The Men's Shed from Marino-Fairview attended four creative workshops at Fighting Words over September and October. They wrote personal memoir stories that looked back at their various careers. They also collaborated on a fictional story called 'Just the Job'. The story is set in a typical workplace environment in Dublin in the late 1970s.
Just the Job
It was the late 1970s in a small Builders Providers in North Dublin. It was 9am on a Monday morning, early December. The economy was heading towards a recession. The bad weather reflected the general mood of the country. The staff were dragging themselves in to work after a heavy weekend, including the staff Christmas party on Friday.
The owner, Tom, calls Mark into the office and says, ‘Congratulations. I’m giving you a promotion. Without extra pay on a trial basis.’
Mark thinks to himself, ‘Jesus, I thought it was just the drink talking at the Christmas do.’
‘Thanks, Tom. You know I can do anything in this place and I won’t let you down.’
Mark stands up, head held high and beaming with pride.
Tom tells him what his new responsibilities are.
Mark swaggers out to the shop floor and Tom calls him back to say, ‘Before you go, I need you to do something for me.’
Paddy arrives in on time, whistling, as usual, and puts on his shop coat. He’s happy because he’s put a deposit down on the toys for his children for Christmas.
After the morning tea break, a silent Mark had mustered up the courage to approach his good friend, Paddy. It’s a meeting he’s not looking forward to, but he’s relieved it’s not himself being let go, and he wants to get this out of the way as quickly as possible.
He says, ‘Alright, Paddy?’
Paddy replies, ‘Howya, Mark?’
‘How’s the kids?’
Paddy says, ‘Grand. Looking forward to Christmas, I have most things sorted out. How are things with you?’
Mark hesitates and says, ‘I’ve a bit of news, I just got a promotion to manager.’
‘That’s great news, congratulations,’ Paddy says.
Mark steels himself and says, ‘I’ve a bit of bad news for you, Paddy. You’ll be reporting to me…’ and then thinks to himself, ‘for a few minutes anyway.’
Paddy wonders, ‘Why wasn’t it advertised?’
Mark tries to soften the blow and says, ‘I’m not getting any extra money for it.’
Paddy says, ‘Then why did you take it on?’
Mark replies, ‘It’s a step up the ladder.’
Paddy thinks to himself, ‘Snakes and ladders.’
‘I’ve just been in with Tom Sherry and he’s asked me to let two out of the four of us go,’ Mark snarls. ‘There’s Mary and Larry, yourself and meself, and unfortunately it’s company policy that the last one in is the first one out.’
‘I’m listening to you,’ Paddy says.
Mark explains, ‘Mary was last in, and you were second last in. So that’s the two of you gone.’
‘That’s really bad news…for you,’ Paddy says.
Mark steps back and folds his arms in disbelief and says, “What do you mean?”
Paddy explains, ‘As you and Tom know, I am the shop steward. My position is covered by legislation.’
Paddy thinks to himself, “Just as well I have those placards in the car.”
‘I know Paddy but this has nothing to do with the union,’ Mark shouts. ‘It’s last in, first out, they’re the rules.’
Paddy says, ‘It’s everything to do with the union. And I have had 41 jobs. One for 15 minutes and one for a day and a half, and one for 15 years. I’ve closed down more jobs than I’ve had hot dinners.’
It starts to get overheated and tempers are getting a bit flared.
Mark gets angry and his voice becomes high pitched. ‘How many hot dinners have you had Paddy? You won’t win this battle!’
Paddy cooly replies, ‘I’ve closed down bigger kips than this. Would you recognise our placards? Everyone else does.’
Wide eyed, the vein in Mark’s neck is throbbing. ‘There is no need for that Paddy. You’ve been happy here for the past two weeks since you’d started working with Mary. You can stick your placards where the sun don’t shine.’
Paddy says, ‘There mightn’t be a job for any of us when I’m finished.’
Mark storms into the office and nearly pulls the door off its hinges. Full of rage, he shouts at Tom and asks him to have a word with Paddy.
Tom stands up at his desk, throws his pen on the table and says, ‘I’ve left you in charge to deal with this situation. I’m too busy.’
Mark says, ‘I want a lot more money if you want me to deal with this crap that you’ve created.’
Tom sits back down and says, ‘We will negotiate more money if things work out.’
Mark turns on his heels and says, ‘Okay leave it with me.’
Mark goes outside and says to Paddy, ‘No ifs, ands, or buts you’re out. Do your best with your placards.’
Paddy says, ‘You’re backing the wrong horse, Mark. Tom has a lovely house in Dalkey. I’ve hundreds of people thankful for my help over the years and they will gladly put a picket on his lovely house for 24 hours a day.’
Tom is out the back, he hears all this and is thinking that it’s a good job he doesn’t know about the yacht. Just then Paddy says, ‘I know about your yacht and I will put on wellington boots and stick a picket on that too.’
Tom shouts out from the office, ‘I hope you can walk on water.’
Mark roars back, ‘They don’t call him Bono’s uncle for nothing,’ much to the amazement of the other staff and the long queue of customers waiting to be served.