Eddie, was a bluffer.
Smart, trim, in his early 30’s, very confident. And a Bluffer.
No other word for it. Bluffer. They appear on site and you can see them a mile off. Have no idea about what’s involved in doing a job, because, they don’t need to. Man management is their thing. They manage a job. Co-ordinate. Make things work, organize and grease the wheels so everything runs smooooooth.
Only things don’t go smooth. They gradually slow down and eventually, come to a standstill.
Because the problem with people like Eddie, is they talk a great job, very “Pro-active,” very,
“Can DO!” and “Nothing will stop us! Eh? Eh Lads?? Nothing will stop us!!”
He’s not the one having to overcome his last cock up mind. That’s down to the lads, to “Overcome!” it. with their “Positive!” attitude.
I once worked on a shopping mall where there was a famous sports branded shop. And every morning the manager gathered all the employees to come together in a group to “mentally prepare for the day”.
Then, it was form a circle, rush into the center, jump up, high 5 no one, (because nobody had a clear target) so it was a lot of empty flapping, instead of meaty, determined slapping noises. Then whoop and holler and shout,
“We CAN do! Not CAN”T do!!!”,
rush back into the center of the circle for another flap at each other, share a cheesy grin and set off to stack their shelves and colour coordinate laces.
And I just thought, “What a bunch of twats..”
Well, Eddie had that effect on me. Every time he came out with some positive spin on some bullshit job, I knew it was another cock up that “We” could overcome.
And I did. I just thought,
“What a Twat.”
So under Eddie’s “watchful” eye, the job progressed. Or more realistically, slowed down, mainly down to “Managing” things to the point where we were running out of materials and fixings because they hadn’t been ordered. And now, it was the Lads fault. Lads were laid off because they didn’t have materials with which to complete work. So incomplete work became their fault. Things were on a slow downward spiral. Added to this, the main contractor was beginning to squeeze and they weren’t shy in sacking their own staff, having cleared the decks and brought in a whole new department of foremen and agents.
Insisting on a subby firm sacking one of their foreman would have been minor by comparison.
You could see the stress building round Eddie. Little twitches. The smile getting a bit forced by the minute. The derring do attitude gradually melting away.
And the most foolhardy thing he did, was trying to lay the blame squarely at the door of the guys who can actually pull you out of the shit, the guys trying to do the work regardless of Eddie’s obstacles.
And suddenly, he’d found, he didn’t have many friends prepared to help him out of it.
There will be guys I’ve worked with over the years, who will read this and understand. You cant be a foreman and treat your men like arseholes. They don’t forget.
Because sooner or later, it just becomes a matter of time before your found out.
And Eddie’s time arrived.
Opposite the job was a café. One of those glitzy, shiny new cafe’s built specifically for the brand new apartment block that had been built above it. People would grab a coffee and a wrap on their way out to work in the morning. It was quiet any other time. The fact that our job was opposite must have been a life line because it was busy all day, especially at dinner. Men would sit inside and watch the world go by. The young girl who ran it was a stunner so that may have gone some way towards the business increase too.
This particular Friday was like Eddie’s D-day.
The pressure must have become unbearable to the point where something had to give. I’m always put in mind of Chief Inspector Dreyfus from the Pink Panther films starring Peter Sellars.
Where Dreyfus has finally reached snapping point and his ticks and lunatic giggles have become painfully obvious. And those around him are eyeing each other nervously, waiting to see who’s going to make a dash for it first before he blows.
I believe Eddie reached his very own nuclear meltdown point in this café, on this day.
It began with Eddie sat in the café having a brew with the labourers foreman, a young lad called Justin. Justin had been promoted purely for his willingness to do what ever Eddie said, and only added to the ludicrous state of affairs with his useless contributions.
So, Eddie is sat having his “Plan Of Action” talk with Justin, in the café at the peak of the busiest period in the day. Its crowded, full of people all having their lunch, with the noise swelling as people were talking louder to hear over their neighbours conversations, and suddenly, Eddie leaps to his feet and starts singing. (or more exactly shouting)
“IN THE NAMMMMMMMME OF LOVVVE!!! WHAAAAAT MORRRRRRRE IN THE NAMMMME OF LOVVVVVVE!!!!”
As you can imagine, instant center stage for Eddie. The silence was actually deafening, There’s an odd nervous,
while that persons mates said
“Jesus, shut the fuck up”
The only other noise is the scrape of chair legs as everybody in his immediate vicinity collectively slid their chairs away from Bono.
Eddie in the meantime just stood there grinning, doing that nodding head thing, where he’s still keeping time in his own head with the music, looking round at various people like he’s just invited the next person to leap up and bang out the next line..
Only as you can imagine, its one of those English situations where nobody wants to make eye contact even with the person next to them. Or (heaven forbid) attract attention to themselves, because nobody knows which way this barmy bastard is going to go.
So, Eddie starts from the beginning, in a slow, low voice, still looking round as if someone is going to join in.
“One man come in the name of love, One man come and goooooo”
Until the girl realizing she has a potential lunatic on her hands, bangs down on her counter and just shouts,
“Oi! Pack it in or get out!!”
To which Eddie seems to give himself a mental shake, apologizes and asks if he can use the toilet.
The girl is as nonplussed as everyone else sat there goes “Umm?” and points down the corridor to the back of the shop, and off Terry trots.
All I could think of was ” This is like Stars In Their eyes. He’ll be out in a minute with ” And tonight Mathew I’m going to be….”‘
And he didn’t disappoint. In spades.
Just as a bit of normality is being established, and people are talking again, (whatthefuckfwasthatallabout?) the door from the toilet Bangs open. Anyone still in the café turns towards the noise, and Eddie leaps out wearing nothing but an apron he’d found in the rear and starts moonwalking.
“Den! Den! Den! Denden!! Den! Den! Den! Denden!!!”
Sliding round the café like he had lard on his feet, bare arse hanging out of the back of the apron.
The girls first mistake was letting him use the toilet. Due to shock.
Her second was due to disgust and shock, when she realized, this naked man had her apron on!
“Get my apron off you dirty bastard!! Wha? Arrr!!! Nooooo!! Putitonputitonputitonnnnnnn!!!
Off came the apron and Eddie testicles is putting Michael Jackson to shame. He’s still going for it when the police finally arrive shortly after, managing a final crotch clutching, “Hee! Hee!” before the calming hand of the law guided him towards his clothes.
In all of this he’s been full of beans. Completely good natured. Even stopped moonwalking when they asked him to.
“You lads don’t you like Michael Jackson?”
This all changed when they decided to put handcuffs on him and he went off like a mad clog dancer.
It took 6 coppers to get him in the van. And then the transit was rocking on its axles as terry bounced backwards and forwards off either side of the van roaring.
It eventually drove off still rocking, taking Eddie to somewhere for a lie down.
And that was that. Within a day or two we had a new foreman and things got back to normal.
Until 2 weeks later.
In the mean time we’d been told Eddie had been put away for a rest, a bit RnR in a nice hospital to help him get better.
Until I did my normal thing, and get in work half an hour before everybody else and am sat outside on a lovely, sunny morning, waiting for security to open up and let me in.
Who comes walking down the street.
“Hi Mike!” Cheerful as ever.
All I’m aware of is it’s 6.40am and no one will find my body for at least 30 minutes. I know Eddie has the strength of ten men, but I only have the strength of nearly one.
“I’m back! Today! Ready to get this job back on its feet!!”
And then he just says,
“I’m not fuckin mad you know.”
(I beg to differ mate)
“I was in America. Had some business – with the mafia. You know how it is.”
“Had to take care of business during the night. Missus didn’t like it. Had to give her a slap. In the kisser. Got lippy!”
(Thank fuck she didn’t know any Michael Jackson songs)
“Phoned the police on me! Got me deported!! Mafia not happy!!”
“When we got back she paid me back by washing me clothes – In Biological powder!!”
“I had an allergic reaction.”
“To my clothes. Had to take them off. Had to. It was burning. BURNING!!
“She washed my clothes in biological powder! BIOLOGICAL POWDER!! SHE KNOWS I”M FUCKIN ALLERGIC TO BIOLOGICAL POWDER! THE BITCH!!”
“But I cant stand round talking all day. Work to do! I’ll see you in a bit!”
And off he marches to finds a way into the job.
I, on the other hand, am blowing in a paper bag heading in the opposite direction.
It shortly transpired, Eddie had left his hospital by his own accord – somehow. He was later picked up and helped back there.
I hope he eventually got better.
With a “Can do!” attitude I’m sure he managed it.