Mr. Potatohead From Laos

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
We've all had bosses we hate, and co-workers who are just plain weird...well, here are those two things combined in a whacky look at what it's like to work a bad job.

Submitted: June 23, 2008

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Submitted: June 23, 2008

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Ron look’s different. Not different in a bad sort of way; not different in an ugly sort of way like Quasimodo or the Elephant Man, but only different.
The shape of Ron’s eyes are not quite round, nor are they almond shaped, but they’re just different. Ron’s skin isn’t black or white, or any of the normal skin tones in-between, but instead it’s more of a yellowish almost a golden color—and it’s something that causes everyone to take notice.
Take notice is what they do on Ron’s first day at work. Five employees and a Supervisor stand in a semi-circle around Ron when he walks onto the sales floor of New Century Department Store’s Menswear Division.
The Supervisor’s name is Antonio. Antonio is originally from Italy and he speaks in a low voice with a constant lisp that makes him sound like he’s sucking air through a straw while he talks. Antonio’s palms sweat and he keeps his hair short in a buzz cut like a ten year old boy.
Francine, a black lady with a big girth and a bigger voice to match, whose hair and fingernails change colors and styles daily, calls Antonio Mr. Potatohead. She insists that the paleness of his skin, the oval curvature of his face and the thinness of his lips cause Antonio’s head to resemble a potato with a slit cut at the bottom of it whenever he speaks. Francine is right.
“Everyone,” Antonio begins as he sucks air through a straw, “this is Ron. He’s new.” Antonio’s accent places emphasis on the N in new—new sounds like Gnu, when he pronounces it.
“And THAT is Mr. Potatohead,” Francine mumbles beneath her breath as she nudges Brian Grabowski (who’s in charge of selling men’s suits and sport coats) in the ribcage with one of her fleshy elbows.
“Yeah,” Brian chuckles back to her in a whisper, “and he smells too.”
“No he doesn’t,” Francine curtly whispers back.
Francine, who has nicknamed their supervisor Mr. Potatohead on account of his awkward facial features, and who has successfully shirked any work responsibility by insisting to Antonio that the stock room is haunted by ghosts in the shapes of little girls dressed in Amish fashion, still asserts that when her co-worker, Brian Grabowski, in any way references the fact that Antonio smells like week old body odor—than he’s gone too far. Still, it should be noted here, that during all sales staff meetings like this, no one stands farther away from Antonio than Francine.
“C’mon Franny, you gotta admit, he kinda smells,” Brian whispers as he nods in Francine’s direction.
“Ni—a PLEASE,” Francine raises her voice a little, “that man looks like a potato, but he doesn’t smell.”
“I’m white Franny.”
“It don’t matter.”
“I think the guy looks like a potato,” Brian continues, “AND that he smells.”
Francine hits Brian in the ribcage again with her elbow, only this time, she hits him harder.
Brian’s knees buckle for a second. “Ouch! Damn it Franny,” he says half-laughing from between gritted teeth.
“Grabowski!” And then there’s a long sucking sound like air through a straw.
“Yeah?” Brain says as he uses a sales rack of ninety dollar Ralph Lauren sweaters to regain his balance and straighten up.
Antonio takes two steps and walks across the semi-circle of employees. He stands directly in front of Brian. A cloud of scented air strongly hinting of week old, unwashed, body odor fills Brian’s nostrils.
“You,” an enormous sucking sound like a vacuum, “you have something you want to say?”
“No Antonio. I don’t have anything I want to say.”
“Oh,” sucking sound, “S-s-s-so now Grabowski you are a mute?” Antonio chuckles and smiles and then looks around the employees standing in the semi-circle. No one else is smiling, or even moving for that matter.
“Mr. Potatohead,” Francine coughs into the back of her hand.
“What?” Antonio stops looking around the semi-circle and turns to look back at Brian.
Brian, who had been looking out across the sales racks at the legs on a blonde who was just then shopping through boxes of Jimmy Choo high heels, reluctantly takes his attention away from the shapely calves and thighs of the customer and looks back at his buzz cut boss.
“What?” Brian asks.
“You,” sound like being trapped in a wind tunnel, “you tell me what, Grabowski.”
“I don’t know what,” Brian says as he shrugs his shoulders. He turns his head back around and looks back out across the sales floor. He’s lost sight of the blonde—damn it!
Antonio keeps on pressing. “What is it?” He demands to know.
“What is what?” Brain asks.
Antonio stands with a stunned look on his face. His slit of a mouth is frozen in place on his face, and then he begins to talk again.
“What is this Mr. Potatohead you call me, Grabowski?” Antonio says.
“What?” Now Brian is standing with a stunned look on HIS face.
“What is this Mr. Potatohead you call me?”
“Antonio, I didn’t call you Mr. Potatohead.”
“You did!” Antonio insists as he sucks in gallons of air through his slit of a mouth.
“No, I didn’t CALL you Mr. Potatohead!”
“Why you call me Mr. Potatohead?” Antonio, the Supervisor asks and this time he stamps his foot up and down on the carpet of the sales floor for emphasis.
“I didn’t call you Mr. Potatohead,” Brian’s voice is getting pre-pubescently high-pitched now. “Antonio, I didn’t call you Mr. Potatohead.”
“You did call me Mr. Potatohead! I heard!”
“I didn’t call you Mr. Potatohead!”
“Alright, you two white boys shut up,” Francine says as she moves her girth, her new hair extensions and her purple and mauve fingernails between Brain and his supervisor. Customers were starting to notice what was going on and beginning to follow the Mr. Potatohead/not Mr. Potatohead argument.
“Brian,” Franny says as she points a long nailed index finger at his nose, “you just shut up cause you’re an idiot, and stop looking at women’s legs like that cause one day y’all gonna give your crazy ass some whiplash. And as for you boss,” Franny turns her long nailed index finger on Antonio, “you shut up cause I called you Mr. Potatohead because your face DOES look like a potato with a slit in it.”
After saying this Franny steps out from between the two white boys and retakes her position on the outside of the semi-circle. That settles the Mr. Potatohead argument. Antonio is more afraid of Francine than he is of ghosts.
‘Well, you two have to meet Ron,” Antonio says. “He’s new.”
Ron steps forward. Brian takes his eyes off of the women buying clothes and looks at Ron. He tries his best not to stare at him. Mentally, Brian notes how different Ron looks from any other human being he’s ever seen, but he doesn’t say anything. Brian holds out his hand to shake and says, “Hey Ron. How ya doing?”
Ron smiles and then rests his golden palm in Brian’s. “I am doing very well, thank you,” he says.
“Damn, you are one weird looking dude,” Franny bellows.
“Thank you very much,” Ron says.
Francine and Brian look at one another and roll their eyes. Brian mouths the word, “weirdo,” to Franny. Franny shakes her hair extensions up and down in agreement.
“That ain’t nothing to be thankful about,” Franny shouts back at Ron. “What are you Laotian?”
Ron looks at Franny with a smile still on his face. Probably, he’s never heard of Laos or Laotians.
“Well, ni—a please, I asked you a question. Are you Laotian or aren’t you?” Franny demands. Her and Brian stand looking at Ron. It seems like they’re waiting for an answer.
“No,” Ron shakes his head slowly, “I don’t think I am.”
“You don’t think you are,” Francine mutters shaking her head.
“Okay,” Antonio’s voice, sucking sound and all interrupts Francine and Brian’s meeting within the meeting. “Okay Francine and Grabowski, you two will be working is men’s formal wear.”
“You know I ain’t going up into that stock room Antonio!” Francine shouts as she points a long nailed index finger back in her boss’s face.
Antonio raises his hands to mollify Franny’s anger, “I know, I know,” he mutters.
Antonio walks away. Franny and Brian walk away, to their right, over towards men’s formal wear. The other employees walk away and off towards their respective departments. Ron remains standing, alone, in the middle of where the semi-circle used to be.
Brain and Franny are walking towards the men’s formal wear. Brian laughs, a sneer and says, “Laos? Where the hell you come up with that?”
Francine stops, turns to face Brian, “What? That guy’s weird and Laos is a weird country.”
“Yeah,” Brian half laughs and half sneers, “but come on, Laos?”
“Yeah, Laos,” Francine says, “it’s a country in Asia.”
“I know it’s a country in Asia, but I mean Ni—a Plea—,”
Just then, Franny slams her elbow into Brian’s gut. The air rushes out of Brian’s lungs and he crumples to the floor. Brian is on the carpet of the sales floor down on his hands and knees.
“Damn it Franny,” Brian gasps as he struggles to regain his breath, “what the hell you do that for?”
“You’re white, remember?” Francine flips her hair extensions and begins to walk away.
Franny keeps on walking, but Brian doesn’t follow. After a few seconds she turns around and says, “C’mon Brian. What the hell are you doing? Those Calvin Klein sport coats aren’t going to get themselves out of the basement, and you know how I feel about that stockroom with all those ghosts and shit.”
Francine turns completely around and sees Brian still on the floor. But now Brian is lying on the carpet of the floor, with his head tilted to the side and looking underneath the sales racks. “Come on, Brian, what the hell are you doing? I’m not playing,” she says.
“Hey thanks Franny,” Brain calls back to her, “I think I spotted the legs of that blonde again from here on the floor.”
“Get up Brian!” Franny demands.
Reluctantly, Brian puts his palms down on the carpet and pushes himself from the floor. The work day has begun.


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