The two men sat across the picnic table from one another, discussing the work schedule for the day. The dark haired one wore glasses and was the direct supervisor for several temporary workers. The gray haired man was his boss. In front of the gray haired man sat open a thin silver laptop. Both men drank coffee.
The gray haired man pecked out notes on the keyboard while the dark haired man tapped his right foot and gesticulated with both hands, struggling to get across whatever point he was trying to make at 7:19 a.m. Both men wore their contractor security badges around their necks on red lanyards, the tear-away kind, designed to disconnect from the wearer should they get caught in one of the 33 miles of conveyor belts that ran throughout the building like a clunky circulatory system.
The dark haired man swung one foot to the outside of the bench he sat upon, as if to make a move toward leaving. The gray haired man remained still. The dark haired man was due back to his work station. The gray haired man was the boss, and could stay in the cafeteria drinking coffee and surfing the web all morning if he wanted. It was that sort of arrangement that angered the dark haired man. After all, he had a college degree. And didn't he know more about the system than his boss? If that gray haired bastard were hit by a bus, the operation would continue making money like nothing had happened. But if he were hit by a bus, or felled by the heart attack that was surely sneaking up on him, who would know how to turn on the complex sorters that moved boxes here and there? The next person in charge was Don Millbank and Don was not prepared to take control, especially if what he carried around in his travel mug was still half Vodka.
The gray haired man must have been joking around because the dark haired man laughed and nodded at whatever drivel was coming out of his boss' stupid face. The dark haired man was sure he could beat up his boss. And if they were outside society, where business is handled in a much more physical way, he would prove it. And there that fool would be, lying on his back in the dust, wondering what the hell just happened. But they weren't outside society. They were all too far inside society, where the rules said a direct report has to sit across the picnic table from his boss and laugh at his jokes and not walk away until he is given permission to do so. That is, if he had any instinct for self-preservation and an interest in continuing to cash those paychecks that kept certain family members clothed and fed. So he kept laughing and kept tapping that right leg, in the hopes that one day he'd be on the other side of the table. It would be his laptop accepting those notes. It would be his cup of coffee waiting to be drunk. And people would listen and laugh at him. They'd have no choice. That's what you do in polite society.