Thursday, September 24, 2009

Robert MacBrearty: “First Day”

THE BOSS SPAT. "Do you know how to work hard?" he asked. "I mean hard?"
"Not really," I said.
"I'll take a chance on you," he said. "The first thing you need to do is move that big thing over there."
"That big thing?"
"Hell yes, that big thing."
"It sure looks big," I said.
"You're goddamn right it's big. That is one big thing."
"Where do you want it?"
"Well, we sure as hell don't want it there, do we?"
"So where do we want it?"
"Where do you think we want it, Einstein?"
"Do we want it over there?" I asked, pointing.
"Hell no, we don't want it over there. What the hell would we want that big thing over there for?"
"I guess we don't."
"You're damn right we don't. Take it down to the goddamn warehouse, Edison."
"Where's the warehouse?"
"Where's the warehouse? You work here and you don't know where the goddamn warehouse is?" The boss spat. "Three blocks that way, and then turn that way and then turn that way. That's where the goddamn warehouse is, Balzac."
"Well, okay," I said. "I'll take that big thing down to the warehouse."
"They'll know what to do with that big thing there."
I got ahold of the big thing and tried to hoist it tip on my shoulders.
The boss ran up. His face was red. He spat. "What do you think you're doing? You don't lift those big things, Galileo. You roll them. -What did you do, go to college? You roll those goddamn big things. You don't lift them."
"Okay, okay," I said. "I'll roll it."
I got behind the big thing. I put my shoulder against it. I grunted. My heels came off the ground. The boss watched me. "How's it feel?" he asked.
"Big," I said.
"You're goddamn right," he said.
I dug my feet into the ground and pushed. It creaked and slid a couple of inches.
"Roll it straight, Da Vinci," the boss hollered. "Don't let that big thing get away from you."
It was getting easier. The big thing was starting to roll. The big thing bounced to the left, and the big thing dragged to the right, and I tried to move it from side to side. We rolled out the gate and on to the street. Cars started honking. People were yelling. A guy shouted out his window, "Get that big thing out of the street, you moron!"
I got the big thing up on the sidewalk. it started to pick up speed. It was really rolling now. I saw some people on the sidewalk. I tried to stop the big thing but it just pulled me along with it. "Hey look out," I called. "I can't slow this thing down."
"Watch it, watch it," a man cried. "He's out of control."
People dove out of the way. "Be careful with that big thing," a lady screamed. "You ought to be ashamed."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I said. "I'm just trying to do my job."
I turned this way and I turned that way and then I turned that way, and I kept running behind the big thing calling, "Look out! Everybody look out!"
I saw a bunch of guys on the loading dock at the warehouse. They were hollering and waving their arms at me. The big thing rolled through the gate and headed right at them. They shouted and scattered out of the way as the big thing smashed into the dock. Wood splintered, some boxes fell, glass broke.
A man with a clipboard charged up to me. "What the hell are you trying to do with that big thing, kill somebody?" he screamed. Some guys with tattoos surrounded me and stood around spitting.
"My boss told me to take it down here," I said.
"Well, we sure as hell don't want that big thing here. Why the hell do you think we want that big thing down here?"
" I’m just trying to do my job," I said.
Somebody spat tobacco juice on my sneakers. The guy with the clipboard poked me in the chest. "You got a form?"
"No. Nobody said anything about a form."
"Well, I sure as hell can't take that thing without a form, can I? You're going to have to take that back and get a form."
"Okay," I said. "I'll get a form."
"And don't forget to bring me some avocados while you're at it."
“Okay. Sure."
They all hooted and whistled at me as I tried to get the big thing turned around.
"Crank it, crank the son of a bitch," somebody yelled.
"Where?" They all laughed like ruptured hyenas. "Crank it 'where'?"
They hooted, punched each other in the ribs, slapped hands.
I stood on the dock and shoved and the big thing moved an inch and rolled back. The dock vibrated.
"Get that big thing out of here!" the clipboard guy yelled.
"Okay, I will," I said. I put my feet on the edge of the dock and leaned my back up against the big thing and pushed. It lurched forward suddenly and I fell off the dock and scraped my hands and knees. The big thing wobbled forward on its own.
The gang couldn't take it anymore. They convulsed with laughter. They collapsed and lay down on the dock squirming with laughter. One guy drew himself to his knees and said, "If you don't get that big thing out of here now, I'm going to waste you. I'm going to blow you away. We don't take that kind of crap here. We don't take it."
“I'll get it out of here," I said. I caught up to the big thing. It was rolling now. After it was rolling, it wanted to roll. It loved to roll. it was born to roll. After it was rolling, it would roll.
I didn't want to take the big thing back out on the street. I saw an alleyway. I thought I might be able to go back that way. I leaned my shoulder against the big thing. It decided to go the way I wanted to go.
We zoomed down the alley. We knocked over some trashcans. We scared the hell out of a cat. "Look out, cat," I called. The cat stared after us. Its confidence was shot to hell.
We rolled out of the alley and into a park. When the big thing hit the grass, it really started to move. I couldn't keep up with it. The big thing raced ahead of me. I thought that I had lost the big thing for good, but it smashed into a tree. The tree shuddered. The big thing sat against the tree looking like it wanted to belch. I ran up to it. The big thing looked okay. I was glad the boss hadn't seen me roll the big thing into a tree.
I saw a water fountain and I thought I'd get a drink. I left the big thing by the tree and walked over to the fountain. When I turned around, I saw two jerks rolling the big thing down a grassy hill.
"Hey, that's my big thing," I shouted. I ran after them.
The two jerks saw me coming and they gave the big thing a push and took off running in opposite directions. The big thing gathered speed and rolled down the hill and into a muddy ditch.
I slid down the bank of the ditch and waded through the mud to the big thing. I pushed against it and tried to rock it from side to side, but it was really stuck in the mud. It was starting to sink. I was starting to sink too. I'd gotten my foot caught underneath the big thing and now we were sinking together. I was down to my hips. Then I was down to my chest. The mud was up to my neck. I was going down with the big thing. I felt depressed.
“What the hell are you doing down there with that big thing, Houdini?" the boss screamed from up above me. He got out of a jeep. He spat. His face looked red. A tow truck pulled up behind the jeep. Some guys with tattoos got out and looked down at the big thing and me. The mud was over my chin. They looked at each other and shook their heads and spat.
"I ran into a little trouble," I said. "I was trying to bring this big thing back."
"Why the hell were you trying to bring that big thing back, Galahad?" the boss shouted.
"They said I needed a form."
"You forgot the form? You didn't take the goddamn form?"
"Nobody said anything about a form."
"Nobody said anything? You don't think you just move one of those big things without a form, do you?"
"I guess not," I mumbled. I had mud in my mouth.
"Get a cable around that big thing, boys," the boss said.
The guys with tattoos slid down the bank and looped a cable around the big thing and started hoisting it out. I held on to the big thing and they dragged me out with it. I was covered in mud. I had mud in my eyes.
The boss looked at me and spat. He signaled to a guy who bad a toilet tattooed on his chest. "Joe, take this big thing down to the warehouse and tell them I'm sorry for sending Sappho. Tell them Sappho just didn't know what the hell he was doing."
Joe spat. "No problem, boss."
"They want some avocados too," I said.
"Are you out of your mind, Columbus?" the boss snapped. "You mean you forgot the avocados? You didn't even take the avocados?"
The boss looked stunned. "Jesus Christ," he said to the other guys. "Can you imagine what would happen if they didn't get their avocados?"
The boys whistled and shook their heads.
"How could anyone forget the avocados?" the boss asked in disbelief.
"Am I fired?" I asked.
"Fired? Don't be so goddamn sensitive, Geronimo. Don't you like working here?" The boss got back in his jeep. "If you weren't so muddy, I'd give you a lift."
“Don't worry about it," I said.
"Get some lunch, Tolstoy." The boss spat and drove away.
I walked back to work. I sat down with some guys in the grass. They were grinning at me. They offered me some chips and avocado dip.
"So how do you like those big things?" they asked.
"They're okay," I said.
"You'll get the hang of them."
"Is the boss always like that?" I asked.
They stopped grinning. "Like what?"
"Nothing," I said.
"Hey, the boss is a great guy," they said.
"He seems like it," I said.
"You're new. Just listen and learn. You're going to love it here."
They spat. So did I.


  1. I like this poem it reminds me other MANY jobs I have had where the first day is always hard. Especially if you have a boss like int he poem or like I have and they think you are supposed to know everything is and how to do everything. When they start yelling at you or making comments you feel so low but the good thing to keep in mind is that you know the longer you work there that you will get the hang of it and hopefully you will have help from other co-workers

  2. I don't think this is a poem. Thanks

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  4. It's easy for us to realize that this short story uses most of its conversation in short sentences and simple words. It gives everyone the idea that this is not a big work. We read it to entertain maybe then you forget it but we can't deny that the author has turned a day of a newbie to an exciting piece of reading. With the skill of an enjoyable writing technique and an instinctive humor, he puts us at ease from the opening line.

  5. This has got to be the worst first day ever. Its not the character's fault, the "big thing" got away from him. It was more like a comedy of errors. This reminds me of my first day at my last job. As soon as I walked in someone stormed out who had just been fired. I was his replacement. For the rest of the night I was on pins and needles, I was so afraid of doing something wrong and meeting my replacement.

  6. I really enjoyed this piece because to me my job was somewhat like this but more mentally then physically. I am a dispatcher at the Stafford Police Department and when I first starting I thought it the most challenging of all jobs but now six months later, It because something you get use too.

  7. I liked this piece. It was very amusing. Everything goes wrong and everyone is talking crazy to this guy on his first day at work. His first impression just went out the window.(poor dude). If he drinks, he will have a beer or two after this day. I really like the way the characters were incorporated into the story, Ex: Davinci rolling (paint brush), Houdini quicksand (magician). Maybe I was thinking too much into it. I enjoyed the ending. Although things looked bad, he still had a job. He also learned by his coworkers that his boss is a good guy even though his words appeared harsh.

    I can relate to this poor guy, I worked temp for this attorney and everything had to be done a certain way at a certain time. He wanted me to make coffee and I had no clue how to use the coffee machine. I started the coffee and it overflowed, coffee was every where and I had to clean it up before he came back to the backroom. I was on my hands and knees in my favorite suit, using all his paper towels and paper trying to clean up this mess. I was horrified. I knew he was going to kick me out his office. I got everything cleaned up and the temp agency called me later that evening saying he wanted to hire me on permanently.

  8. I remember a first day experience where by boss handed me a 75 page (25 was argument) motion and told me I have one week to respond. His comments on my work were "Where is the punch?" I worked tirelessly on that first project. I actually one the motion at the hearing. I probably read three hundred pages of books not including the research on the issues to figure out how to respond to a Motion for Summary Judgment.

  9. I like this "First Day." It was definitely a tough one for sure. I would say this is definitely more of a short story rather than poem. I enjoyed the dialogue and the description of the boss. It reminds me of my first day working at the high school I am still employed at. It was one of the toughest days of my life.

  10. This story is sort of funny and yet interesting. Poor guy, I bet many of us felt the same way when we had our first day at work.

  11. I like how they kept calling the item "the big thing" lol, but had that been my first day with a jerk like that I would have dropped "the big thing" on his foot or slapped the dog shish out of him. Lol good poem overall.