When you’ve been underemployed as long as I have, you inevitably work with people who are, for lack of a better word, dickheads. They aren’t exactly assholes, and they aren’t exactly douchebags. They contain features of both words, but neither word fully embodies their persona the way the word dickhead does. Since this is the first of many posts that will be written about dickheads, I thought a little explanation was in order.
“Lou’s favorite three words were “fuck that guy” said to me when a customer wouldn’t buy from him. So I heard it a lot.”
With that out of the way, allow me to speak in greater detail about dickheads at work. More often than not, dickheads are in charge of you. They’re your managers, supervisors, and leads. To be fair, I’ve worked with peers who are also kind of dickheads. However, I have to say, person for person, managers were by far the biggest dickheads. Probably because they had so much bravado due to their elite status. After all, not just anybody can become a manager at Neil’s Hamburger Hut. It take grit and determination to achieve that pinnacle of success.
For this first edition of Working with Dickheads I turn to one of the dullest, most tedious, and least inspirational jobs in the world. Selling mattresses. A job even a monkey would refuse to do. And remember, monkeys consider throwing feces one of their jobs.
Selling mattresses is a niche business. You don’t see many customers in a day. No one stops by a mattress store, eager to check out what’s new in bed technology. When I did the job, it was me and a huge store of beds hanging out together in solitude. I was basically a security guard for a mattress store.
A mattress salesman’s day is a long one. You mostly work alone for 10 to 12 hours, and wait silently for someone to come in to wake you up out of your soul crushing isolation. You could easily go a day or two without seeing a single customer. It’s a great job for lazy people who consider walking to the bathroom the high point of their day.
On the weekend, when we did get customers, the manager of the store would come in to work a co-shift. The manager was a wiry 59 year old guy, who for the purposes of this story we’ll call Lou. Lou was a fast talking hustler with a thick Bronx accent. He was also deeply unethical, lacked any integrity, and was proud of it.
Lou’s favorite three words were “fuck that guy” said to me when a customer wouldn’t buy from him. So I heard it a lot. He was also fond of smiling at a customer, then turning around and flipping the person off so only I could see. Lou was all class. Not at all a total dick.
Lou was happiest when he was ripping people off. He was aggressive, rude, and never stopped talking. Like ever. I once told Lou if there were an Olympic event for marathon talking, he would win the gold every four years. He thought that was a compliment.
The first time I worked with Lou, he asked me in a deadly serious tone if I believed in aliens, and if I thought they were living here among us. He asked this two part question the same way one asks if you believe in God. He needed my answer so he could pass judgement on me as quickly as possible
I told him I didn’t believe aliens live among us or ever visited the Earth. Now to be fair, I also mentioned that I don’t know if there are other life forms in the galaxy, because of course it’s possible. However, at this time I have not yet eaten sushi with an alien, so I couldn’t say with confidence I thought they live among us.
I didn’t think my opinion was controversial, but apparently it was. Lou was incredulous. “You don’t believe in aliens? That’s amazing. How could you not? You ever see that show, Ancient Aliens,” he asked. When I told him no, he shook his head in disgust and told me, “I can’t believe you don’t think aliens have been to Earth. How can you not believe it? They’re everywhere!”
He spoke to me as if my opinion was crazy. He glared at me, and said, “How do you think the pyramids and Stonehenge were created?” He was absolutely sure the answer was aliens. I mean how could it not be the answer? The TV show on channel 273 said it was true. Apparently, the cable show Ancient Aliens had all this covered in their program, and the answer to all questions of any type of mystery or speculation was, of course, aliens did it.
Ancient Aliens is a show that according to Wikipedia “presents hypotheses of ancient astronauts and proposes that historical texts, archaeology, and legends contain evidence of past human-extraterrestrial contact. The show has been criticized for presenting pseudoscience and pseudohistory.” My manager thought the show was a documentary. To him, Ancient Aliens delivered critical information that should be taught in schools across the country. Part of the new common core.
All day long Lou kept muttering how weird it was I didn’t think aliens were hanging out on Earth. He thought I was misguided and naive. He was a bully about it too. A total dickhead.
To clarify, I have no problem with people who believe aliens have visited the earth. I don’t think they’re crazy or anything like that. I just take it as their opinion. No more, no less. What I’d never experienced before was someone attacking me for not living in reality due to what I’m pretty sure is a sensible opinion. One that resides in actual reality. After 90 minutes of his badgering I finally excused myself, and volunteered to vacuum the 10,000 square foot store. Strangely enough, after that bizarre conversation, I felt like phoning home. Hmm.