Insert Chassis Albuquerque: Career Summary - PART 1

Career Summary - PART 1

1990 – 1992: I’m employed at a fast food restaurant, staff number SM020474. Training is vigorous, staff turnover high and many fall by the wayside. I learn the menu by rote and am promoted to FLOOR MANAGER, a nominal event. Later, demonstrating uncharacteristic initiative I identify an opportunity to embark upon a subtle, aggressive program of sabotage, though the reason for this eludes me.
Politically it may be we’re embalmed by apathy, wrapped and marinated in it, and then sell it on. I am deliberate, however, and view it as a “managerial” decision. Programming a blank key on the cash register for the purpose I secretly undercut everything and on almost every shift I’m on the franchise immediately takes a knock of 25% on turnover. Some days I do special promotions – two for the price of one and still include the 25% discount. I imagine word spreading, copies of my shift schedule bandied about, customers showing up in droves to take advantage of the SPECIAL OFFERS. Pretty soon, I imagine, turnover is up, we’re making more on sheer volume than actual sales. A fantasy short-lived as, one night, my body hung low and over, shaking from an abnormal amount of excess (my pupils feel as if they drift off-centre in their sockets, alcohol practically seeping through my pores), my hand becomes badly entangled in the industrial blender we use to make our EXTRA THICK, EXTRA SYRUPY milkshakes. My face pale from shock and loss of blood, I stand, surprised, my damaged, spliced, mangled fingers hovering over the rim of the paper cup bleeding into somebody’s extra thick milkshake for all our customers to see.
“Thank you for your patronage! The good times are over!” I tell them brightly and pass out, literally, of the food trade. Because of the infancy of cash register technology my subterfuge escapes detection though the owner is baffled why takings are short.

1992 – 1996: Owned and managed a small landscape firm, employing four staff with a growing base of clients. Until Regal Needham, a member of staff, stole my truck and all landscaping equipment my father had initially financed provided I undertook to have adequate insurance.
Subsequent to this the business was forced to close as none of the above was insured, although I had actually informed my father I had done so.

1996 - 1997: Most of this year's spent locating that bastard Regal Needham and arguing with my father over outstanding unpaid bills and the ongoing saga (to this day) of the lack of insurance and my “blatant irresponsibility”.
Unbelievably when I finally locate Needham upcountry he’s running a landscape firm using my name and gardening implements and the very truck he’d stolen. When I confront him at one of “his” client’s (a charge he denied, crying, “I’m Larry MaCdermot! I own MaCdermot’s Landscape and Gardening…!”) I performed a citizen’s arrest during which Needham’s jaw and one of his arms were broken with the handle of a pickaxe before the police felt safe to intervene and subdue us.

Subsequent to this the business was unable to continue as the truck and all maintenance equipment (the lawn mowers, weed trimmers, garden implements, etc) were sold to cover my father’s outstanding debts, my legal costs and Needham’s hospitalisation and future medical bills.
My father lost faith in me and displayed an obvious reluctance to further invest in my future whereas Needham was given a laughable sentence as a “first-time offender”. My father said, “Well, there you go – crime pays!” and looked at me as if I’d committed the greater crime! My disappointed mother shot me a look over the court pews. Sometimes my mother will give me a look, a look filled with much the same aggrieved expectancy as my father had given me. It’s a look that asks a question, though the questions don’t always have to be the same: My mother shoots me a look that said she can’t help wondering sometimes if I’m not adopted.

1997 - 1999: In a drastic change I put to sea on the THOMAS ORGAN, a fishing trawler. We are out in the middle of the ocean for weeks at a time. Though my family do not discourage me I can tell they are apprehensive. My father ominously gives me an inflatable life jacket, a special homing beacon, an underwater torch and a small inflatable raft which all fit snugly into a single rucksack, just for the purpose.
“Jesus!” he says as I’m about to set off. “You keep that bag near you!”
Hard to miss it – the bag’s as big as me. He also tells me he’d actually taken out insurance on the truck and other gear himself, that there had in fact been no debts! He just wants me to grow up, to be more responsible. My mother gives me clothes, thick, insulated waterproof gear. I have to fight my way out of her embrace standing on the dock.
Out at sea I discover that apart from the First Mate and Captain I’m the only other crewman who can read. I am trusted with the task of assigning a work rotation roster for the crew. Other duties include recording accurately by weight all catches and organising and allocating weekly wages and then changing both accordingly once we rendezvous with the black marketeers to offload a sizeable portion of our altered catches.
This is a fruitful, particularly reflective period for me, until we are stranded a few hundred miles off the coast one bad winter. The swells are huge and coming off the crest of one massive swell that seesaws the vessel, the propeller is inadvertently exposed to the air. Clear of the friction of the water for only a few crucial moments the engine hits maximum torque and the drive-shaft of the trawler snaps! in two. We almost lose a crew member, me, as a section of drive-shaft flies through two decks of the fishing trawler and pierces itself in my bunk. Luckily the force is not quite sufficient to smash entirely through the rucksack of emergency equipment my father gave me I’m clinging to to support myself and am only flung against the cabin wall, cracking my head open in the process.
When we examine the bag later we discover a hole the size of fist punched neatly through most of it. I quit the sea for good.

To be continued...