Cartoon Socialism

23 October 2010, 10:13

“Shut the door. I want to tell you about my ‘evil masterplan’.”

He snickered at his own words. He was way more Muttley than Dastardly, clearly, even in physical presence. His head, in a perpetual slump, even bobbled each time he reacted. “Laughing” was too generous a description; whatever sense of humour he possessed was frozen in development from when he was 7 years old. It was snickering, and it was invariably either his own Midwest snobbery for anything generated outside of his parents’ house or it was a pretext for an intrusion. Either way, it made David’s stomach uneasy. The other shoe seldom dropped on anyone else.

Muttley continued. David sitting down was barely a requirement for him to begin animatedly describing the “masterplan”. The simile was stupidly accurate, since like the cartoons it was ripped from, his masterplans always blew up in his own face. An office that once boasted hundreds was now down to a skeletal crew on a sinking ship. “I’ve decided to have you train everyone in the department in what you know. That way, you’ll be covered and have less work.”

David couldn’t decide whether Muttley was genuinely oblivious to the flimsiness of his position or if he was simply an exceptionally poor liar in spite of a lifetime’s practice. A teacher making an example of a gum-chewing student by demanding, “do you have enough to share with the entire class?” is not an experience that would ever justify singling an individual out for hard-earned advantage and unique experiences with the same demand. Muttley’s position was that everyone in his staff deserved to be the same but he was incapable of realizing and taking the necessary steps. Of course, he considered his own bloated salary to be an entitlement.

After a slight pause to consider this and with the slightest hint of resignation, he forwarded, “So, you want me to become the department trainer in addition to my present responsibilities?” He knew his move was played with wasted strategy, the game was always rigged. True quality is seldom subject to numbers; numbers can easily be fake.

Muttley didn’t know how to react. Genuine puzzlement glazed over his face. He quickly decided David was less smart and needed him to explain his idea patiently. “No, we’re not asking you to move you to another position or take on any formal responsibilities. You have too many responsibilities. That’s why we want you to take on this extra effort, so that when it’s done, you’ll have less to do.” Which was eminently true, thought David. By having “trained” everyone, the incentive to keep me employed would evaporate and I would have significantly “less to do.” At least the “evil” part was accurate.

Because sometimes futile gestures are the most artistic, David drew another breath. “Would it not be easier to simply pay me more for what I do, since you’ve already acknowledged I have qualifications, skills and performance above and beyond the standard requirement for this position?”

Muttley stared blankly for a moment as David waited for the logic to slide off as it invariably did.

Then, he snickered.

Rodney Eric Griffith



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