It was late afternoon. We had returned to the shop and unloaded the truck.
I had just clocked out when the company owner, Benito, appeared in the shop doorway. He was holding a cigar in one hand and a metal sign in the other.
“You!” he said, pointing at me. “I need your help!”
“Oh, c’mon, Benito,” I said, sighing. “We just got back, and I’m off the clock now.”
“You tall, and I need your height!” Benito said, yelling in his thick Italian accent. He thrust the metal sign at me. “Get a ladder and hang this up over the punch clock, where everybody see it!”
I flipped the sign over in my hand. In giant red letters, it said, “No Smoking.”
I looked from the sign to Benito, who was standing there holding his cigar. Thick, acrid smoke curled from the the lit end and drifted toward the tobacco-stained ceiling, dissipating into the air.
“You want me to hang this up?” I asked. “On the wall above the punch clock? Here in the shop?”
“Yes!” Benito said. “How many times I have tell you? Get a ladder and a hammer and hang up sign on wall, where everybody see it!”
“Is this a new rule or something, effective today?” I asked.
“Who you calling defective?” Benito screamed, stomping his foot. “I no defective! You defective! Now get a ladder and a hammer and hang up sign like I tell you!”
I looked again from the sign to the smoldering cigar.
“Benito,” I said, “are you familiar with the term irony?”
“Irony!” Benito said. “That woman work! My wife do all the irony!”