‘Why not Bob?’

I once worked at a steel company and there used to be this guy with a clipboard and pen who would continually be in the stock area checking labels, boxes, pallets, shipping packages. His name was Bob and everyone liked him, he was personable, was into sports, just an all round nice guy who got along with everyone staff, managers, bosses, everyone.

Bob had been with the company all of 15 years by then, and you have to understand, this was a large steel mill with a couple of thousand people working throughout the three mills on the same property.

Anyway, at a managers’ meeting a decision was made to have an employee look after a certain area of finished nails, screws, nuts and bolts. They were scratching their head about who had the brains to handle it. One of the managers said, “Why not Bob?”

Everyone knew right away who he was referring to and they all agreed he would probably be the best man for the job

The next question out of the manager’s mouth was “Okay, which one of you guys does he work for?” And no one said a word, but looked around the table at the other managers. “C’mon, he’s gotta work for someone here.” The manager said, and still there was no answer. Someone piped up, “Maybe he works for one of the office managers.”

Long story short Bob worked at the plant for over 15 years, collecting a paycheck each and every week. For the first five years he worked in a department that became obsolete and so people were moved around to other areas of the mill, except for Bob.

Bob got lost in the shuffle and found himself floating here and there without supervision or anyone ever paying attention to him. He waited to see if he would still get a paycheck and when that happened he thought at the time, “Well, I wonder how long I can get away with this before someone notices?” How about 10 years folks of weekly paychecks coming in without ever having had to work a day in his life.

When this came out it was the talk of the whole operations and even reached the president of the company who could only laugh at the whole situation. Nonetheless Bob was let go, but HR told them they had to offer him a good severance package because he was an employee after all for the full 15 years he was there, and it was not his fault he had nothing to do.

Management should have caught it in the beginning. I’m 75 now and this happened when I was still a young man, and had pretty much forgotten about it all until I read the question and I could not hold back a big silly grin about a wonderfully silly memory of Bob.

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Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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