Friday, June 16, 2006

SPARED

*Pics loader is lame again*
Steve Bawls is at it again. The bastard has been out of control for some time now. My alter ego has gone and got hisself into some trouble. READ ON:

All week long I have been PARANOID.

I am the primary vanpool driver. I am the man. If something goes wrong, it is on me. Monday, I had to run some hot errands off-site. I was running late. I called Venkat the enforcer to tell him to tell the rest of the passengers that I was running late. Then I put my foot into the gas pedal and get to it.

There is this hill I have to drive up to get to work. It is pretty steep and the local public transit is on that road. I say this, because they have vans that say "Vanpool" on the back of them too. Let me tell you that I was charging up that road at 50mph. It is a 35 mph zone. Then I got into the parking lot and tore towards my people. If a car had backed out, or a dazed testmaker had stepped out at that time, they would have been SMOKED POINT BLANK.
My riders stepped off the curb and gave me universal hand signals telling me to slow down. I did just that. Brake spike. I loaded them up. Then I was all apologies all the way home. I took a good ribbing in the process. Something about having to buy them all donuts. Something about us being the last out of the parking lot. I took all of this grief. I took it in stride, I was late.

We have a good microcosm. There is some good banter, and some good running jokes. But my being late was the conversation piece that day. All of this talk I have about being on time. I even have their computers set to remind them to go to the vanpool starting at 4:00 and ending at 4:15. That means that they are 15 minutes LATE by the time they get downstairs at 4:30. Egg on my face? You have no freaking idea. WTVR. I got them all home within 5 minutes of our usual landing time.

No big deal.

Or so I thought.

The next day, I got the email announcement for the quarterly meeting of the vanpool riders. Blah blah blah, purchase cards, blah blah blah, maintenance, blah blah blah ridership numbers, blah blah blah REPORT OF RECKLESS DRIVING. I knew that it was a reference to me, I just didn't know when the offense had occurred.

Let me tell you something: I am a loose cannon. Behind that wheel, I will do what I need to do to get to where I need to go. I have run my share of yellow to red lights and done more than one illegal u-turn. I have taken that van up to 85 in a 65 MPH zone. I can't tell you how many stop signs I have rolled or how many lanes I have changed without a turn-signal. Fort Ord is on 25 mph because of construction. I do 50 though that place DAILY. I am not quite a lunatic. I just have an agenda. Furthermore, with all of this crazy driving that I do, I am usually locking horns with someone in the van about the value of a new computer program, or the validity of our current war versus Vietnam while I am driving. There is a lot of laughing and a lot of clowning around. I usually have my MP3 player jacked into the cassette deck and have a low rumble of something offensive in the background. I am usually eating baby carrots by the handful, drinking coffee and steering with my knees. I really need to tone it down.

I push it. I have been pushing it for some time. I think that my riders know that I have driving skills, so they cut me slack as I swerve here and there. I drag race with Jason (the Santa Cruz driver)through Fort Ord. Sometimes it gets close, it is always ugly. Horns blare when we pass each other. Cell phones light up. Steve Bawls makes phone appearances. Good times. There is this other van starting up though. The Hollister van. Those people are a little stiff. Some are probably in need of a good ass-whupping.

I was thinking that the Hollister people might have reported something.

I started to fish. First, I put the cursory email out to Debbie, telling her that I would be at the meeting, and then asking what the report for reckless driving was. debbie has had my back since my day 1 writing the tests that you fail. She got back to me. Apparently, someone in human resources had seen be blasting up the hill on Monday. NOT GOOD.

She told me who the rat is.

The rat is MARKED.

I went and talked to Peter (see the post "He is Magnificent, I am Miserable"). Peter put the fear into me.

"Oh, I have the whole story alright. I thought that they were talking about me." He said this with a look of angst and horror screwed onto his face.
"I drive that thing like a madman. You know that cigar box that you guys keep? Last time I drove that thing, I had to go into the back of the van to get the cigar box and move it back to the front."

Let me tell you, I have never been able to make the cigar box slide backward. It is full of tickets and papers. There is no weight to the thing. Maybe to the side on a turn, but backwards? I can't pull those kinda g's without a supreme disregard for all life in my radius. But Peter, that magnificent bastard that he is, does things with a level of gusto that I just don't maintain. Imagine what I just wrote about my psychotic driving..imagine it MULTIPLIED BY 3. That is how this other guy handles business.

The story? Apparently HR woman was a-scared as she saw me rip on past her. Apparently they called one of my newer riders to get the time straight. I was bombing up the hill at 4:38. So they called my newer rider and asked her what time the van had been in on Monday. They did their detective work and now they had me.

Thursday was the big meeting. I sweated it out. I mentioned to the other vanpool drivers that they were going to see me publicly scourged. I was bracing my ego for the deathblow when they would inevitably ask me to turn in my keys. All of the paranoia was there. I was basically a mess. I was also repentant.

So the meeting starts. I am all sheepish. I feel like an ass. The meeting is going and going and I am waiting for the big reckless driving report. John, the meeting proctor, is a badass. He peppers his speech with "damn," "hell" and "friggin". He peppers the meetings he proctors with the same words.
An example: "I know we all want to get the hell back to our desks, and I will try to keep this meeting within a friggin' hour..."

There are stories that circulate the floor about how John has ripped someone a new orifice just because they didn't wear their yellow hat right in a safety exercise or some trash. Don't get me wrong, I get along with John. I think that the man is cool. He has cut me a lot of slack, and he will throw down a word like "magnanimous" as fast as he will drop a "damn". He is an erudite blue-collar man in a white-collar setup doing blue-collar things. I was ready to take my lashing from John. God knows I have earned it. This Steve Bawls thing is just the tip of the iceberg, people.

Then he got to the point.
"Ok, next topic: RECKLESS DRIVING. Look, I know how it is when you run an errand off-site and you have people waiting for you. Of course you are going to drive fast. I think that this subject has been talked about enough, and there is no real reason to address the issue anymore."

CASE DISMISSED.
I voiced a "It won't happen again, John." and that was as far as it went. I was truly shocked by the amount of play he left for me on this one.

I am still in shock. I was so ready to turn in my keys or take whatever disciplinary measure that they had for me.

All I know is that the next time I am late, I will have to be driving so fast that the properties of air and land will bend around me so that if someone from HR sees me, they will be caught in some sort of time vortex and question their personal reality as I go to pick up my people.