Have you ever met a person so full of braggadocio, arrogance, and testosterone, a person so self-absorbed, that fitting his ego in any room smaller than a gymnasium would present more difficulty than stuffing a hippo into an airplane restroom?
Well I have.
(Met a guy like that I mean–I’ve never tried to stuff a hippo into an airplane restroom. You probably couldn’t even get a hippo past TSA–those guys are pretty handsy.)
It happened while I was working as a quality control inspector at a steel coating plant. I was in my office dutifully doing paperwork when a man burst through the front door and announced in a booming voice, (I may be paraphrasing a bit here) “I am the greatest man alive.”
He began telling the plant manager about his jet black truck. His jet black truck was awesome. Everybody loved his jet black truck. Women especially loved his jet black truck–almost as much as they loved him.
In the span of ten minutes he said the phrase, jet black truck, 4,167 times (give or take.)
“You have to come see my jet black truck,” he told the plant manager. “I parked it behind the building. I don’t want any other vehicles driving past it and kicking up dust; I don’t like the way dust looks on my jet black truck.”
As Mr. Awesome and the plant manager went to view the jet black truck, I went out onto the shop floor to do some spot checking.
As I was talking to a coworker, I noticed Mr. Awesome and his big bulbous face, steaming toward us at about 1000 miles an hour (again, give or take.)
“You have to get the paint off my truck,” he said with a sense of urgency.
“But if I take the paint off your truck, it won’t be jet black anymore,” I said.
He cursed at me, called me an idiot, and told me to follow him.
As my coworker and I watched him storm away, my coworker turned to me and said, “he seems like a dick.”
I nodded in agreement and began to follow him. I was almost certain whatever the problem was, it would amuse me.
As I turned the corner and saw his truck I knew immediately what had happened.
I laughed–he cursed at me again.
It was warm breezy summer day and the bay doors were open. One of the painters was coating some safety rails near the open doors. As he was doing so, a fine mist of paint was wafting out the door and a breeze (as if it consciously knew what it was doing) was depositing the mist on Mr. Awesome’s jet black truck.
The side of his jet black truck was speckled with safety yellow coating.
A little scientific fact: the two colors that contrast the most to the human eye are black and yellow; it’s why warning signs on the highway are black and yellow. This was jet black and safety yellow–it was stunning.
He pointed at the truck and yelled, “what do you see?”
“A mostly jet black truck,” I answered.
“How am I going to get that yellow paint off,” he demanded.
I offered him the wad of sandpaper that I had in my back pocket.
He cursed at me–a lot.
“Without damaging the finish!”
“That ship has sailed,” I told him.
Mr. Awesome then threw a yelling, screaming, kicking, cursing, spitting, hissy fit. I’d never seen anybody above the age of eight throw a tantrum like that–I think he may have peed himself a little. It was basically a five minute torrent of pure obscenity with a few words like idiot, incompetent, and moron mixed in.
The painter, the plant manager and I just stood and watched–I really enjoyed it.
Mr. Awesome punctuated the tirade by looking at the painter and screaming, “what do you have to say for yourself?”
“You’re the idiot that parked behind the building,” he said calmly. “You’re supposed to park in the parking area. That’s why it’s there–to park in.” Then he walked away.
“I wouldn’t worry about it,” I assured him.
“Why not,” he asked.
“This is Pittsburgh,” I said, “everything here is black and gold.”
It didn’t make him feel better–but I felt great.