The matter of Carl


We all hear a lot about Carl, even when we’re outside of work.

Damned Carl.

Stupid Carl.

Sneaky Carl

Plus a dozen names we would never say in front of our wives or mothers, and none would dare to save to Carl’s face.

Every work place has someone like Carl, a frustrated bully who carries over his bad habits from high school, brow beating some of us just for fun, always hitting us up for cash on pay day with the implied threat that we might get hurt if we don’t loan him money we all know he’ll never pay back.

Those of us who know him from school know just how real a threat his threats are and we fork over our hard-earned wages to he can squander them on booze, drugs and women.

While we all take stuff from the warehouse from time to time, Carl treats this place like his personal wholesale business, and holds fire sales in the mall parking lot nearly every Friday.

We see him loading the stuff out the back door into his van every Friday afternoon, praying he’ll get caught and fired so we won’t have to live with him any more.

But even the security guards are scared of him, though he always careful to give them a piece of everything he sells.

Some people call Carl “the egg man” for the way he walks on eggshells to keep from getting caught.

He hates the thought of being locked up and once beat up a teacher for daring to give him detention at school

We all plot behind Carl’s back, some of us even mumble something about telling Mr. Manco about the thefts, but none of us ever does. If Carl beats up Manco, we’ll all be out of jobs.

Until today we all presumed Manco too stupid or scared to do anything about Carl.

So we’re shocked when Manco calls Carl to come into his office.

Carl is in late, as usual, but nobody’s ever scolded him for it so we assume nobody will scold him now.

Carl glances around at us, looking as sour as he did the time the teacher called him in for detention. This makes me nervous.

Carl is huffing so hard I half expect to see steam oozing out his ears.

At that point, I notice that Manco has replaced the usual security guards with strange men wearing dark sunglasses and suits.

Carl doesn’t notice. He just barges into Manco’s office.

The voices grow so loud  not even the crew at the loading dock misses a word.

Manco tells Carl the game is over and if Carl doesn’t fly right, he’ll have to leave.

This means no mor4e thefts off the back dock, no more hitting up fellow workers for money he hasn’t earned.

Carl is silent for so long we don’t know what will happen next.

His voice sounds weird when he shouts that Manco will be sorry for this, adding a parade of threats that make all of us shudder and run for cover when the enraged Carl comes out.

Manco shouts back that he has protection now, and that Carl should be the one to watch out.

Carl simply storms out.

But we expect the worst. We expect to leave work to have Carl run us down with his car, and we’re relived when we get outside and find he isn’t there.

None of us expects to read in the next day’s paper about Carl’s body being found floating in the bay, riddled with bullet holes.

While we’re all grateful for Carl’s vacating the premises, we’re that much more nervous about Manco.

You can bet none of us will ever give him lip.

And if tempted, we just think of Carl.


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