The phone rang. It was Lucky.
"How you doing?" he asked.
“No different than last time” I said. “How ‘bout you?”
“I’m so tired of this crap. I want to retire.”
I laughed in knowing acknowledgement.
“You want to get together? Have a few beers, shoot the breeze?"
“Can’t” I said. “So what’s up? You still have a job?”
“Barely” said Lucky.
“What do you mean?”
A long sigh. Then the sound of a bottle being emptied.
“Well, remember how I needed to make my numbers in June, or that was it?”
“Well, I didn’t hit ‘em. Then I got called into Amber’s office, and I walk in and the district manager’s there. I figured it was the end.”
That Lucky figured it was the end meant, of course, that it wasn’t. What bullet had he dodged now?
“They give me this crap about how they’re going to go out on a limb for me, and how they’ve decided to give me one more chance since I’ve been with the company so long. And you know what I find out when I go back on the floor?”
“Janie, our best salesperson, is leaving. And they finally fired this screw-up Jason, so they’re short. They’re not giving me another chance—they’re shorthanded. And with a big sale coming up. Assholes.”
I laughed. “So that’s a bad thing? You have a paycheck for another month, plus some commission. What’s the problem?”
“Those assholes acting like they’re doing me a favor. Piss on ‘em! They think I’m some kind of idiot. I sat there hat in hand and said ‘thank you’ and ‘I appreciate it’. God.”
“That’s why it's called work” I said. “That’s why we need to be paid to be there. Who the hell would put up with it for free?”
Lucky huffed in affirmation.
It being nearly ten PM, I didn't want to further ignite his/mine/our considerable rage, so I nudged the conversation in another direction.
“You hear anything on that gig you took the personality inventory for?"
“Yeah. I interviewed Tuesday. The HR person is on vacation, but the manager said they’d like to move on it when she gets back.”
“Wait. So you have another job lined up?” I began to laugh. Lucky was great therapy.
“It looks that way.”
I collapsed into laughter. I couldn’t stop. I needed to investigate the possibility of having Lucky purchase lottery tickets for me.
“I’m glad you’re in such a great mood!”
I was able to stop only long enough to ask a question.
“Can you do me a favor? Look out the window and tell me if there’s a truck parked outside that says Publisher’s Clearing House on it and a bunch of people approaching your front door with balloons.”
“Ha ha” said Lucky.
“I’m serious! I can’t believe you!” I said. “It’s incredible! Every time you come close to being fired, it's like a giant bird swoops down and saves your ass! You're fireproof!”
Delirium set in as I pondered my friend. Life will seemingly not allow him to lose a job, nor me to find one.
The contrast is remarkable.