Doing the work

A barista (Photo Credit: Jeremy KeithCC BY 2.0)

“The usual?” Anita asked.

“What else,” he said, mock sardonically.

“Already have it ready for you, jerk,” said Anita, flashing a smile.

Kevin sipped his latte. Clearly a regular. Me? I had only been here once before. As it turns out, I was glad I had happened by on this particular day, for reasons which shall soon become evident.

He was, apparently, a biker. Helmet, armored leather jacket, mullet. But you know that saying about not judging a book by its cover?

Kevin’s phone rang.

“I don’t owe you any time on Sunday.... It’s all in the PDF I sent you.... We don’t have a personal relationship, we have a business relationship. There have to be boundaries.... I don’t bother you when you’re doing whatever it is you do.... I don’t give a fuck about your personal life.... We’ll talk on Tuesday.”

He hung up and finished his latte. His demeanour was cold, collected, almost sociopathic. After a few moments, he made a call.

“This isn’t working. Oliver is not picking up on details. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t follow directions. He doesn’t respect boundaries.... If he can’t be trusted with the Little Things, he can’t be trusted with the Big Things.”

The capitals were audible.

“Yeah, I had to give him the Boundaries talk. Again. The Don’t Call Me on a Weekend talk. Again. Get rid of him, Claire. Find his replacement on Monday. I want to talk to them on Wednesday. Get it set up.... Shit. The holiday. Find someone Tuesday, I’ll talk to them Thursday.”

He hung up.

“Anita, I need—” A second latte appeared before he finished the sentence. She must be telepathic.

Another phone call.

“Ron? Kevin. Are you still interested in the position we talked about before?... No, I don’t want you to quit your current job.... I don’t think you’re capable of that—yet. We’ll start small.... The job exists to save me time; if I have to check your work, there’s no reason for the job.... Don’t give me your résumé over the phone; this isn’t an interview.”

“Claire will send you an assignment on Tuesday. Have it done Wednesday so I can make some decisions on Thursday.... Think of it like a nuclear power plant. Most of the time, the work is incredibly dull. You write procedures. You run drills. You monitor every detail. Every now and then, shit hits the fan. Everything happens perfectly, or people don’t get power. Maybe people die.... Yeah, you’re a smart dude, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

He paused, almost reflectively.

“I’m usually this blunt, and I hope you can be blunt with me going forward.... Great. Talk to you then.”

Kevin hung up. Anita brought him a third latte. All was right with the world.

I pondered: what job were Kevin, Claire, Oliver, and—soon, Ron—talking about? It could be anything, but I imagined it could be something dangerous, even illegal. Smuggling drugs? Laundering money? Anything, really.

In case you are wondering: this tale is entirely true. I just might have to stop into that coffee shop more often.

Editor’s Note: The events depicted were witnessed by Dennis R and lightly dramatized by Tom K. Many of Kevin’s words have been quoted verbatim, or nearly so.

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