Friday October 7, 1983
The following is a true story based on a real incident that occurred on Friday October 7, 1983. The modification of this introduction took place on Sunday December 19, 2010.
Friday October 7, 1983
.Surrey, B. C. Canada
Music to Every Breath You Take:
Melody for Every Breath You Take
Friday October 7, 1983 was a typical Indian summer day; a combination of crisp air, blue skies, and the left over warmness of a former season. Chuck was feeling good about himself and his life as he made his way to work that morning. It was the end of another week and the weather was holding up nicely. He swung his car into the parking lot and parked close to the entrance of the store. He stepped out of the car confidently, smelled the clean, fresh air and entered the store.and the song he had been listening to was dancing in his head as he made his way into the office. ‘Every Breath You Take’ by the ‘Police’ was on the top of the charts and it was his favorite song that morning. He had just recently purchased the tape because it reminded him of Katy, one of the girls who worked in the store. Chuck was her boss and the crush he had on her consumed him.
Chuck had just been listening to a cassette
Chuck had just been listening to a cassette
He had fallen in love with the girl during the course of the summer. It was the happiest time of his life. Nothing is better than being in love. It was a form of ecstacy Chuck concluded. Katy did not know about the really serious nature of this crush, but she knew that he liked her. Because he told her that he liked her. In fact, he had told her more than once that he considered her to be special. He let his feelings be known to her, but Chuck also knew that Katy did not feel the same way. He wanted her to like him, but he knew that the things concerning love have to occur naturally. Now, Chuck had been in love previously and felt the pain of rejection so he was reluctant to get involved again. He did not want to do it. But, somehow, Katy had just snuck up on him. He was being drawn into her physically. Katy did not really have to do anything. He remembered how it started by just being next to her and how he had to pretend sometimes that she had no effect on him. He had to pretend that he didn’t like her; he had to conceal his emotions. But, eventually everyone came to know. He remembered one time one of the other ladies whispering. " he thinks he is too old for her. " So, they knew. Everyone knew. Of course they knew. People aren’t stupid. In fact, it was only a couple of weeks ago that one of the staff members bought Chuck a gift. It was a record. He didn’t remember mentioning the fact that the song " It’s All in the Game " by Tommy Edwards was his favorite all-time song.
Katy was only seventeen years old, but you would never know it. She had long dark hair and often wore it in a pony tail. Chuck thought that was sexy. She was a tall and slender girl, with a somewhat gangly appearance. She had a sharp face and smooth white skin. Her breasts were not overpowering, but rather, formed part of a evenly shaped figure. And, she was intelligent, opinionated and very earnest in her ways. Chuck was very impressed with her work skills and he figured that she was on some kind of a personal mission, mostly because of her quick movements. She was a very determined girl and Chuck was convinced that Katy was no ordinary seventeen year old. One time, he told her that and she smiled and was clearly flattered by such a revelation from her boss. But, Chuck was quite sure that Katy was fully aware of her attributes and her ability to attract the opposite sex. He remembered the goofy looking hat she wore one time which she played with in front of her boyfriend, teasing him and taunting him and demanding to be the center of attention.
He was getting the store ready to open and was making small talk with other workers in the store. He wished Katy was there helping him in person. She was there in his mind of course like she always was. He laughed inside thinking how her laugh could drive him crazy. She laughed at the smallest things and the stupidest things too. Like, when someone had a misfortune, of any kind. That was funny to Katy. Anything unusual was worth laughing about. But, the important thing was that she laughed. And, she laughed around him. And, he knew that was a powerful signal coming from a girl. A signal of acceptance. Her strong laugh could draw a man into her. It was a laugh that called you and cemented you to her emotionally. She loved life and made you feel good.
Chuck got up from his office chair and moved toward the front entrance of the store and just stopped and stared at it One of the girls was washing the windows and he watched the water dribble down the glass and onto the ground. The water reminded him of Katy. The time it was pouring rain outside and Katy entered the store soaking wet. She looked like a little puppy that needed help and someone to love. Standing in the store entrance she bent over slightly and brushed away the dark wet strands of hair that had fallen over her eyes. The turquoise shirt that she wore was soaked in rain. She looked like a helpless little orphan. Chuck wanted to run over and hug her, but he could not.
He did another walkabout of the store to make sure everything was OK and running. Satisfied that everything was functioning smoothly he retreated back the silence of his office and more paperwork and more private thoughts. More dreaming about Katy. He would spend more time in the store itself when it got busier, but for now he preferred the solitude of his office retreat He looked up and saw a picture pinned to the wall. It was just an ordinary photo of one of the staff that someone had put up. Just something else to remind him of Katy. Everything in that store reminded him of her. It was almost an obsession. Was this some kind of curse thinking about her all of the time? He didn’t care if it was. Everything she did made him happy and that is all that mattered. The photo made him think of his postcard that Katy sent him during the summer. During the summer Katy had gone on a trip to California with her parents and Chuck missed her. The store always felt empty when she was not there and it was especially hard for him when she went on vacation. She had made him come alive and gave him a reason for living, a reason to keep coming back to that store. He was sure though, that she had no idea how much she meant to him, even if he had told her that he liked her. She probably just thought her boss " liked her " and that was all. He asked her to send him a post card from her trip. He looked in the mailbox everyday to see if it would come. And, finally it arrived. The post card was done up in black and turquoise and an accompanying caption read: ‘ San Francisco is for lovers ‘ What a clever girl he thought. He was glad she was back. Laughing and playing and making him happy to be alive.
Chuck worked through the day shift without any major complications arising. The sun was still shining brightly during the later afternoon and it was still warm outside. The shift was coming to a close and soon Katy would be coming to work. He was in a particularly upbeat mood thinking how Katy had recently dumped her boyfriend. Maybe he could get closer to her now. Soon, she would be walking through the doors. He would get to see her and talk to her and be near her once again. He was feeling good about himself and life and the working relationship he was having with Katy. He did a walk about throughout the store and began to get things ready for the next shift manager. He heard a voice behind him." Chuck can I talk to you for a minute? "
He turned in the direction of the voice and saw that it was the District Manager for the area. His name was Raymond Burnside And, standing next to him was the President of the Company, Darnell Eliason. Chuck had good deal of respect for Raymond as he was just recently promoted and was eager to learn the tools of the trade of those in upper management. Raymond was very robust and jovial figure and came across as a helpful, friendly manager. Chuck thought he was well polished and knew his trade and that he just wanted to succeed in his new role. He was a complete ‘ Yes Man ‘ in Chuck’s eyes.
Darnell, however, was a different kind of animal Chuck surmised He was part of the organization that had just bought the Company. They were Americans. He was a complete outsider by Chuck’s way of thinking. He was authoritarian and over bearing. Just too aggressive and domineering. Chuck was quite convinced that the man did not like him, but it took him a little time to figure this fact out. Some of the comments he made appeared negative and unusual for a man he rarely saw. He could feel the tension sometimes between them when they had brief encounters. He wasn’t sure if he was the only one who felt this way since he never asked any other managers about his concerns in this area. There was a kind of probation period during the transition and Chuck has survived this administrative detail. Chuck only saw Darnell occasionally and he figured he just had to tolerate him when he made his infrequent appearances in the store.
Darnell was about the same age as Chuck, in his early thirties. He had dark hair and a moustache, and was essentially, a full figured man in comparison to Chuck’s slight build. He appeared friendly and he smiled a lot. But, behind that smile Chuck sensed a shrewdness. An outward smile, but not a smile you could count on. Chuck could not accept his gestures because he just sensed that there was something inherently wrong with their relationship. But, he did not really know what the problem was. Chuck knew that this man was his equal in terms of education, or at least, that is the way he presented himself. But, Darnell was the boss and he was not, so it was just best to keep out of the man’s way. But, Chuck just hoped his visits to the store were infrequent and short. And, he tried to block out of his mind any difficult moments that they had between them. There was no bonding and no social functions to complete the relationship between him and Darnell. And, Darnell did not come across as a man with a social conscience anyhow. His leadership role seemed to be the only thing that concerned him.
He was also an American and Chuck was a Canadian. To Chuck’s mind that implicitly meant that they most likely had different values anyway. Another source of contention to deal with. Chuck had worked with Americans in past jobs. He had lots of experience in the carnival business before he got his present job. Americans were his bosses at certain times. He knew about their personalities and how they conducted themselves when they intermingled with Canadians. He knew sometimes they felt superior and they were aggressive when it came to matters of business. He remembered when he was only fifteen years old and working in the carnival business, his first summer job. One of his experiences was with a man called Harry Cooper from New York. He ran all the bingo games and he must have been pretty wealthy. But, anyhow, here is a guy that was so picky about his business that he has to take time out and show a fifteen year old kid just how to hold a goddamn paintbrush. Chuck really chuckled inside of himself thinking about Harry and his mannerisms. " Now, here is how you hold a paintbrush son. " he used to say. Everything had to perfect and done in the way the boss wanted it to be done. That was one of his first experiences with American businessmen and he never forgot that. Never.
Chuck worked with American bosses and just plain old workers too. Some of his working partners were even his friends. American friends. He was even invited to a Jewish wedding in Seattle, Washington on account of one his carnival pals getting married. On another occasion he stayed overnight, in a house just north of Portland, Oregon with a friend whose father was a major figure in the carnival business. He worked with Americans in the Canadian prairies with a very large American amusement company. He saw how they organized things. This large amusement company was run just like the military and totally organized. He knew how Americans operated their businesses. He worked in Los Angeles, California as well. He worked with his southern neighbors and he learned from them. Most of his American bosses, however, accepted Chuck on his own terms. Because they were carnival people just like Chuck. And, carnival people are aggressive and they like to think they understand human behavior. That is their business, to know how people think and why they do the things that they do. He could kid around with his American superiors in the carnival business, because that was part of the business, to kid around and to play mind games. That is how you made money in the carnival business, by being aggressive and selling and gaining peoples’ confidence. You lured people in and then you sold them something. Because that was your job. To convince people to spend money and to keep spending money. Owners and workers alike had a mutual understanding and respect for one another because they were doing the same job and they were most likely being paid on commission as well. That meant they had an interest in working together as opposed to against one another. There was a built in incentive to be friends.
Chuck could kid around in the carnival business with his bosses, but this new boss was different. He did not want to kid around with Chuck. Maybe there were others he did not want to kid around with either, but Chuck was not aware of them. He made an attempt to be nice to Darnell, to gain his friendship, but Darnell appeared disinterested in the gesture. Darnell made some kind of statement, Chuck could not recall the details exactly, but Chuck retorted with: " you gotta be kidding " Darnell’s response was: " I don’t kid around. " Chuck felt uncomfortable with that kind of response because he knew the man was rejecting him. All the more reason to just keep out of his way. Don’t even try to be nice or friendly because the man was simply not interested He was just too much into his role as the top man. Too immersed in his power. That is all that mattered. And, he seemed to want obedience. He wanted people to like him, and to respect him and in return, to control them. Chuck had Darnell pegged for a certain type of American business man, one who is only interested in profits and servility. Chuck could try to provide the profits, but servility was another matter entirely.
All in all, Chuck did not particularly like Darnell and his authoritarian ways. The man could enter the store smiling, wearing a tie and pretending to be friendly, but Chuck just knew better. Because he understood people and their behavior. He took the position that he did not have to like him anyway. He would only have to pretend to like him, if he had to, that is. Why should he have to like a president who is hardly there? It was not Chuck’s job to like this man. Technically, he was an intruder in the business. Others handled the day to day business of management anyway. He was a redundant, unwanted figure. He did not belong in a store trying to control peoples’ lives. Chuck knew that and that is why he knew he was not obligated to like a man if a man did not like him Why waste the time and effort on somebody who cannot or will not appreciate you? Just tolerate him and hope he disappears from your life as fast as he entered it. That was his philosophy concerning this man.
But, there were other reasons not to like Darnell as well. More substantial reasons. More personal ones. Now, Chuck being in love with Katy he did not like the way Darnell socialized with Katy when he was in the store. Chuck knew that Katy would be impressed with this man and his power. And, he drove a BMW as well. Two things Katy might be interested in. Money and power. All girls were interested in these things. But, here they were here as big as life and knocking on her door. This bothered Chuck a lot, but of course he could not really say anything. But, Darnell was just too personal with her. He took time out to notice her, and to flirt with her. They were just having fun anyway he figured. Just harmless flirting. And, Katy liked the attention too. All girls like attention. He liked it when she was happy, but he did not like it when Darnell was providing the happiness. Chuck was jealous and he hoped that the flirting between Darnell and Katy would just subside and fade away completely. He did not think it would amount to anything. Or he hoped it wouldn’t at any rate.
Raymond and Darnell stood together at a distance, two large men with beaming faces, beckoning Chuck.
" Chuck we need to talk to you, can you come with us? " Raymond questioned.
Chuck acknowledged the presence of the two men and then followed them to the little office downstairs. He was thinking that the last time he was down in the basement it was with Katy and another worker. They had been talking about the seasons and the fact that the Fall was Chuck’s favorite time. Indian summer was a special time, a quiet peaceful time. Serene was the key word he thought. He was in a fairly upbeat mood and all three of them settled themselves at the small table in a corner of the room. They sat at a table with Chuck facing the two men. Raymond sat on his left and Darnell sat on his right. Chuck was pretty sure the meeting was about his possible promotion or being transferred to another store. There were quite a few changes going on in the stores so what else could it be about? He was worried that he would not be with Katy and that was the only thing which really bothered him about leaving the store. He would let Katy know right away about his promotion or transfer. Chuck was seated directly across from Darnell. Darnell was mentally preparing his opening remarks. Chuck was fixated on Darnell’s face. His eyes were serious looking, the slight smirking smile, and the black moustache. Darnell clasped his hands together and then his whole body moved in Chuck’s direction and the words started to flow out his mouth:
" Chuck the relationship isn’t working. "
Chuck did not fully grasp the meaning of this statement as he was not expecting it. He knew though that this was not a good opening line for a discussion about his future prospects with the Company. He still did not fully grasp the intended meaning of the words and thought perhaps that he was going to be coached on how to improve his performance. He dismissed this possibility, however, because he realized there was more going on here.
Then the true meaning of Darnell’s words took hold. Chuck was being fired. It was a sick, ugly feeling. A feeling of not belonging and not being wanted. Like being rejected by a woman, the same kind of painful sensation. Except, firing was even worse than female rejection because someone is casting you aside and taking away your economic livelihood as well. It was a devastating moment for Chuck. He had never been fired before. Without hesitating he knew he had to defend himself against this attack. An attack from someone he did not like and from someone who did not like him. This was going to be a war. A war of words and personalities. And, Darnell had drawn first blood.
He did not know why he was being fired, but, he knew now that he was. There would be no escaping this fact. This was it. The real thing. Raymond started to make some comments about performance but Chuck was not really listening to what he was saying. He did not like the intent of this meeting as was not about to take this firing lying down.
He did not believe or trust these two individuals that he now confronted. They were ganging up on him and he was all alone to defend himself. What could he do? What could he say in his defence? It was two against one and that was that All he could do was to stand his ground and tell them that they were wrong. It was one man against two authoritarian figures. Two people determined to remove him from the organization. He was wondering what the real reason for his ousting from the Company was. Which one of these two figures would be the more believable? What were the real reasons for being dismissed on a Friday afternoon at the end of a working shift?. Why did this man, this man that had the power to make you his friend or his enemy want to get rid of Chuck?
And, then Darnell spoke again:
" How come you never said hello to me? "
Chuck had to internalize and process the meaning of this comment. The president of our Company is asking me why I do not like him Chuck thought. Was Chuck really supposed to respond to a statement like that?
Chuck pondered the situation.
He wondered if he should call him a fucking prick like he really thought he was and just call him a goddamn American fascist from somewhere back East where they all come from anyway. Or, maybe he should confront him with his intrusions in the lives of the staff, like flirting with Katy. Did Darnell know that he was in love with the girl? Is this why he needed to flirt with the girl that he was in love with? Just to piss him off. Because the word was out that he liked her. Should he mention Katy’s name?
Or, should he just say: " Well, you don’t like me either anyhow and I know you did not want me to succeed here and you know that. " Should he proceed along those lines?
Should he just get everything off his chest while he had a chance? He was a condemned man anyway, so why not just let the man know how he really felt? And, then just get up and leave, satisfied that he got the last shot in. Why not warn the man that if he ever touched Katy he would hear about it? Just to let him know that he would still be out there and that he would just know. Someone would let him know.
Should he just remind this man that he did not like the idea of him flirting with Katy and remind him about the time he whisked by Katy and flicked her pony tail just to let her know that he was interested in her? Should he do that and embarrass him in front of his underling? Get the information out and get even with him. Let his ‘yes man’ know about the true nature of this man? What could Chuck do in the face of all of this madness and the hurt that was starting to engulf him. He blurted out:
" You’re wrong. "
The president of the Company jerked his head back in disbelief and he had the appearance of being afraid of Chuck He was clearly agitated by Chuck’s remark. Chuck had made a direct hit on the man. . His plan was back firing. He expected Chuck to take defeat like some kind of a subservient slave. No way. Chuck would not give him the satisfaction of admitting defeat, of agreeing that he was incompetent. Not a chance. There was much more at stake here and he knew it. He had to stand up to the president and foil his plans. That was the satisfaction that he got. The only satisfaction, but at least it was something. The president wanted Chuck to quit. To admit his weaknesses in front of a witness. Chuck was not going down easily. And, if he had to go down he had to go down fighting. There was no other way.
Darnell tried a different approach. With a straight face and a smile to match he made an offering to Chuck:
" We can be friends Chuck after this is all over. You can come into the store at anytime and have a coffee with me. "
Chuck couldn’t believe his ears. To think that he would come into the store and have a coffee with him when it was all said and done. That is what the man suggested to Chuck. That they be friends and everyone would live happily ever after. Think about the logic of the suggestion. The man has asked the question. " Why did you never say hello to me? " meaning, he is suggesting that Chuck does not like him. And, we know that he clearly does not, or at least respect him at any rate. So, why would a man who is just being terminated want to sit down and have a coffee with a man who has taken away from him the only thing that mattered in his life, namely the relationship with a young girl? Does the man know or care about this aspect of Chuck’s life? And, that relationship now destroyed in the process of the firing. What is the logical consistency in that kind of thinking? And, even setting apart the issue of the girl, for the man may simply might not have know about Chuck’s affections for the girl, why does he act in such a disingenuous manner? He indicates that he does not like Chuck and suggests that Chuck does not like him. So, how does he expect Chuck to like him afterwards? Where do people learn to think like that? It is akin to whipping a slave and then asking him to thank you for the pleasure of the beating. The man has been watching too many American movies or maybe it is the culture that he was brought up in that makes him act like that.
Chuck knew this was the end. The end of everything he had dreamed about. The happiness he had achieved. All down the drain with one simple statement by the man. " the relationship isn’t working " Your goddamn right it isn’t working. Because you did not want it to work. Chuck wondered how he could drive his point home. Where was the psychological success going to come from? It would come from standing his ground. He would not quit. He knew that firing someone is a form of weakness of management. It just proves their incompetence. Their inability to manage people and their emotions and of people who think differently than them, or bother to think at all. Some people are just slaves or yes men. But, Chuck was neither and the man never took time out to find out about the real Chuck because he could not. His personality would not allow it. Surely Chuck could leave a message for him. Something for Darnell to ponder in his later years and in his future relations with human beings. Yes, the world is full of people. People that have emotions and dreams. They want to keep their pride intact and not have it destroyed by a foreigner. A foreigner trying to dictate policy and impose a different set of values, by force if necessary. Darnell was the proverbial ‘Ugly American’. This is the way Chuck was reading the situation. He had to defend himself, his country and its values.. Chuck had to save Canada and his woman from these foreign invaders. He had to take a stand and be firm.
And, that is what Chuck did on that day. He stood his ground and he fought. And, he fired a shot back. He fired that shot for Katy.
Katy, the young girl who was not there to see him fight and would not understand what he was fighting for even if she was.
It's All In The Game (sound clip) http://www.foreveroldies.com/lovesongs/itsallin.mp3
Carl Baydala, copyright 2006
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Picture was taken on April 12, 2007