It was late Friday afternoon. We returned to the shop to find the owner, Benito, standing in the open bay doorway, his hands on his hips.
“I get calls from five customers today!” he said, as we climbed out of the truck. As usual, he was yelling in his thick, Italian accent.
“Oh, no,” said Crew Leader Carl, closing his eyes.
“Oh yes!” Benito yelled. “They like your work! Say very nice things!”
“Really?” Carl looked at me, his eyes widening. “Did I hear that right?”
“It make me very happy when I get customer compliments!” Benito said, clenching his fists and stomping his foot.
Stan, one of the younger crew members, leaned close to my ear. “Really? He doesn’t look happy.”
“That’s just Benito’s way,” I said, whispering back. “He can’t help it. He’s always pissed off, even when he’s in a good mood.”
Carl wiped his brow. “Well, that’s great news, Boss. I’m glad to hear the customers are happy.”
“Yes — very good news!” Benito said, raising a finger in the air. “So tomorrow night, to celebrate, I take you all out to steak dinner!”
“Oh, wow,” I said. “That’s really nice. Can I bring my girlfriend, Joanne? We haven’t gone out together for several weeks.”
Benito jabbed a finger into my chest. “No wives or girlfriends! Crew only! I no buy dinner for freeloaders who no work for me!”
I held up my hands. “That’s OK, Boss. No worries. I’m just grateful you’re buying dinner for the freeloaders who do work for you.”
I grinned, to make it clear I was joking.
“Exactly!” Benito said, clenching his fists again. “You should be grateful I’m buying dinner for all you stupid freeloaders! Stupid, stupid! All of you — stupid!”
He turned and stomped off, kicking a pebble out of his path as he marched toward his office.
Stan looked at me, his eyes narrowed. “I don’t get it. Is he angry with us, or happy?”
I shrugged. “When it comes to Benito, I think it makes him happy to be angry.”