t have to focus on climbing the ladder in the competitive world of affordable sandwich making, I can focus on the more important stuff, like our love.

September 23 –

Terrible day. After days of me texting and leaving voicemails, Sharon finally had the nerve to show her face –- to break up! She did the whole “we’ve grown apart” thing for a while, but I could tell it was really because she was already seeing someone else. She eventually admitted it. She said that this new guy, “Jerry,” was going places in life, that unlike me was edgy and dangerous and an artist. I think “Jerry” is Jerry Meyerowitz, which is a total joke. He runs Karaoke Night Tuesdays over at the downtown Applebee’s, which is about as opposite of edgy and dangerous as you can get. You want danger? Work with just two other people, one of which is “I can barely lift the sliced turkey shipment” Ted, in a defenseless Subway during the night shift, when anyone can come in. Then you’ll know what danger is. You think robbers don’t know we have money in the till? Because they do. What’s so friggin’ dangerous about Applebee’s?

Some potential good news, though. I ran into Danny, who used to work at Subway, and he said he’s working for a new start up that pays really well. He’s going to take me to meet his supervisor tomorrow, and that if the guy likes me I’ll be making twice as much as a Subway assistant manager right off the bat, with the potential to make a lot more. So f**k you, Ted.

September 30 –

Wow!

Sorry to be away, Diary, but this past week has been a whirlwind. Last Saturday I met Danny’s boss, who, it turns out, isn’t in the food service industry at all. His name is Carl, and he’s totally cool. He actually has a tattoo on his arm, and get this – it’s a naked woman! I mean, you can see everything. I texted “guess what?” to Sharon a few times, because I wanted to ask her if she doesn’t maybe see the irony in dumping me for Jerry Meyerowitz because he’s so “dangerous,” and now here I am a week later working for a guy that actually has a naked woman tattooed on his arm. She never returned my texts.

The company Carl works for is working on some kind of secret project. Carl says its best that I don’t know anything I don’t need to know, but I overheard that the headquarters is the old abandoned Gotham Amusement Park. So it’s pretty obvious that it’s a company that is looking to reopen the place. I get why they need to be hush-hush. Gotham Amusement Park went out of business when those bastards at Six Flags opened a competing amusement park down the road. Six Flags plays hardball, so it’s probably best not to let them know we’re about to give them a little market-share payback.

Anyway, Carl and I totally hit it off and he hired me right away without even making me fill out an application, which was a huge relief. I didn’t need him calling Ted, since I might have said on my resume that I quit Subway after giving two weeks notice and that I was the night manager.

Carl’s team is in charge of “acquisitions.” The way the new job works is, I get a pager, and when it goes off it means it’s time for us to go acquire things. Carl gave me an advance of $50, and said he’d be in touch. I used the advance to get the new Sonic Generations game for my X-Box. I’ve been playing it all week. It’s pretty hard.

October 1 –

Got my first page today!

Thought it was to go “acquire” something, but turned out it was more of an employee orientation thing. I thought Carl was the boss, but it turns out our real boss is a guy everyone just calls The Boss. I haven’t met The Boss yet, but when I do I’m supposed to “not notice his face” – whatever that means – and laugh at his jokes, even when they’re not funny. Apparently if you break these rules the guy can be a real ball buster.

Also, it turns out this is a theme venture, like Hot Dog On A Stick. We all have to wear costumes when we’re on the job. It’s a clown theme, which I guess is okay, but to be honest the production values of the uniforms Carl has put together are pretty poor. I don’t think The Boss has a lot of experience with theme marketing, so I’m making a note when I finally meet him to let him know that the company’s uniform is a customer’s first and last impression. It’s not like I’m trying to get Carl’s job or anything, but you can’t expect opportunity to knock at your door if you haven’t laid out the welcome mat!

Also, we’re supposed to be careful about some guy that works with the city that dresses up like a bat. I’m not entirely sure what the guy in the bat costume does for the city, exactly. As best I can tell, he’s kind of like the jagoff from the Health Department that used to show up at Subway and tell me that I wasn’t handling the food right, even though that guy had clearly never worked food service. So I guess this means that Carl breaks the rules to get the job done, which frankly I respect. It’s the kind of “FU”-to-the-man attitude I’ve been trying to cultivate recently.

October 2 –

Sent Sharon the text, “breakin rules & gettin job done!!!” a few times. Haven’t heard back.

October 6 –

This Sonic Generations game is really hard. I keep getting killed by Dr. Eggman. Wondering if maybe my copy is faulty.

October 12 –

Exhausted!!!

Was up late the past three nights, performing “acquisitions.” Turns out mostly what we do is break into labs to collect things which are going to be used to build some kind of machine that is important to The Boss’s business plan. I’m assuming it’s some kind of new ride, like a roller coaster that goes super fast or upside down or something. Technically I think we’re stealing these parts, but if we’re stealing roller coaster parts it stands to reason we’re stealing them from Six Flags, which makes it kind of funny when you think about it.

In addition to the Six Flags security, we’re supposed to watch out for these other guys that work for another competitor that’s trying to build the same machine we are, and are targeting the same parts. Carl and Danny both say that the guys that work for this other outfit are pompous dickwads.

I tell them I know how to handle pompous dickwads, on account of having worked for Ted for over two years.

October 14 –

The work keeps coming! It’s tiring going out so late.

Plus we now have a list of “jokes” we’re supposed to know if we ever run into other people, and we’re supposed to be using our down time to memorize them. It’s part of the whole clown-theme business model, and honestly most of them are pretty lame. Like, we’re given this pouch of ball bearings, right?  And so if some security guard is chasing us we throw them on the ground, and when the guard loses his footing and slips we’re supposed to say either “Sorry for tripping you up there!” or “I knew we looked pretty, but I’m still surprised you fell for us so hard!” Lame, right? Still, branding is branding.

The longest list of situational jokes are to be used if the city’s bat person shows up. I’m hoping I’m never in the situation to use them. Frankly, they’re a little mean-spirited.

October 16 –

Am more convinced than ever that my Sonic Generations game has a bug. Seriously, I don’t think it’s supposed to be this hard.

October 17 –

FIGHT!!!!

Ran into our “mystery” competitors tonight. Gotta say, Carl and Danny were right about those guys being dickwads. Fist of all, they wear these tight green jumpsuits that are covered in question marks. It’s like the most totally gay thing I’ve ever seen. But the worst part is that before they do anything they ask you these stupid riddles, and then get these s**t-eating grins knowing you can’t answer them. They asked a couple that we couldn’t figure out (one of them was about eating crow, a man that yells uncle, and boy who tosses sponges?) and then I got pissed off.

I explained to them that our theme was jokes, which was much better than riddles, because a riddle was just one kind of joke and so was way more limited. We could tell riddles if we wanted to, and be totally in theme – we just chose not to, because riddles are gay. That’s when the fight started. We totally kicked their ass! Well, I say “we,” but I kind of stood back and let Danny and Carl do the actual fighting. I felt like what I had contributed was the more important pointing out that our theme led more easily to diversification.

Carl was kind of pissed at me afterward. I think he’s starting to sense my management potential, and is worried about his position.

October 20 –

Terrible night. Went out with Danny for a wine cooler to the Gotham Red Robin, and guess who now hosts the Red Robin Tuesday Karaoke/Ladies Night? Yep. Jerry “F**k-Face” Meyerowitz. Sharon was there, of course, making googly eyes at him whenever he was on stage singing.

I know we men are supposed to be the ones without feelings, but sometimes you have to wear your heart on your sleeve and just Go For It. So with Sharon sitting there a mere 20 feet away, I decided the time to be a man was now or never. I texted her “CAN WE TALK” a couple of times. She must of had her phone turned off or was ignoring it, because she never even picked it up.

So Danny and I left, and went down the block to the new Flannery McPoodle-toots for some shots of peach schnapps.

October 26 –

Returned Sonic Generations at Game Stop. Pretty sure it was defective. Picked up a copy of Super Mario Brothers Go-Carts.

October 27 –

OMG!!! Finally ran into this bat guy everyone keeps going on about!

I’d gotten a page from Carl and met up with him and Danny. We were supposed to break into this lab out in the burbs and steal some kind of “iced topes,” whatever those are. We even had a special container from The Boss to keep the iced topes in, which is pretty smart since I assume they might otherwise melt. Anyway, we’d barely gotten through the window when the bat guy just appears out of nowhere.

First off, let me just say the costume was a huge disappointment. I’ve seen bats at Gotham Zoo, and this guy looked nothing – nothing! – like a bat. I wouldn’t even have known it was the bat guy at all if Carl hadn’t started freaking out and shouting, “It’s the Bat! It’s the Bat!” He looked more like a weird S&M character, which makes you wonder exactly what kind of people the city is being run by if they’re working with a guy dressed like this. A pretty sad commentary, really. Totally unprofessional.

I will say, though, that the bat guy is pretty fast. And strong. We’re not allowed to have any kind of equipment that isn’t circus themed, so both Carl and Danny were pulling out their Siegfried and Roy Brand Special Edition Electric Tiger Prods – but before they could raise their arms they were out cold from two quick punches from this guy. Then he turned and looked at me. As he was walking slowly toward me I realized I couldn’t remember any of the puns I was supposed to use. Instead, as I saw him draw back his fist I said, “Hey, lay off pig! I pay your salary!”

That stopped him cold, and for a second he just stood there, with his head cocked and his mouth slightly open, like he was trying to figure out what I’d just said. Then the corners on his lips ticked up into the slightest of smiles and he punched me in the face, knocking me out. Apparently he then tied us all up (see what I mean about the S&M outfit???!!!) and left us at the nearest Gotham police precinct, where they hassled us for a bit and then let us go.

I still can’t believe that douche bag just hit me like that. What a jagoff.

November 1 –

I met The Boss today. I’m glad I got the warning about his face, because even having been prepped it was pretty hard not to stare. Is it make up? A skin condition? Birthmarks? I really couldn’t tell, and it was hard to resist the urge to lean in and look closer.

The clothes were pretty good, though. Purples and greens, well tailored and fancy – not like the stuff we have to wear. You look at us workers and you say, “these people need a serious uniform upgrade.” But when you look at The Boss, all you see are the words “Easily Franchisable” and dollar signs. He is a winner.

The Boss let me know that because our team failed to get the iced topes, Carl is no longer the leader of our team and will consequently be spending more time in the shark tank. I didn’t even know we had a shark tank. It will be a good draw when the amusement park opens, I guess. But do we really want a guy with a totally nude woman tattooed on his arm manning such a visible exhibit at a family-based venture that’s trying to get off the ground? It seems like a bad idea, but I figured I can always bring this up later.

The Boss wanted to know if I thought I was up to leading the team and getting those iced topes he needs. Ms Quinn wanted to know too.

I think Ms. Quinn is the HR person, and I have to confess she’s pretty hot. I have half a mind to ask her out, but am a little hesitant. Partly because I really think Sharon and I have a real shot at something permanent, and partly because I’m a little afraid since she’s probably the HR person Miss Quinn might fire me for harassment. She wouldn’t stop smiling, though, so I think she likes me.

Anyway, The Boss was saying that we still need to get the iced topes in the next ten days for the big plan to work, and if I could think of a way to get them with the bat guy watching the lab I would be the team’s Ace. I had never heard of this particular designation before, so I asked if being the team’s “Ace” was higher ranking than “night manager.” He looked confused for a moment, and then said that not only was it higher ranking than “night manger,” it was higher ranking than “shark tank boy” – which is what I’d be if I didn’t come up with a workable plan.

That gave me pause. Like I say, that exhibit is sure to be where the crowds go when we open, so I think shark tank boy would be a pretty plumb job. Still, if Sharon and I are to have the future I know we can, I need to give up being “cool” and focus on my career. So team Ace it is.

I told the boss I’d work tirelessly over the next ten days, and bring him a no-fail plan to get those iced topes.

November 3 –

I think this Super Mario game is defective too. I’ve been playing it pretty much constantly over the past two days, and I can’t seem to get very far. I’m starting to wonder if this whole Game Stop used games thing is just a big racket.

November 5 –

Well, that was weird.

I went to Game Stop today to swap out Super Mario for Bass Fishin’ USA, and when I got back to the my apartment The Boss was there with Miss Quinn, waiting for me. WTF?

The Boss told me that he was a little concerned that no one had heard from me about how the plan to get the iced topes was coming. I tried to explain to him that I had been told I had ten days to get the plan together, and because it was important I was taking my time to get it right.

Then I was kind of forced to be rude to Miss Quinn. She butted in and asked if she could see whatever work I had done. That pissed me off. I mean, I’m sorry, but since when is it HR’s job to micromanage my workload? I thought it was really inappropriate, and since the truth was I didn’t actually have anything yet, I decided to turn the tables. I pointed out that I’d been working there for well over 30 days and yet I still had not been given an employee handbook, or been given any documentation stating that we were an equal opportunity employer. I told her my cousin worked at Labor & Industry and so I knew that she could totally get in trouble for that if someone – I mean, not me of course, but someone – ever reported them. I felt a little bad saying this because my cousin actually works for Starbucks, but glass houses, Ms. Quinn. Glass houses!

Anyway, The Boss just laughed it off and said we’d see what we would see in five days. He said it was no big to him; either I was an Ace or shark tank material. Which let me tell you took a lot of the pressure off. It’s nice to know I’ve made enough of an impression that he’s planning on finding a place for me regardless of how well I do on this project.

As they were leaving, Ms. Quinn leaned over and whispered in my ear, “See you later, shark tank boy” and then kissed me on the cheek. Our sexual tension is going to be an ongoing issue, I can tell.

Once they’d gone, I texted Sharon and told her it was probably over.

November 6 –

Bass Fishin’ USA is really hard.

November 7 –

Finally decided to sit down today and focus on the iced topes problem. Turns out I probably should have started a little sooner.

I have a lot of possible scenarios I’m considering. One has me and the guys dressed as clowns going in at midnight. Another has us going in around noon, just a bit before lunch time. One actually has us wearing those green jump suits the riddle jagoffs wear. There’s also one that’s princess themed I thought might be pretty fun, but it was pretty much a non-starter so far.

Where I am getting into trouble with all the scenarios, however, is what to do once we arrive at the lab. That’s where it really gets tricky.

I have decided to sleep on it.

November 8 –

I went to the Gotham Barnes & Noble this morning and picked up a copy of Good to Great by Jim Collins. I’ve heard from friends that it’s got some really great tips about how to turn your team into a winner. (And with just two days left on this project, let me tell you that I can use a little of that!) Anyway, I brought it home and started reading it, but it’s kind of boring and I got a little glassy eyed. There’s something about a bus, and how I need to get the right people on this bus, and that the bus will then get us where we need to go.

I decided to read more tomorrow, but in the meantime I went back to all of my potential scenarios, and under the transportation line in each I crossed out “getaway car” and wrote “BUS,” and then underlined “BUS” several times.

Also, more Bass Fishin’ USA. I think I’m starting to get the hang of it.

November 9 –

I am totally up s**t creek without a paddle. My plan is due tomorrow, and I have nothing for The Boss.

Finished Bass Fishin’ USA.

November 10 –

It is now an hour before I meet with The Boss, and I have to say I have pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the proverbial hat. I woke up last night in a cold sweat, but that Good to Great must have sunk in somewhere because that’s when it suddenly hit me: I’m focusing on the problem of the day, not the finish line I want to reach. Because really, what is it we’re really trying to achieve? Is it having some container of iced topes? Hardly. In fact, I tried googling “iced topes,” and nothing comes up. So The Boss might think they’re important, but let’s face it – if our customer base doesn’t know or care about iced topes, how important could they really be?

No, what this organization needs to achieve isn’t iced topes. It’s a capturing a meaningful share of the Amusement Park Market.

Once I realized this, the rest was easy. All that was left was to write up the business plan that – I know this sounds crazy – I think I was born to write. In this plan I laid out a vision of a new Gotham Amusement Park. One that was not only family friendly, but was also green, eco-friendly and had a small carbon footprint. I made sure to have the phrase “small carbon footprint” repeated about a dozen times throughout the plan to hammer it home. This message will not only be popular with the demographic we seek, I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to get Al Gore, George Clooney and Salma Hayek to promote us for free, because I think they like doing that kind of stuff. (OK, so maybe not all of them, but at least two – and that’s two more free celebrity promoters than we have now, right?) Also, I wrote up how we should invest in the future by hiring people that actually know how to run amusement park companies and fix dilapidated rides and exhibits! It sounds like a no-brainer once someone says it out loud, but it’s these kinds of attention-to-details details that separate the good companies from the great ones, as Jim Collins has taught me.

As a final sizzle, I titled my report “Why Go For Iced Topes When You Can Have Red Hot Rides?,” which I feel reflects the kind of jaunty can-do attitude our organization could frankly use more of.

Before I go, I’m going to text Sharon that I have finally made it to the big time, and let her know that if she wants a taste of real success she can meet me tonight at Flannery McPoodle-toots for a celebratory shot of peach schnapps. Because this is my day. And on this day, Gotham is my city.

Look out, world!

 

(No additional entries)

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