Sandoval, pointing his tanned index finger from atop the conference room table, told his VP of development Andrea to make sure there was a fresh shitter on site for when the engineer visits. Andrea emailed Andre the project manager to take care of it. So Andre texted Gerry the site supervisor to take care of it. Sitting in his pickup truck in the curving line of the Tim Horton’s drive thru waiting for his large double double coffee Gerry got an idea. He was going to get Ricky to take care of it. Ricky has this inborn arrogance that makes it seem when he asks you for something it is more like a fact than a favour. But Gerry was scared of Sandoval’s son Ricky one on one.
“Hey I need one of you two geniuses to order a new port-a-potty.”
“What the fuck for?” said Oddie.
“Don’t those guys just show up on schedule every like ten days?”
“Ya, well it’s potty time,” said Gerry, making Oddie smirk.
“Fuck that farmer Joe, that’s your job and you know it. You’re trying to pawn that off on us because you don’t have the huevos to do it yourself,” said Oddie. In mid sentence Oddie remembered that it really annoyed Gerry when someone threw in phrases from their mother tongue. Spanish wasn’t his mother tongue but it still slid the job.
“You tell Ricky he has to order the new shitter,” said Oddie, imposing on Gerry the 4 inches taller he was to punctuate his point; then walking off.
Gerry was fuming because he didn’t have what these assholes did. Oddie had an x-factor. He had a way to receive a problem and without doing anything crazy; without yelling and droppind f- bombs all over the job site, he got stuff done. 50% Mike Holmes + 50% Macgyver but with better hair than both of them. Ricky had money.
“We make that dumbass’s life way too easy,” said Oddie, including Ricky. “Dude I’m getting tired of Gerry not givin me any recognition. Does the office even know I exist? What Gerry should do is tell his superiors that Oddie is a man who can think on his feet and is great with managing people on the job site,” said Oddie with Ricky nodding his head and just trying to stay neutral.
Oddie didn’t like complaining to Trina but he needed to vent. Trina was more surprised at the level of pettiness than bothered to have to hear about work drama from her boyfriend. She told him “Just speak your mind on the job site. But do it in a way that highlights your ability and your effort. Especially in front of that Ricky in case he can go over Gerry’s head and say something to his dad.”
“Just look at how I basically transformed Sandoval’s son into a young man who believes in his ability to do shit. He is outgrowing that insecure spoiled brat his dad dropped into Gerry’s lap and Gerry passed off to me,” said Oddie to Trina as he cooked dinner. She looked up from building the app on her laptop and saw his afro grazing the bottom of the stove fan and wondered how a hard hat could actually stay on his head all day without falling off all the time.
“Gerry is such a weasel. The least he should do is throw a few gift certificates my way: $200 for a nice steak dinner,” Oddie talked to himself while seasoning the onions. He liked how the grains of rock salt gave his finger tips a mini massage. He loved the sweet fragrance of frying onions but today he couldn’t smell anything because he was stewing in his own thoughts. “Ya know, Gerry is like a house cat: he is afraid of the outside world,” said Oddie.
The outside world for Gerry is anyone under 30 years old, an assertive woman, anyone whose first language isn’t English, doesn’t approve of his e-cigarette or has creativity and leadership.
When Ricky ordered the new port-a-potty he got the day wrong.
“Where’s the fuckin port-a-potty Ricky!” said Gerry inviting cardiac arrest.
“What’s that Gerry?” said Oddie. “You’re not happy with how someone else did your job for you? Then instead of sucking on your phallic e-cigarette why don’t you dial Justin Time?”
“Ricky!” yelled Gerry.
“Sup Gerry,” said Ricky, taking off his orange hard hat and wiping his forearm across his forehead.
“Where’s my fuckin port-a-potty?”
Oddie took a step back and watched as this moron turned purple in the face thinking that we waste so much of our emotions on such silly things.
“I dunno Gerry, I ordered it so it should be here. Relax, the engineer doesn’t get here till tomorrow, right?” said Ricky with his moneyed coolness.
“Fuck it,” said Gerry as he pulled his cell out of his pocket and called Justin Time for himself.
“What!” Gerry yelled at his cell phone pacing down the suburban street where they were putting up new 5,000 square foot homes in a cul-de-sac. “I need that port-a-potty here today. Now.”
Gerry got to the job site at 6:15 the next morning just in case their port-a-potty was the first delivery of the day. He leaned on his truck, took a pull off his e-cigarette and a sip of his coffee. The morning in the cul-de-sac was cool and quiet and the sky was clear. For some reason he looked over his shoulder in time to glimpse two deer bound down into the ravine. He thought of just quitting and moving back to Manitoba and taking care of his parents. He felt guilty everytime he e-transfered money but wasn’t there to help out.
“Gerry looks like shit, how do you think he slept?” said Oddie in a mock conversation with Ricky so Gerry could totally overhear it.
“It’s just a toilet,” said Oddie.
“What’s his problem?” said Ricky, putting on his gloves.
“Last year Gerry phoned Justin Time yelling at them, droppin f-bombs that he needed a new port-a-potty right away because Jean was totally hungover and he puked all over the inside of the port-a-potty. It was a stinkin hot August day and the shitter smelled like shit.”
“What happened?” said Ricky adjusting his safety glasses.
“Their boss called someone at our office who emailed Andre who yelled at Gerry. So Gerry is ashamed to talk with them.”
“Did they give you a new port-a-potty?”
“No. Gerry made Jean clean it up. After telling me to do it of course. I told him to go to hell.”
The engineer is scheduled to arrive at 9:30 a.m. and the architect should arrive around then too. Andre the PM was already on site and looking pleased with the progress.
No one thought to reschedule the lumber delivery so Peter from Access Lumber was walking on site with a purchase order in his hand and trivia in his head.
“Where do you want me to put it down? Same place as last time,” said Peter. His last delivery to this site was about two months ago.
“Who are you?” said Andre.
“Access Lumber bro,” said Peter.
Oddie started to hum a song that made Ricky giggle but a glare from Gerry shut them down.
“Why is he here?” asked Andre.
“I need the lumber or my guys are gonna be just sittin around all day playin with themselves,” said Gerry in an attempt to sound like a decision maker.
“What’s your name?” said Andre.
“Pete,” said Peter quickly while taking a step forward.
“Ok Pete,how fast can you get that lumber unloaded?” Andre asked Peter.
“I can be pullin outta here in 90 minutes if nobody gets in my way,” said Peter.
“It’s 8 am. I need you outta here in 60 minutes. These guys can help you,” said Andre motioning to Oddie and Ricky.
“That’s right Peter of Access Lumber. We are at your service. We got 60 minutes together,” said Oddie with a wry smile. Andre could tell there was something going on between these guys but he didn’t care. He wanted the lumber offloaded and this guy off his job site before the engineer arrived.
“Get it done Oddie,” said Andre. With that comment Oddie felt that the people in the office might know that he wasn’t a bobblehead like Gerry.
“Why the fuck is everyone so tense becaue of one fucking engineer?” Ricky whispered to Oddie. Oddie was directing Peter to back up the truck onto the front lawn, chewing it up a bit more.
“Ya I know. It’s complicated,” said Oddie. Ricky had learned the vocabulary of evasion on site when the guys didn’t want to talk with him about shit the company did or rumours about his dad. Ricky stood between Oddie and the space to get out from the back of the truck with a stance that declared that he was not his dad. “Dude. Now’s not the time,” said Oddie.
“Is this guy a real fuckin hard ass or what,” said Ricky walking with Oddie.
“No. Not really. She’s pretty fair from what I understand. Not being an engineer myself. She just doesn’t take bullshit – and therein lies the issue,” said Oddie.
“Right,” said Ricky as they walked around the truck.
“Now level out that area where the plywood goes. And I want the 2 by 4’s over there,” Gerry gave redundant instructions to Oddie and Ricky who already knew what the drill was.
They got the lumber offloaded and Peter pulled onto the street at 9:15 and he sat in his truck doing paperwork or on his phone.
“I just got a message from the engineer. She can’t make it today” said Andre.
“Fuck me,” said Gerry.
“Not today,” said Oddie.
“So when?” asked Gerry.
“We’ll let you know. Just keep on schedule and don’t fuck up or we’ll have to tear everything down,” said Andre.
Gerry was exhausted. “I’m goin for coffee,” but then he saw he was already holding a large coffee in his hand.
Peter jumped down from the cab of his truck and walked across the street to the job site.
“Hey guys,” Peter said.
“Is that you Peter?” said Oddie.
Peter loved his job because he would visit different job sites all the time and could use the same trivia on all of them but get a new reaction each time. He ached to overcome his sense of lack of accomplishment as a man by bringing his own Jeopardy show where he is the host and the contestant. He just kept talking when the guys rolled their eyes or he heard others laugh at him. He was like a comedian who came to practise his routine on the guys before going on stage.
“Brother, I think you’ll like this one,” started Peter. “The original Zeppelin, the LZ 127 Graf…”
Oddie got a kick out of giving Peter a hard time but also admired his spirit to do his thing regardless of what others think. And he occasionally had a good story to tell. He was pretty sure the trivia Peter came up with was determined by his children’s homework assignments. Ricky now used wrist braces because his wrists weren’t used to the framing. He pretended he was adjusting his braces so he could listen to Peter.
“Knock it off guys. Get to work?” said Gerry, breaking up Peter’s seminar on airships.
Oddie laughed to himself and started singing so Peter could hear as he walked to his truck:
“There’s a skeeter on your Peter knock it off. There’s a skeeter on your Peter knock it off – there’s a dozen on my cousin I can hear the fuckers buzzin, there’s a skeeter on your Peter knock it off.”
From the Short Story Series: Tool by Kevin McNamara