Maintenance Man: A (Slight) Dramatization

26 02 2008

At work, I deal with a varied and compelling array of different personalities. Some of them are typical-assholes, sycophants, your industry standard morons-but one or two are of a different caliber. Those few who are likeable are very likeable, and we get on quite well. However, among that small number of odd-caliber personalities is a guy we’ll call Jarvis. Jarvis is a very strange man.

He is also, from what I’ve seen, astoundingly, unquestionably, brain-crushingly stupid.

A snippet of my conversation with the man, from this morning:

Jarvis: “So, what seems to be the problem, here? Forget to iron your britches?”

             Me: “I’m wearing blue jeans, Jarvis.”

             Jarvis: “Yep.”

              Me: …

              Jarvis: “Tell ya what: you just tell me what you did, and I’ll tell you what went wrong.”

So, I begin to describe to him the problem I’m having with my machine. It’s old, but very expensive, so I’m careful about just diving in there to “fix” whatever might be wrong with it.

            Jarvis: “Hold on. You did what to it?”

            Me: “I… I turned it on.”

            Jarvis, chin in hand: “Hmm. Okay, I’m with you. Go on.”

            Me: “So, anyway, I-”

            Jarvis: “You said you did turn it on?”

            Me: ”  What? I–yes. I did turn it on. Anyway…”

            Jarvis: “So what’s this cord here on the ground, all unplugged and laying loose for me to trip over?”

At his feet is a garden hose, bright green, with “caution” triangles set along its length. It has been there, as far as I know, for years. It has never–this I know for a fact–been plugged in.

              Me: “That doesn’t go to my machine. It’s-”

              Jarvis: “But-”

              Me: “It’s a-”

              Jarvis: “Ya didn’t even check to see-”

              Me: “It’s a water hose.”

There is a long, uncomfortable moment in which I could hear three or four million of my braincells committing hari kari in the back of my head. Jarvis, on the other hand, seemed nearly on the verge of what must have been an almost orgasmic moment of epiphany.

            Me, patiently: “So…”

             Jarvis, glancing from the hose, to the ceiling, and back to my face: “Mmm… Ah… Yyyyyep!”

             Me, hopefully: “What? Did you figure it out?”

             Jarvis: “Do what?”

              Me: “The… the problem, Jarvis! Did you figure out what’s wrong?”

               Jarvis, proudly: “Aw, heh heh. Naw, I don’t know about this here machine.”

I could have killed him then, I think. The only thing that stopped me was the absent, dead-cat glaze on his red, merry face.

                Jarvis: “Naw, not this one. Heh heh! Maybe if you ran one of the otheruns, I could help.”

                Me: “Then… WHY DID YOU EVEN COME DOWN HERE?

                Jarvis: “I was already here. I been here.”

                Me: “No, Jarvis. NO. I called the maintenance department, and then twenty minutes later you came down. You weren’t just ‘here’.”

This prolonged existential exchange seemed to stall him out completely. I thought, at any minute, he would either suffer from a massive stroke, or start prophesying about the end of the world. Surely, surely, even a person so achingly idiotic as Jarvis could understand the problem of not being right there when they were somewhere else.

            Jarvis, with utter sincerity: “But I’m here now, ain’t I?”

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