Tom was angry as he pulled into the parking lot of the new work site. Irritated that he had been force to meet his crew on the day after Christmas. He wouldn’t have been needed to “supervise” if he just had workers he could trust. Tom would prefer to just remain home for the holidays. However, his irrigation was tempered somewhat by the thought of his newest acquisition; The new Ford truck he was driving. “A Big Mother” as he described expensive vehicle. The truck was a Christmas gift and reward to himself after completing a full year as the Operation Manager of his Father’s construction business, O’Tools’ Construction. Tom had been waiting to purchase the truck ever since the day he agreed to take over the family business after his father had suddenly died.
Tom hated the family construction business. The work was hard, messy and he didn’t like the crew of misfit workers that his father had assembled over the years. (Nor did they like him). But the big gift to himself made the hassle seem worthwhile. The large size of the vehicle was important to Tom. And he love sitting higher then all the other drivers on the road. The truck was the modern equivalent to the white Cadillac car his family had owned when Tom was just a boy.
Tom had ordered everyone back on the job after Christmas for a reason. O’Tools’ would receive a sizable bonus payment from the client if Tom could complete the job by early January. And he wanted that money. It was a deal which his father would have never agreed. Tom’s father had a deep respect for the men who worked for him and understood they needed time with their families. And besides, he enjoyed spending the holidays at home too. People were more important than profit to the old man. Tom had a very different philosophy; “Fuck’em”, he thought as he plowed the muscular vehicle into the parking lot.
The O’Tools’ work-crew was mostly made up of men from the local migrant community in northern Michigan. Most likely families that had moved to the US from Mexico and Central America. But honestly, Tom didn’t think much about where his workers were from. He didn’t much care. He knew they were different and he certainly didn’t see them as coworkers.
The men immediately gathered around the new truck when Tom arrived and admired the shiny new toy their employer had acquired. With a big smile on his face, Tom asked the men, “do you like my new truck”? The crew responded quickly with a cheerful “hell yea” in broken English. Many gave the thumbs-up as their approval for their employer’s good fortune. Tom couldn’t help but smile at the loyalty and decided this was a good opportunity to share with the crew his thoughts regarding their jobs. Maybe he could teach an important lesson about the American Dream.
The work crew gathered around the window of the truck as Tom began to speak. He told the men that it was hard work that paid for this new truck. Part of the American Dream of his forefathers. Then he got right to the point: “if you men work very hard each day, never call in sick or ask for paid time off, if you get to work on time and work overtime whenever I need to get a job done quickly, well…then next year my wife will get a truck just like this one as a Christmas gift from me”.
The men looked surprised and a little hurt by the purposeful cruelty of the words. Tom nearly laughed when he saw the look in their eyes. He could see their wounded spirits in the betrayal of his comments. It didn’t matter. He then yelled directly to them, “now get busy you lazy fucks” and drove off towards the office to begin the day.
Tom was not haunted by three ghosts that night in his bed. No visions of Christmas past, present and future made him regret his cruelty or change his ways towards his workers. There will be no reclamation, as Charles Dickens may suggest. Those are fairly tales. O’Tools’ Construction continued to prosper and Tom continued to treat his workers with contempt. Eventually, he sold the business for a sizable profit. There are no Christmas Carols to sing here.