“What are ya in for?” Hannibal King, the lead hash slinger at the St. Mia Farrow Shelter for Starving Artists and Underpaid Academics, always welcomed newcomers to the chow line with the same accusatory greeting. Hash slinging “volunteers” typically came from one of three groups: members of the civic organization known as the Fraternal Order of the Grand Misconception, politicians looking for positive press coverage while hiding from scandals, or criminals working off community service obligations. Sometimes, the latter two were indistinguishable.
“The company I work for sent me here for sensibility training,” replied the novice potato plopper.
“You mean sensitivity training?” asked and/or corrected Hannibal. His multiple advanced degrees in Middle-Korean Cuisine, History of Lederhosen, and European Hygiene (with an emphasis on Minimalist French Body Follicle Removal) empowered Hannibal to seize upon these teachable moments.
“Nope. The name is Stachieu Fademendowski,” the newcomer said as he extended his polyethylene-gloved hand out to Hannibal. “The company I work for decided I wasn’t sensible enough and I needed more training in that regard.
Hannibal shook his hand and nodded to the affirmative — although, he had no idea as to what this guy was talking about.
“Sensibility training?” he asked, hoping for a clearer explanation.
“The president of the company had a suggestion box installed — I made some suggestions,” smirked Mr. Fademendowski.
“End world hunger, reduce the national debt, and increase employment by eliminating UN funding and replacing it by sending a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to every one of the world’s six billion occupants.”
“Seven billion,” corrected Hannibal. “There are more than seven billion people on this Earth.” Hannibal enjoyed teachable moments.
“Well, that explains why that idea wouldn’t work,” Stachieu mused. “I think it would have worked just fine with only six billion. That extra billion folks really messes with my math.” Fademendowski pretended to do imaginary math problems in the air. “Another one of my suggestions was to clean the environment with Lava soap — you know, pumice — organic and all that stuff.”
“Lava soap?” questioned Hannibal.
“Sure. It makes a lot of sense. They use Dawn dishwashing detergent to clean ducks after oil spills. Why not Lava soap on everything else — including the mouths of NBA players, rappers, and fourteen-year-olds? Things get cleaned and more American workers get a paycheck from Proctor and Gamble.
“WD-40,” corrected Hannibal. “Lava isn’t made by P&G. It’s made by the same company that makes WD-40.” Hannibal was on a roll with his teachable moments.
“Interesting,” replied the new hash slinger. “You sure know a lot about things I never wanted to know anything about.”
“Thank you,” gushed Hannibal, after hearing only the first five words of Stachieu’s response. “Why did you get sent here for this ‘sensibility training’?”
“At our company, specialized training, like this, came out of a professional development fund. However, those funds were reallocated for even more important things, such as commissioning a study on why top tier employees keep leaving for better paying jobs.”
And you were sent here, because…?”
“It was free…and I could do it on my day off.”
Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. His optimistic “glass full to overflowing” view of life shapes his writing. His essays stem from experiences, compilations and recollections from friends and family. Wilson touts himself as “a dubiously licensed teller of tall tales, sworn to uphold the precept of ‘It’s my story; that’s the way I’m telling it.’” He can be reached at email@example.com.
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