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Squid #392
(published July 24, 2008)
Ask the Giant Squid: A Pressing Question As Sickness Strikes
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Dear Giant Squid,

I work at a riding school instructing. Last term I was teaching Saturdays and Sundays all day. I have NEVER missed a weekend since working there. Students and parents love me (just to give you an idea). I get a call last week saying I was only working Sundays now till mid day. That was a quarter of my pay so I called up and they reassured me they had other work for me to do the rest of the day to make up a full days work. They then call today, and tell me I'm not teaching anymore because I'm not doing the instructors course that I was doing up until the end of term, only because I can't get there during the week and last term I completed one of two parts of it. They said I'd be teaching theory, which would be fine except they are short staffed Sundays and it would mean I'd be catching all the ponies for the day, feeding and tacking them up (which is usually done by a 'tack up' person) plus help with some school that's coming.

So I don't know what to do: suck it up or pull the pin?


Dear Unsigned,

I do hope with all my hearts that you forgive my brevity this day, but a virus has entered our offices and made a home for itself here. And no, this is not the usual viruses of Indolence or Laziness or Ignorance, as I have jested in the past, but rather a rhinovirus possessed of most sagacious cunning.

Which is to say, dear reader, we all of us have caught the Coldness—and, considering the recent extreme heat and humidity that have recently befallen our Detroit Days and Michigan Nights, the irony of our sudden and paralyzing Coldness is not lost upon me (although it was lost upon my lab assistant, Rob, and could not be found, regardless of how many text messages explaining the point I had him sent. There are none so blind as those who do not check their inbox, Dear Readers).

I required help parsing your query—my brain becomes so addled and lethargic when fighting off infections—and so panned my cameras and sensory apparatus about the office to seek help. On any given Wednesday I would simply call loudly for my helpservant Jarwaun, a schoolboy of great renown, and he would beat the feets and do my biddings both necessary and obscure. But today he had phoned in and said he was sick.

The garage was empty as was the maintenance bay: Devo had driven himself to the hospital, as is his wont when a case of The Sniffles is upon him.

The accountancy office was staffed as usual, by Mr. Leeks, who tends to suffer a perpetual and low-grade Coldness. Even in his fittest moment, wads of facial tissue collect in drifts about him, like slowly falling bleached-paper snow. They might begin the morning politely accumulating in his trouser's and jacket's pockets, with perhaps a few solitary outliers at the corners of his desk, but by mid-day they will have marshaled their forces and begun brave encroachments upon his log books and numerical calculating devices. Before the business day is ended, there is scarcely ever a surface in his room unoccupied by crumpled Kleenex brand facial tissue paper product. Leeks had long ago accepted his fate, and this day was indiscernible from any other, save for that he wore a scarf.

In the cubicle farm where Rob and any number of temporary workers may sit there was but a note affixed with tape to a monitor: "feel like shit. gone home." Alas, Rob is excellent well at deciphering the obscurities of human vernacular. I wish he had been here to assist with your missive, Unsigned Reader.

At the edge of the cubicle wasteland was Molly's large oaken desk. She was in, but asleep. Her face pressed sideways into the keyboard, composing making an infinite missive of naught but the capitol Gs. A thin stream of saliva reached towards the C and V, but progressed no further than the narrow gutter that separates them from the middle-class of the "home row". I wondered about electrocution, but took no action.

As for myself, I floated in the meditative posture most conducive to healing: the Bladed Fruit of the Sun, II. Imagine a whirling helicopter blade made of spinning snowflakes performing Tai Chi, and you will be halfway there. Now, if those snowflakes possessed both self-aware inner-stillness and a vibrating radioactive thread . . . closer. Somewhat closer to that thing I do when my optically perfect eyes grow weepy and my headsac febrile. It is difficult to perform correctly, and impossible to describe accurately using such flat and angular letters as yours. Perhaps in Sanskrit, writ in glitter glue upon the back of a softshell turtle . . . ? Who can know?

In any event, in light of the limited alternatives available to me, I took your question to Mr. Leeks, my interlocutor of last resort. "LEEKS!" I did bark through the intercommunication system. "I HAVE NEED OF YOU. UPON YOUR SCREEN YOU SHALL SEE SHORTLY AN EMAIL MESSAGE. IN THIS MESSAGE IS A QUERY FROM ONE SEEKING MY ADVICE. THE QUERY CONCERNS PAY AND EMPLOYMENT—AREAS OF YOUR EXPERTISE. PLEASE MAKE CAREFUL STUDY OF THIS MAN'S PREDICAMENT AND RESPOND WITHIN ONE HOUR."

Upon the closed-circuit screen Mr. Leeks visible jerked, his mouth flying open as of one calling out in fear from an unpleasant dream. His left hand jerked upon his desk, sending a tea cup, followed by a trail of tissues, flying off screen. He shook as he turned to his computer screen to consider my request, and I re-entered my meditative pose so that my mind might drift upon the healing waves. I thought of Mersene Primes—but then, who among us does not when we seek some solitary moment of succor whilst in the mucousy hold of an infection most inconvenient and unseasonal?

Precisely one hour later I received this response from Mr. Leeks in my email folder:

Dear sir,

I believe this man's employer is attempting to force him out. They most likely can not actually terminate his employment without committing to a severance package, or at the very least an unpleasant personal confrontation. Although I am not a lawyer, I would know more if I could view his employment contract. Is this available? It would also help to know the state in which he is employed, as local labor laws have some bearing (to the best of my understanding, which is limited in this regard). Depending on whether this man savors confrontation, or just wants to get the whole thing over with, I'd recommend respectively either 1) adjusting his schedule to be available whenever they need him (and therefore taking away their objections, and thus prolonging his employment) or 2) quitting outright. Should he take the second avenue, I leave it to his discretion (or perhaps your's?) to determine if it is best to go quietly, or to rant and rave and possibly damage property (although I would not advise doing so, and also wish it to be noted that nothing in this message should be thought to constitute legal, financial, or accounting advice).

With Respect,
M. Ignatius Leeks

My advice, dear petitioner, is to assume a healing pose and weather this storm. Do not let your anger lead you into a trap. Consider all options with calm rationality, and then strike from the darkness.

And, of course, when you do leave, do so with the utmost ranting and ravery, leave a path of destruction and rancid horsemeat in your wake, and salt the earth behind you so that no thing might ever again there thrive.

In Sickness,
I Remain
The Giant Squid

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