We have a new guy, Hubert. Well, he’s not exactly new. After twennie years at AW20 Planning, he just became redundant when production of this business jet turbofan engine moved to our Polish subsidiary. Not having upgraded his skills, Hubert found his butt out here with us at Receiving Inspection(RI).
Hubert would surely have got laid off had he been white. In a bleeding heart, equal opportunity, affirmative action, politically correct joint like Canada, laying off a black can be more trouble than retaining him. All he has to do is claim that he was being discriminated against on account of his color and the employer has an unwinnable lawsuit and bad press on his hands.
But don’t go getting the impression blacks are somehow privileged here in Canada. All that affirmative action shit doesn’t stop cops in squad cars from flagging down a late model luxury car, in a secluded lane, with a black guy at the wheel, commanding him to get off and then beating the shit out of him in the dead of the night for no reason other than the fact that a black can’t possibly own a jazzy BMW. But let’s not go there, shall we? I am not the ACLU.
Hubert Walsh is from Jamaica and claims to be a first cousin of Courtney Walsh, the West Indian cricket star known for his sportsmanship at Lahore, in the 1987 World Cup, Pakistan vs West Indies. Abdul Qadir was at the crease and Pakistan needed just 2 runs to win. Walsh ran in to bowl the last ball of the match. As he thundered up to the crease like a locomotive, he suddenly pulled up without delivering. Salim Jaffar, at the non-striker’s end, was by then well out of his crease, heading up the wicket. Walsh could have run him out comfortably but chose not to do so and headed back to bowl the delivery again.
Qadir scored the necessary runs off the last ball and Pakistan won the match. West Indies’ chances of a semi-final place were in jeopardy. Walsh was deservedly feted for his sportsmanship. He even received a hand-woven carpet from a local Pakistani fan. I am hoping Hubert turns out to be like his famous cousin. All indications are that he will.
Anyway, we always need people at Receiving Inspection due to the ever increasing outsourcing activity. RI is where the action is. It’s like a huge day-care center, except that we are all grown-ups, just fooling around, slinging zongs and paperclips at each other. A zong is a rubber band which you hook to two fingers and pull with the thumb and forefinger of your other hand, much like a sling. You point it at some sucker and let go. Stings like hell at close range.
Ours is the only department where everyone zings. ‘To zing’ is a verb. You zing a zong, get it? Of course, we take care ta zing when Nurse Ratched, the boss, is away in one of her countless meetings. Stephane has fixed a Harley rearview mirror on a column next to his desk and he can see anyone coming in, from around thirty feet. Thus, we get a ten second warning before Nurse R turns into our department.
Everyone, except Nurse R, is having a ball here. Nurse R, flatter than Saskatchewan, with a face sardonically twisted like a ‘৫’ (that’s the number 5 in Bengali). She has zero sense of humor, especially raunchy humor. Lazslo once cracked a joke about tits in one of our contact meetings. While the rest of us, including the ladies, were ROFLing, Nurse R’s lips just twitched.
Nurse R can’t take action against anyone making raunchy comments. This is North America. Every normal North American human is making raunchy comments here, all the f—in’ time. You want ta move up the corporate ladder? Unless you are brilliant like Nurse R, you have ta have a personal repertoire of raunchy sayings, believe you me. Even female colleagues have a playlist, trying to out-raunch male colleagues, in an effort to fit into a man’s world. And boy, are they welcome.
If you are chatting around the water fountain with a bunch of colleagues, when one of the ladies just comes up and leans against you, her arm thrown casually over your shoulder, like a male colleague would, you’ll flip if you are a new arrival from the prudish deep east.
Soon, there will be playful pushes, punches, shoves and brushes, female with male. Everything will begin to look run-of-the-mill, the f-word being thrown around by all genders like it was nothing. It won’t be long before your eyelid no longer bats when a female colleague speaks up loudly to no one in particular, as she shuts down her computer just before close, on a Friday, “Bill is in China, its Friday and here I am and God, I so want ta get laid, I can almost taste it….”.
You learn ta recognize that she didn’t mean anything other than to have a laugh and you respond with an appropriately casual, polite titter. Another thing. North Americans are very touchy feely. By now I must have been hugged and kissed on the cheek by around 160 female colleagues. On the lips is a no-no, though it happened to me once or twice and I’ll be damned if I’m going ta tell you about it. Everything has happened to me once or twice, sometimes thrice or even four times. Let’s just leave it at that.
The point I’m trying ta make is that physical contact with a woman here inside a normal daily routine setting is a refreshingly casual and friendly thing. There are no prudish, holier-than-thou women here. Was my female colleague whose husband, Bill, was away in China, decadent and loose? Definitely not. She is in fact a simple and decent human being who likes to be lively and break the ice, inside an often stressful work environment. Morality, I have found to my surprise, is alive and well over here and just as it is held to be, back in the east. It might even be a more stable isotope than the Indian one. There are fewer Mr Hydes lurking behind Dr Jekyll facades.
I have to go now. Nurse R just nominated me Hubert’s mentor for the duration of his orientation program.
Guess I’ll start by showing him how ta zing.