well…at least the van’s not on fire

Several years ago I got a strange call at work.

‘Bo, can you send a student up with the van to the Burger King on the corner of This street and That street?’

Back then we had a van we would use to make deliveries between the branch libraries on campus and the storage facility in the next town. The peeps at the storage facility also had a van that they would use to make deliveries to a campus in another city.

What’d happened, as I learned, was that their students, after making the delivery, stopped at Burger King for a bite to eat.1 As they were ordering, someone walked in and asked if that was their van out there. He then told them that it was on fire.

And it was. My student2 was dispatched to bring their students back. I’m not really clear whatever happened to the van.

From then on, my student and I would joke around that no matter how bad things were, at least the van wasn’t on fire.3

Today when I came in I had to fix the copy machine. No, I am not a copier-serviceman. No, nowhere on my job description does it say this is my job. No, I know nothing about fixing copiers. But the university, citing budget cuts, has pretty much floated copy-servicing onto us regular-joe employees.

Even though I have no idea what this thing is.

But hey. At least the van’s not on fire.

There’s a woman here4 who almost every single time I walk past her office is texting someone. She’s not even trying to hide it. The few times she’s not texting, she’s on the phone. For long periods of time. And today I saw her on Facebook chat.

There’s another guy here, an old-timer, who fairly regularly is asleep in his office. I shit you not. I walk past and he’s Rip-Van-Winkle-ing it up in there. One Friday he was out for almost an hour!

But hey. At least the van’s not on fire.

There’s another person who really just flatly refuses to do any task she doesn’t enjoy. Actually, retract that. She doesn’t flatly refuse, which is why she’s so evil. To your face she’ll be all nice and polite and everything, but then she just won’t do what she said she would do. She’ll even go so far as to – if she sees you around and knows you’re waiting on her to do something – she’ll say, ‘Oh, I still need to…’ But then she’ll still not do what she reminded you that you’d asked her to do and she said she’d do!

The cleaning crew can’t seem to refill the paper towels. Or the toilet paper. I very nearly had a Seinfeld moment last week, but thankfully I looked to my left for letting loose the bowels of morn and realized there wasn’t a square to spare.

But hey. At least the van’s not on fire.

Yes, I post and/or comment on Facebook during work hours. Yes, I text Ashley when I need to. And yes, I work on blog posts at work sometimes.

But posting to Facebook happens mostly on my phone whilst I’m walking from one place to another. Texting Ashley is just that: texting. We don’t have conversations that take all day. And working on blog posts happens during bits of downtime between tasks. It’s more of a break than anything.

The point is not that I’m the best worker out there nor that I’m tired of working my ass of while others skate by.

The point is that my work ethic is ever rapidly becoming a sense of slack. I can answer that question of how bad can it get.5 More and more though, I can’t answer the question of why should I care.


  1. I was never clear as to whether they were allowed to make a food run. I never let my students do it. But then again, their boss was later jailed for bilking the state out of northwards of $400,000, so I’m sure the rules were a little lax.
  2. An affable fellow named Andrew who told the best jokes.
  3. It’s really a sign of how bad shit can get when your metric is a flaming couple-ton pile of steel and plastic filled with combustible gasoline.
  4. Like, an adult. Not a college student.
  5. At least the van’s not on fire.
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