Me and my boss have a great relationship. Lots of banter, elaborate practical jokes – it all makes the working environment a much better place – between us that is.
I’m the only one that has that kind of back-and-forth with him and with all my colleagues (much older Polish men who generally don’t speak English very well, save for one or two who act as translators) he’s always much more brusque and professional. The Polish workers are usually the first at the factory and the last ones to leave, so he often writes hand-written instructions for the work they have to complete; as such, they’re familiar with his handwriting, a fact which will render itself important later on.
One morning, whilst making myself and my colleague Piotr a cup of tea as he operated a machine, my boss came into the canteen. Piotr brought in his own tea – some kind of special infusion citrus aroma type thing. It smells nice, lots of pictures of flowers on the outside and to all intents and purposes looks like it could be pretty expensive stuff.
My boss asked me whose tea it was. I could have told him it was Piotr’s and that would have been the end of it, but for reasons inexplicable even to myself, I found myself telling him it was mine. Perhaps I knew that he would crack a few jokes over it and wanted some early morning entertainment. Maybe my brain was still only half-awake and it was a genuine mistake. Whatever the cause, I found myself claiming ownership and as expected, I received a barrage of well-meaning abuse. My response was to chuckle, put the tea back and return outside with a cup for myself and for Piotr.
What I will now tell you I have managed to piece together through talking to others, my own detective work, and some natural deduction.
At lunchtime, Piotr and two of his friends were crowded around the cupboard in the canteen, all talking animatedly. Piotr was shouting whilst his friends seemed to be trying to placate him. It seems that my boss, believing the tea to be mine, took it upon himself to tape the following label to the tin:
Now, my boss told me that this was a simple expression meaning he thought it was ridiculous tea to drink.
Due to a cruel twist of fate however, Piotr – the tea’s true owner, just happens to be homosexual and he apparently left his last job due to cruel and constant taunting over his sexual orientation. He believed the expression ‘shove it up your arse’ was targeted at his homosexuality. Piotr’s understandable response was to go on a rant in Polish, questioning which of his friends had told our boss and asking how dare he put that on his tea whilst declaring that simply because he was gay it didn’t mean he’d stick anything he could get his hands on up his bottom. The more he shouted, the angrier he got, until he stormed off from the building into his car to eat his lunch alone.
This was yet another cruel twist of fate, leading me to wonder whether all these coincidences weren’t really coincidences at all but some kind of cosmic joke beyond my understanding.
The Previous night, Piotr had bought himself a bottle of Krupnik, a Polish alcohol, on his way home from work and had forgotten to take it out of his car. As such it remained when he entered the vehicle to eat his lunch and in his anger and frustration he decided that one drink couldn’t hurt and before he knew it the man was inebriated. My boss, out of the factory at lunchtime to go and buy himself fish and chips was unaware of the catalogue of events that were unfolding.
Immediately after lunch Piotr was needed on the forklift. I wasn’t a witness to this part of the story, but it seems as soon as the vehicle lurched backwards some people guessed what had happened and ran to stop him driving it; alas, it was too late. All I heard was a tremendous crash that echoed around the factory and running out I found that the forklift had careered into and straight through the factory doors.
Piotr walked out of the factory in a rage and my boss, learning what had happened, is now looking for me, furious and in need of a scapegoat. I however had taken refuge, decided to hide in the toilets and remained there until the end of the day.
With little left to do I slid out of the back door unnoticed and drove home. Some may call this cowardly and to be honest those people would be correct. There is however another reason why I didn’t tell my boss and Piotr the truth.
When I left the toilets I could hear them having a screaming match along with one of Piotr’s friends in the canteen. With my boss so angry, he may well have fired me in front of the other workers and being a proud man, I think it would then have been very unlikely for him to take me back once he found out it was all a big misunderstanding.
Here’s a picture of the ruined door since it has been covered up by plasterboard. I’ve blacked out the details of the company I work for:
Okay, so thankfully things went swimmingly in the end. I went into work the following morning and my boss called me into his office. Instead of going into an angry tirade as I apologised to him and started to explain what had happened, he cut me off with an apology of his own. It was literally like, ‘I’m sorry’ ‘no I’M sorry!’ after which we both laughed and patted each other on the back. It turns out he came to an agreement with Piotr after finally figuring out what had happened. Piotr will stay on the understanding that if he takes one step out of line he’s out, and he in turn is not going to take my boss’s note any further. The forklift accident will simply go down as an accident.
To think; all this because I told my boss I owned some tea which wasn’t mine, meaning he left a note telling me to shove it up my arse and a gay Polish man took it as discrimination, got drunk and crashed a forklift through the factory doors – completely destroying them in the process.
If there’s a moral to this story it’s that herbal tea is far more costly than you think……