We were loading the truck one morning when Benito, the owner, appeared behind me and grabbed my arm.
“I want you to work with Bryce today!” he barked.
I sighed. “Again?”
Benito wagged his finger in my face. “You do what I tell you and no complain! Bryce is good guy! He’s been with me long time!”
“Of course he’s been with you for a long time,” I said. “He’s too useless to work anywhere else.”
“How dare you!” Benito screamed. “You take that back! Bryce is my No. 1 guy!”
“Yeah?” I said, crossing my arms. “Because his work ethic is No. 2. Seriously, the guy doesn’t do anything! Whenever you pair us together, he sits and delegates while I do all the work!”
“Bryce is a foreman!” Benito said. “That means you do what he says and no complain!”
“How come Bryce gets to be a foreman while I’m just a laborer?” I asked. “I actually work. And not only that, but I’m competent, too. What does it take to get a promotion around here?”
“You no work with me for long time!” Benito screamed, clenching his fists. “You no prove yourself!”
“OK,” I said, “so let me get this straight. If I play my cards right and muddle through for several years without making waves, then someday I, too, can achieve Bryce’s advanced stature and prominence? Is that what you’re saying?”
Benito glowered, his eyes narrowing. A vein started to protrude from his neck.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” I said.
Several minutes later, as I was loading one of the trucks, Crew Leader Carl approached me from behind.
“I heard you and Benito fighting,” he said. “What was that all about?”
“Nothing,” I said. “We were just discussing advancement opportunities.”
Carl’s eyes widened. “Did he say he’s going to promote you?”
“Only if I achieve longevity through bureaucratic momentum and run-of-the-mill performance,” I said, shrugging. “I guess I didn’t realize this place was so corporate.”