Charlie The Building Checker

The governor is making a surprise visit tomorrow.   We just found out at 2 PM.

In anticipation of this surprise, the students are called down to the auditorium, and told to be nice, cheery, surprised of course and, above all else, quiet, lest they spend the remainder of their formative years in a re-education camp.

As for the faculty, we get anything we want.   Want a stapler?   First thing tomorrow, downtown will send seventeen.   With the understanding that, once the governor leaves, we won’t get a roll of toilet paper for the remainder of the school year.

But we do get a dozen workers on my floor alone.   We’re getting new baseboards, curtains, windows washed, floors buffed.   The Potemkin Village School.   I ask the vice-principal if my wall paper could have a light floral design, and, for my trouble, just get a look.

I run into Ned.   Ned used to be our janitor, our janitor since 1968 until downtown fired him as a cost-cutting measure.   The savings came when they re-hired him at half pay and no benefits.   He actually doesn’t work for the district per se anymore, but is now a kind of roving janitor for a company I’ll just call FuckusCo.   I like Ned.

So we chat.   Ned tells me about the guy who stole a whole playground.   Charlie The Building Checker.

So FuckusCo hires all the fired folks.   It was a plan.   Then they hire a guy to check on the newly rehired fired folks.   Charlie The Building Checker, who, of course, is a brother-in-law of some uber-boss.   At first, this gets little more than a so-what-else-is-new.

But Ned’s got a dirty thinker in his brain.   It’s why I like him.   Ned can’t get a key for any of the jobs he’s got to go to.   Here he is, a formerly long time employee of the district, and he can’t get a key.   But Charlie The Building Checker gets a key.   In fact, he gets all the keys.   So this goes on for a year and change, and finally Ned is like, “What the fuck?   We show-up for a job, wait an hour for the schmuck who’s always – Always! – at the Lewis School and always has that same lame ass Sorry wrong address wrong time wrong school excuse”   Ned is mad because he figures this guy is a fuck-off because he couldn’t be doing anything at the Lewis School because the Lewis School is closed.

Besides, Ned thinks, who is this guy?   Does anyone know him?   Then something dawns on Ned.   A little detail.   Ned was a long time employee of the school district, and, as such, had to have a police background check.   We all do.   But FuckusCo isn’t the district.   It’s an independent contractor.   Since Ned had a background check, he just kind of thought that his district background just rolled over into his new old job.

FuckusCo doesn’t run background checks.   But Ned did.

Or, to be precise, Ned’s kid did, the kid who’s the computer geek.   A simple search of recent newspaper archives, and it turns out that Charlie The Building Checker is a five time felon.   A little grand theft auto, a few second story gigs.   Recently released, just a little over a year ago.   And what do we do?   We give him the keys to the school district.

But Charlie The Building Checker is not a fuck-off.   Indeed, it turns out he was quite a hard worker.   And smart.

All those times at the Lewis School?   All those times the guy was late?

The guy would show-up at some school.   He’d have a legitimate work order, be in a legitimate FuckusCo uniform, the I. D., the whole thing.   And he says, “Mr. Jennings, I’ve a work order to remove your television.”   And he would.   Not only that, he’d get Mr. Jennings to sign the work order.   But he wouldn’t just steal it.   He’d park the television in someone else’s room, say Mr. Publius.   He’d install it and everything.   Then he’d wait to see if anyone complained.   If they did, then it was, “Oh, stupid me.   Messed up the work order.”   And he’d fix it, return it to the original room.   Except nobody really complained.   Why would Mr. Jennings complain?   He just signed off on the work order!   So he’d just go back to where the TV was parked, “Sorry, Mr. Publius, you were right.   You didn’t order this, did you?   Wrong room.   Sorry.   Sorry.   Stupid me.   Would you mind signing this work order?”   And, puff, a TV disappears.

Of course, the TV didn’t just disappear.   When Ned and the others opened the Lewis School, the entire basement and first floor were littered with televisions and smart boards and computers and such.   He’d just started to stash stuff on the second floor.   The piece de resistance, however, was the playground.   Charlie The Building Checker stole a whole playground.   Jungle gym.   Seesaw.   Sandbox.   And hid it in plain sight.   He hired some day laborers, undocumented Mexicans, had them take a playground from a closed school and install right it in front of a closed school, the Lewis School.

I’m not so much astonished by the thievery as I am impressed by the chutzpah.

Upshot of the whole thing is that Charlie The Ex-Building Checker gets his keys taken away.   FuckusCo asked the district for some place to store odds and ends, say the Lewis School.   For the foreseeable future, Charlie’s job is to get the stolen stuff back where it belongs.   To this end, he gets one key per day.   And some days he gets Ned – Lucky Ned! – to supervise his thieving ass.   But Ned says that Charlie doesn’t always remember where he heisted the stuff from.   So sometimes Charlie The Ex-Building Checker just goes into a school before school starts, and installs stuff.

Which reminds me that Mr. North called.   North decided to take advantage of the district’s temporary largess.   He requested a smart board.   He no sooner hung-up, when someone from FuckusCo called back, and asked him if he’d like two smart boards first thing in the morning.


Filed under: Prose, Publius