Ever been chucked under the bus? So has my mate Mark Weller.
Chucked Under the Bus
By Philippe McMurdo
If Mark Weller had had a dollar for every time he'd been chucked under the bus by someone, he'd have been a much wealthier man.
In five months, he had managed to go through more jobs than the average bloke might go through in a few years. He'd also just about worked himself out of town.
There was the meat factory where he had apparently lost a glove in the mincer causing several boxes of sausages to be recalled, the bakery where it was said that he under-cooked the pies and gave a dozen people food poisoning, and the travel agency where he had supposedly booked the Bronson's on a flight from Auckland to Christchurch instead of Hawaii.
There'd also been that unfortunate business with the real estate office where the rumour was that he had given one-too-many looks towards the boss's daughter, and then at the hunting and fishing store down the main street where he had allegedly placed a fire-cracker in the barrel of one of the shotguns hanging on the shelf, and set it off as a prank. It seemed that Mark had a knack for losing jobs through strange and unusual circumstances. The truth is that he'd had nothing to do with any of the stuff that had got him the boot.
Most of the time he didn't know why he was being called into his respective employers' offices until they'd told him what had happened, and how he was supposed to have been responsible for it. Things had been getting tough for Mark, and he wasn't sure they were going to get any better any time soon. Some would call it rough luck, others would call it hard case, but whatever you wanted to call it, Mark always seemed to end up on the bottom of the pile while someone else stood there shovelling the manure.
Finally, one day after another couple of dismissals where he'd tasted the rubber over everything from only tightening three sets of lug-nuts on Mrs Kindle's car after a warrant instead of four, to a single block of cheese he'd reportedly taken from the supermarket he was stocking shelves in, he'd decided to stop mucking around with low-scale jobs and try for a more up-market environment. Something a bit more professional as it were.
Mark wasn't ecstatic at the thought of going back into any kind of schooling seeing as teachers and him had never really seen eye to eye, but he'd figured that the benefits would soon enough start to outweigh anything he had experienced in these less-professional settings. Couldn't hurt to tune up the old pay-packet a bit either.
There'd been a good night-class at the high school on technical drawing starting up at the time, and within the week he'd found himself sitting at a desk with a large pad of paper, a T-square, and a handful of new 2H pencils.
Before long, Mark had picked up a job working with a feller who had needed an extra hand in the office drafting up houses. The office was on a nice bit of land just a little outside of town - life-style block with a few sheep around, a couple of cows, some chickens, and a granny-flat where the boss's folks lived peacefully in the country air. The main house was occupied by him and his wife, and the office itself was about 30 or so metres from the back door.
Mark turned out to be a dab-hand at the job, It hadn't been long before Mark had been taking on his own clients, and truth be told, was fair n' doing an even better job at it all than the boss. As long as he chipped into the pot, the boss didn't seem to mind at first, but whether it was for this reason or something else, things started going south on him again.
About the same time he'd started working on some plans for a silk-stockinged bloke up round the Cashmere Hills, he'd noticed complaints starting to come his way from some folks who's plans he hadn't touched or even seen. It didn't take long to work out what was going on around the place - the boss was chucking him under the bus for anything and everything that had been going wrong with his own work.
It could comfortably be said that Mark was more than non-confrontational, and figured he'd just keep on doing what he was doing, taking it all as it comes. That was until one week in particular where it seemed as though he was well and truly hung out to dry. Not only was he chucked under the bus, but the bus seemed to reverse back and have another few goes at him, al-in the space of a few days.
He had picked up a few more clients who were living more than a little comfortably and the boss had decided he couldn't take it anymore, after all, this was his outfit and he'd of been damned if he were going to be out shone by some feller who'd been at this caper only a fraction of the time he had.
It'd started with Mark returning into the office one day after taking his lunch break outside. He'd caught the tail end of a conversation that his boss had been having over the phone with some lady. She'd got her knickers in a twist over a few details that she had been pretty explicit on she'd reckoned. Mark had heard him saying things like he'd 'have words with the boy', and 'I did try to pass the message onto him." He hadn't even talked with the woman, let alone drafted her house.
Sheepishly testing the water, Mark had asked the boss what that had all been about and his boss had very quickly blown it off and changed the subject.
The next day, Mark had had a phone call requesting his own fair hand on a series of houses in a new sub-development in Northwood, Christchurch that was sure to keep him ticking over for a couple of years as it spread out. He was visited later that day by the boss's missus who'd accused him of drinking all their milk, and finishing off the cake that'd been left in the fridge. This was odd because Mark always swung his own billie so to speak. He'd cleared it up with her and left it quiet with the boss, deciding that keeping the peace was better than starting something over a bit of cake.
Two days later a black truck had pulled up outside. A well-dressed bloke with shined shoes had crunched his way over the gravel and into the office demanding to see a 'Mr Mark Weller'. The boss had been out for the day surveying a site and at that, Mark had introduced himself only to be repaid with a chewing out over an entire wing of a building being in the wrong place, and the whole thing being clad in the wrong material. By that time, he'd been starting to feel a little on the backfoot. The feeling firmly established itself after telling the man that he'd check in with the boss to see what'd happened only to have 'that's what your boss said when I spoke to him! You are the one meant to have done this!' fired back. By the time his boss had returned, Mark had wrestled against his own peaceful nature, and had left with a resolve to straighten the matter out the next day.
It's always been a curious thing to see what'll finally break the back of a man who's starting to get riled up, and this was no different. Paper's what'd done it the end - paper and wind.
For as long as Mark had been working there, he'd enjoyed taking shots into a paper bin with screwed up bits of this and that. Once full, the bin would be taken out a dumped into a wee burn-pile the boss had set up next to his folk's granny-flat. He'd always been careful not to put anything too loose in there in case it blew away but the boss had put a whole heap of the stuff in the bin just before he went out to empty it.
After he'd tipped it into the burn pile, a poorly-timed, and quite perfectly aimed gust of wind had taken it all over the place, covering his parent's house and yard in bits of loose paper. Later that day, the boss's mum had come snorting around outside and kicking up dust like a bull gone mad. The boss had rushed outside and Mark had heard him expressing sentiments once again that 'he'll have to have a word with him', and 'I've tried telling him that before.' Mark had had about enough of things being pinned on him by that stage. He worked another week there to finish off his projects before telling the boss that he'd be packing it in. He also took the long-term contract with him. At least he'd have something to keep him going until he could work out whether to carry on with this particular line of work or not. He'd also got the chance to call the boss over for a change.
He wasn't too sure what he'd do after the contract ran dry, but wherever he ended up he was certain of one thing - he wasn't going to be chucked under the bus.