“Whaaa!?” he responded, like I just gave him an impossible answer.
“I. Don’t. Care.” I repeated.
It was almost like an anniversary now. Right before a mission trip, I have to have words with everybody’s favorite Box Troll.
Ever since the conflict we had a year ago, I kept a wide birth from this guy to avoid another needless confrontation. No talking, no pranks, I even go to a different breakroom than him. This day, however, I was unlucky enough to be assigned as a box maker and he was working as a stock guy, a worker who ensures that the outbound packers and box makers have enough supplies for their jobs by wheeling dozens of pallets of unfolded boxes and other office supplies into designated areas.
Sometimes a box or two would have too much glue and cannot go through the box machine. When that happens, it jams the machine and someone has to manually extract the box. Sometimes we get an entire pallet of flat boxes that can’t go through the machine. In this case, I would pull the entire pallet off to the side to be recycled and open a new pallet and start again fresh. This was the way I was trained to handle these problems and have been doing so for years.
But the Box-troll did not approve of this method. As he was doing his rounds, he saw what I was doing with the problem boxes and decided to instruct me the “proper” method of dealing with the problem. He grabbed the boxes I had thrown out and ordered me to tape them by hand later and to go through the hundreds that were still on the pallet I put aside and check each box for its ability to go into the machine. Having been a stock guy myself, I know how time consuming his job can be. I rarely had time for idle chit-chat. When I make deliveries for box-making, I just drop off the box-maker’s cargo and leave them to whatever method they wish. Why should I care, as long as the job gets done?
The first time we clashed, we resolved our differences by chucking insults at each other and were one step away from killing each other. This time I did my best to keep a lid on my explosive anger in favor of a civil confrontation.
After he ordered me to waste time checking each box for quality, I argued.
Me: “That would take too much time.”
Troll: “You can’t throw out an entire pallet just because of 1 or 2 bad boxes.”
Me: “What about 4 or 6 in a row?”
Troll: Gestures to the pallet itself, “Do you know how many boxes you would be throwing away?”
Me: “I don’t care.”
For a moment I looked at me like my pants suddenly caught fire.
When I am set to work on something, I always aim to do my best. Even if I do hate said job. I pride myself on diligence, efficiency, and most of all, flexibility. The Troll’s method, however, was borderline obsession. Between my work-rate, bills, and other responsibilities at home, I had no time to ponder the fate of some lone boxes that can’t go into a folding machine easily.
“Why are you even working here?” The troll continued. “If you don’t like working in box-making, say something to the managers.”
Me: “I did. And they still sent me over here.”
Troll: Left to complain to the managers. Undoubtedly to report that I don’t deserve to be in box-making like he usually does. When he came back, he continued to rant.
Troll: “I can’t understand you. If you are so unhappy here, why don’t you get another job elsewhere?”
Me: “If it were that easy, I would have left ages ago.”
Troll: “Anyone can get a job!”
Me: “What about a dream job?”
Troll: Starts cackling like a villain from a cheap cartoon.
Me: Looking bemused. “What’s wrong with having a dream job?”
Troll: “All you need are the benefits.” Still amused by my optimism, he finally walked away.
He was a jerk then and he was still a jerk now. This man was truly my enemy. In fact, my opposite in a way. He was lame, hopeless, and completely without ambition. In other words, a tool. A minion would raise an eyebrow at this guy.
If this job makes him happy, fine. But the only opinion that the Box Troll respected was his own and he fights to share his dismal existence with the world. He can rot in his cardboard coffin for all I care. I’m going to embrace the warm sun and experience life when I can, while I can.
Nobody has the right to laugh at another’s dreams. Hope and dreams are what fuel our reasons to live and urges us on to continue forward on our journeys. Without those dreams, we would become the pessimist who complain about everything and accomplish nothing with their lives.