“Hey Bob, am I fired?” They were the first words out of my mouth every morning.
“No your not fired, how could you be?” He would reply. “And thanks for getting my name right!”
Bob had been my best friend for ten years and all he ever wanted was to be the boss of something. So every day we would have the same conversation. I like to think it helped him feel like he was in charge of something in his life.
It was a small landscaping operation I ran while in college called The Lawn Rangers. I was the boss and I had one dim-witted employee. We would advertise for our business with fliers that said “Leaf it to us”, “us” because I wanted Bob to feel important in his job, when in actuality I was doing all of the work. I would ask my best friend/employee if I was fired everyday as a joke, but sometimes I think it really confused him. It worked pretty well for me because he wanted to provide the supplies, clothing and transportation because what else could he really offer?
One day when we got to work, Bob, with the usual dopey grin on his face, had a couple of synapses firing in his brain said “Hey Bob, am I fired?” I didn’t know where this was going and I had a lot of work to do. I replied, “Yes, and good job on pronouncing your name right”, thinking this would keep him occupied for the rest of the day and let me get some work done. After about two hours of Bob sitting there looking as if he was in a daze, he slowly started to pack up his things. It was fine if he was going to leave but I needed the rakes and stuff so I asked that he leave them. He started mumbling something and I noticed drool was coming out of his mouth. He then just fell to the ground and kind of rolled/flopped his way out of there.
It was a short and lucid drive home that day. I hoped that Bob realized how happy I was with the fact that he was fired. Decades later I saw a small sign along the road. On this sign, written in paint using a paint roller was a bunch of gibberish. I knew it had to be Bob. Never one to give up on his dreams, however trivial they may be, he had decided to start up his own “lawn care” business. I figured he could use as much help as he could get and I followed the sign to start work with my buddy ole pal again. When I got there, he was dead.