Herb Goes Out In A Huff
They should have seen it coming. It had been building for a long time. Still, the event shocked all who witnessed it and is still talked about in the cafeteria, around water coolers, even in the parking lot as the workforce arrives in the morning and leaves at the end of the day. In this mega-company with facilities throughout the world, “Going Postal” has been replaced with “Going Herb.” The highlight of the annual Christmas Party is “Who Gets the Herbie”?, a prestigious award bestowed upon the worker who committed the most outrageous act of employee disregard for the welfare of the company.
Herb wasn’t so much a loaner as he was an outcast. No one could stand Herb. It was a good day at work if you didn’t cross paths with Herb. Rude, obnoxious, mean, nasty, offensive…and those were his good qualities.
The official TOE (Time of Event) has been chronicled as 11:42 AM though many put it closer to noon. Those closest to Herb’s cubicle and still suffering from PHSD (Post Herb Stress Syndrome) aren’t even sure of the date.
It was said with such volume, such anger, teetering on a primordial scream of anguish-“I quit!!” Gladys, seated in the cubicle directly across from Herb knew something was up when he suddenly executed a leopard-like leap onto his desk, ripped off his shirt and dropped his pants before announcing his resignation. For reasons unknown to anyone, Herb apparently thought his announcement would be more impactful if made in his underwear, much in the mode of Lady Godiva’s legendary ride in the buff to protest a social injustice. All present agreed that it was an attention getter.
The tirade continued.
“I hate this place! I hated Barnes, and I hate the new guy Jones! I hate my cubicle! I hate all of you!!”
Herb’s co-workers looked on in stunned silence while many were impressed with the amount of preparation that must have gone into his departure. The anthem of the disgruntled employee “Take This Job and Shove It!” was blaring out of an I-Pad on Herb’s desk as he gyrated wildly to the music in his underpants. Vigorous twerking with imaginary figures added artistic merit to the performance. He reached down into a box and threw handfuls of shredded paper into the air while shouting “Here’s your freaking Employee Handbook assholes!”
At this point Jones, the new office manager, ran into the room to investigate the commotion. Upon seeing him, Herb pulled down his shorts, bent over and shockingly delivered a full moon salute to his boss. Herb then executed an awkward, yet impressive, foot-shuffling full pirouette so everyone could get the message. It was upsetting for all present, especially for Gladys whose close proximity provided unwelcome detail.
Jones clearly misunderstood the moment.
" Get down from there right now! That’s an order!”
" I guess you missed the first part you freaking moron! I already quit!”
Jones still wasn’t getting it.
Herb, showing great agility for an older man, hopped down to the floor, donned rubber gloves, and grabbed a large bucket from under his desk. As he danced around the office in his underpants shouting obscenities, he sprinkled handfuls of an unknown substance on his co-workers’ desks. The gesture caused an immediate panic as it was known that Herb’s Uncle had a small dairy farm just ten miles from the city. Everyone stampeded to the exit leaving Herb alone to finish his goodbye opus.
With each desk deposit, Herb left a note for the cubicle’s occupant. A sampling:
“Marcie- Thanks so much for the twelve rejections. I hope Frankenstein shows up at your wedding, and then you and Rod rot in hell.”
“Tom- Thanks for tanking my chances with Katie. I hope you rot in hell with Marcie and Rod.”
“Connie- Would it have killed you to sit with me at lunch just one time? Maybe I could have warned you about eating too many chips so you wouldn’t have gotten so fat.”
“Gladys- Why the hell do you think cans of deodorant kept showing up on your desk? Couldn’t you have given yourself a good squirt just one freaking time?”
“Jerry- Thanks for giving Ralph that new chair that I should have gotten. The next time you go swimming in the ocean I hope a shark bites off your wiener.”
“Mister Jones- If you think cream rises to the top, look at it this way- poop floats.”
Herb dressed himself and stepped into Mr. Jones’ office to empty the remaining dried dairy farm dust and clumps onto the rug. He paused at the door, looked back to admire his work, and left.
The next morning a still agitated Mr. Jones called his assistant into his office.
“Thank God that jerk is gone, Jerry. I knew he was trouble the day I arrived.”
“For sure. He certainly was an odd duck.”
“Well, we should probably find a replacement for him as soon as possible, you know, to keep things running smoothly. What did that goof do here?”
Jerry appeared to be deep in thought.
“Uh, I’m not exactly sure. We have Accounting and Sales mixed into the area. We even have a couple people in Customer Relations. I’m not exactly sure what he did.”
“Let’s hope he wasn’t in Customer Relations. You’re the Assistant Office Manager, and you don’t know what he did?”
“Not really. He was here when I got here seven years ago. He was kind of a loner, a real loser to tell the truth. I never had a need to deal with him. I never wanted to deal with him.”
“Well, find out what his duties were. I want to put this whole Herb episode behind me as soon as possible.”
“Say Ralph, Mr. Jones and I were going to start our search for a replacement for that idiot Herb. We’re not exactly sure what to put down for a job description. Maybe you could fill me in on his duties here.”
Ralph looked puzzled.
“Herb? Well, he was on his computer a lot. And he made a lot of phone calls. He wrote stuff down too.”
“Well, was he in Accounting with you?”
“I don’t think so. Ask Tom in Sales. He knows everything about this place.”
“Herb? No, he wasn’t in Sales. I thought he was in Accounting.”
“Are you sure? Ralph says he wasn’t in Accounting. He must have been in Sales.”
“Jerry, I’m the head of Sales. I would know if Herb was in Sales.”
“Gladys, can you tell me exactly what Herb did around here?”
“He bothered people, that’s what he did.”
“Yeah, I know that, but what did he do for work?”
“I have no idea.”
“Gladys, you sat next to him for five years, and you don’t know what he did here?”
“Haven’t got a clue. I tried my best to ignore him. We all did.”
“Connie, did Herb ever do any work in Customer Relations?”
“Oh God, lets hope not. If he did, we probably wouldn’t have any customers.”
“Mr. Jones, I’ve canvassed the entire office, and no one seems to know what Herb did here.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. How are we supposed to replace him if we don’t know what he did?”
“That’s a good point, sir.”
“He was here for twenty-five years. How can no one know what his job was?”
“That’s another good point, sir.”
“Stop it with the ‘good point’ crap, Jerry. I need some help here. Do you have any ideas?”
“Well, I would just call Corporate. They cut the checks. They’ll know what he did. They must have a good job description on file for Herb’s position.”
“Jesus Christ, how do I call Corporate and tell them we’ve had a guy here for twenty-five years and we don’t know what he did?”
“That’s a good…I mean, yeah, that would be awkward.”
“Oh my God, I just remembered. A team from Corporate is coming here next week to review my first three months as Manager. They’ll probably ask about staffing. What if they ask me about the vacancy in Herb’s position?”
“Yeah, that could be a problem.”
“What would I tell them? Dammit! That freaking Herb is a problem even after he’s gone.”
“Well, sir, there is one thing you could do.”
“Call Herb and ask him what he did.”
“Call Herb?! Are you out of your mind?! The guy called me a floating turd!”
“Actually, I think his note said ‘poop’, sir.”
“Jerry, I don’t think there’s a great deal of difference between a turd and a poop.”
“I guess not. I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page.”
“Same page?! What the hell are you talking about?! Poop, turd, bag of shit, what difference does it make? He insulted the crap out of me.”
“That’s kind of funny.”
“You said crap because he called you a poop.”
“Not funny, Jerry.”
Two days passed. Jerry and Mr. Jones tried everything they could think of, but still could not come up with anything on what Herb did during his twenty-five years with the Company.
“Why are you so concerned about what he did here? He’s gone. Be thankful for that.”
Most going away parties are held with the retiree in attendance. Herb’s was held the weekend after he left. It was indeed a festive occasion as the song from “The Wizard of Oz” was sung repeatedly throughout the evening, with modified lyrics.
“Ding-dong, Herb is gone,
Which old Herb?
The wicked one,
The wicked Herb is gone.”
A sense of peace hung over the maze of cubicles Monday morning while stress and worry still reigned in Mr. Jones’ office.
“Jerry, I have an idea on this Herb thing.”
“Well, since I can’t call the jerk, I thought you could call him.”
“He insulted me, compared me to a poop. I can’t call him.”
“Hey, he wants a shark to bite off my wiener. That’s worse than being called a poop.”
“Maybe, but you’re forgetting one thing.”
“I’m the boss. Do you like being the Assistant Manager and having your own office?”
“Hello, what do you want?”
“Hi! Is this Herb?”
“Who wants to know?”
“Jerry, from work.”
“Jerry, you know, the Assistant Manager.”
“Oh, are you that weaselly little red haired butt-kisser?”
“Uh…yeah, I guess that’s me.”
“What do you want butt-boy?”
“Well, we were all talking the other day, and we couldn’t quite remember what you did at the office. So, I thought I’d just give you a call and ask you…maybe, you know, I just thought you could tell me what your job description was.”
“You thought wrong. Get lost, loser.”
“How did it go, Jerry?”
“Not so good.”
“What did he tell you?”
“Nothing. He wouldn’t say a thing about what he did here.”
“We need a Plan B. Think, Jerry think. We’ve got two days.”
“I don’t know. The guy is pretty difficult.”
“Hey, I’ve got an idea.”
“Am I involved in this new idea?”
“Of course. You’re my right hand man. Remember the census thing a couple years ago?”
“Well, you go to his house…”
“…and pose as a census taker. Tell him the last guy forgot to write down what he did for a living, and you just need fill in the missing information. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.”
“That’s not going to work. He’ll recognize me.”
“Put on a disguise…and we’ll get you a badge so you will look official.”
“The guy is a nut job. What if he shoots me?”
“That’s a chance I’m willing to take.”
“How did it go?”
“Not so good.”
“What did he say?”
“He said he hates the Government and anyone who works for the Government. He wouldn’t even open the door. Then I heard a barking, snarling dog. He said if I didn’t leave he’d let the dog out, and it would rip me to shreds. So I took off running.”
“Yeah, that’s it. It sounded like a really big dog, sir.”
“Jerry, if you’ve got upper management ambitions, you can’t be giving up so easily. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Looks like I’m going to have to have to come up with a Plan C myself. Jesus Christ, I have to do everything around here.”
The cubicle dwellers continued to perform their tasks, unaware of the turmoil brewing in the boss’s office, and inside his head. What would he tell the review committee should they ask about the vacant position? He could just make something up about the intensive job search underway. Too risky. He could bring in his deadbeat cousin Mel and have him sit in the cubicle and look busy while the Corporate guys were there. No, someone out there would snitch. Think, Mr. Jones, think.
“Jerry! Get in here.”
“I have another good idea.”
Jerry appeared less than enthused.
“I’m sure you do, sir, What is it?”
“We tell Herb we have a nice retirement gift for him, you know, like a cheap watch or a small plaque, something like that. Then…someone… takes it over to him. He’ll be appreciative of the gesture, and then that…someone… can engage him in conversation and get him talking about what he did here.”
“A retirement gift for Herb? Why would we do that? Everyone hates him.”
“It’s a ruse, you dope. Just to get a foot in the door and get him talking. I thought about…someone…bringing him a nice fruit basket and telling him he was the employee of the month, but he would probably see right through that.”
“Probably, especially since we’ve never had an employee of the month.”
“We’re agreed then. Run out and buy a moderately priced Casio and take it over to Herb’s, butter him up, get him talking. And don’t give up so easily this time. Stay with it until you get the scoop.”
“I can’t go back there! His dog will kill me.”
“Do you like your office, Jerry?”
The first response was a barking, snarling, growling dog.
“Quiet down Killer! Who is it?”
“It’s me, Herb…Jerry from the office.”
“Butt-kisser! What the hell do you want? Oh by the way, has that shark got your wiener yet? Ha, ha, ha!”
This was not making Jerry’s job any easier.
“I have a nice gift for you.”
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
“We all pitched in and got you a nice retirement gift. Everyone gets one after twenty-five years.”
“What is it?”
“A pretty nice watch. I’d like to come in and give it to you, Herb. Then maybe we could chat for a bit.”
“Does it give time and date?”
“Let me check…Yes.”
“Okay, come on in.”
“Uh…Herb, will I be okay with your dog?”
“Oh, don’t worry about Killer. He almost never bites. Come on in.”
Jerry entered slowly, cautiously. He had his eye on Killer the entire visit. It was worrisome that Killer had his eye on Jerry.
“So, you’re Jerry. Yeah, I’ve seen you around the office. You’re the little brown nose who’s always trying to impress the boss. Let’s see the watch.”
Jerry handed over the watch.
“Here’s a small token of our appreciation for all your years of hard work.”
“Yeah, it’s small alright, but I’ll take it.”
“Speaking off all your hard work, just exactly what did you do at work?”
“Oh, a little of this, a little of that. Probably more of this than that.”
“Maybe I was a little too isolated being cooped up in my office. Could you be a little more specific?”
“No, that’s about it. You better get going. Killer gets nervous if someone is here too long. We wouldn’t want him to get your wiener before that shark gets it. Ha, ha, ha.”
“A little of this and a little of that?! What kind of job description is that?!”
“Sorry, Boss. His damn dog was getting agitated. I had to get out of there.”
“For God’s sake, Jerry, I give you a simple task, and you come up with ‘a little of this and a little of that’? I’m surrounded by nincompoops, fools and idiots. Looks like I’ll have to handle this myself!”
Jerry came into work late the next morning. He was immediately summoned to Mr. Jones’ office.
“Well, I solved the Herb problem.”
“Great! How did you do that Mr. Jones?”
“I called him last night. You were right. He wouldn’t say a word about what he did here.”
“So, how did you solve the problem?”
“I convinced him to come back.”
“What?!! Why would you want him back?”
“I was out of options, Jerry. I didn’t want to look stupid to the Corporate guys.”
“Oh my God, Herb back?! And after that meltdown I’m surprised he’d even want to come back.”
“Well, I had to make some concessions.”
Just little things. Like he’ll come in an hour late every morning and leave an hour early, and an extra week of vacation. Oh, and everyone threatened to quit if they would have to sit out there with him again, so he gets his own office.”
“But we don’t have an extra office.”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
Jerry fumed away in his cubicle, distraught at the sight of Herb sitting with his feet up on the desk and resting comfortably in his old office. He was bombarded with Country Western tunes, and nearly rendered senseless by the foul odor emanating from his neighbor’s workspace. Even the less observant in the office could see it was only a matter of time before “Going Herb” would be replaced with “Going Jerry.”
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