- Faith and Fear in Flushing - https://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Labor Day Picnic

“Whoa, there he is! Whadda you doin’ around here?”
“I had’ta take a walk, get outta the house. I love my wife and kids, honest to God I do, but I love ’em more with a little ‘social distance’ now and then, get my drift?”
“I hear that. It’s been a long year this week.”
“What about you? What brings you out here to the park?”
“Labor Day picnic. Don’t you remember? We would do this every year.”
“Labor Day — right. I can’t remember from one day to the next what day is what. So they’re still doin’ this? Remember, I haven’t been with the company in like three years.”
“Yup. The bosses thought they’d do us a big favor one last time.”
“Last time? What’s up?”
“You hadn’t heard? They’re sellin’ the company.”
“For real? We used’ta hear those rumors all the time, but I learned to drown ’em out.”

“Supposedly it’s all frank and earnest. I mean nothin’s official, but it’s what everybody’s sayin’. Real rich guy takin’ over. We’ll see.”
“No kiddin’. Remember, we were always sayin’ ‘they oughta sell, but they never will.’”
“I hear that. But it looks like it’s goin’ down, and soon.”
“So they’re havin’ one last Labor Day blowout for the employees, huh? Mighty big of them.”
“They got sentimental, I guess. I didn’t think they’d be doin’ anything this year, with everything crazy, but here they are, gettin’ ready for the tournament, or so they hope.”
“What tournament?”
“You been outta the loop, huh? There’s a whole thing. Top eight teams go. We may or not make it. So what should just be fun today is gettin’ kinda serious out there.”
“Yeah, I haven’t really paid attention in a few years. It’s hard to see from here who’s playin’.”
“I know. They won’t let us get too close. It’s weird that they’re havin’ this without anybody allowed to watch.”
“Everything’s weird these days. God, I guess I haven’t been by in ages. Hey, is that Zack? How’s he doin’?”

“He’s doin’ great, but take a closer look at his shirt. He ain’t with us no more.”
“No, I guess he’s not. What gives with that?”
“Zack wanted a raise. The bosses told him no dice, Zack went across the street.”
“He got his raise, huh?”
“And then some. I think he’s takin’ some pleasure today in stickin’ it to the old gang.”
“Well, good for him. I’d do it if I could.”
“Who wouldn’t? Loyalty is whatever gets ya to the first of the next month.”
“Who ya got instead of Zack?”

“Some kid who looked good for a while earlier, but today not so much. They replaced him as soon as they could with somebody I don’t really know. He’s listed as a journeyman in the company directory, but from what I can tell, he’s doin’ good for himself.”
“I’m tryin’ to make out his name from here. I think it’s written in marker.”
“Yeah, he wasn’t even supposed to be here today.”
“Erasmus? Is that it? I had an aunt or great aunt or something who went to high school there, in Brooklyn. Erasmus Hall.”
“Whatever his name is, he seems OK.”
“Jake still here, or did he want a raise, too.”
“Oh, Jake’s still here. Him they gave a raise. He was worth it. They probably wish they could have him out there every day.”
“The union wouldn’t go for that, I’ll bet.”
“Management couldn’t fuck up Jake. Give them a chance, they’ll try.”
“Yeesh. Hey, what about that guy I heard about, the Polish Bear?”

“Watch it. Nobody has a sense of humor about that stuff anymore.”
“What? What did I say? I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“It’s Polar Bear. Between you and me, nobody’s really talkin’ about him that much this year.”
“Where is he? Is he on the field?”
“Not today. I mean he’s playin’, but he doesn’t have what you or I would call a position.”
“They’re doin’ that now? Oh, for…”
“Uh-huh. All kinds’a weird shit this year. They said it’s because of the Corona. I don’t know.”
“What about that big klutz they brought in? You know, with the bat sometimes, but really raw. Good kid, but seemed lost.”
“Yeah, Dom, that’s it. He still here?”
“He’s still here. I didn’t have a lot of faith in him either, but he’s kind of figured out what he’s doin’. It’s good to see. The guys really like him.”
“Great. And Michael? He was gonna be good, but that manager we had was all weird about trustin’ him.”
“That was fuckin’ bizarre, wasn’t it? Yeah, Michael’s still here. They leave him alone and let him do his thing, and they’re better off for it.”
“And that skinny kid from out west, always pointin’ to the sky?”
“That’s it — Brandon.”

“He’s still here. Still pointin’ to the sky. Funny guy, sorta, but he makes himself useful.”
“Great. Hey, what about that other kid, the one everybody was gettin’ all excited about for a while. Anwar…Amstel…”
“That’s right, Amed. Everybody was all, ‘can’t wait for Amed, Amed’s gonna be the man.’ How’d that work out?”
“Funny you mention that. Amed’s probably gonna hafta go to HR pretty soon.”
“What, did he make a Polish Bear joke, too?”
“Nah, they just gotta find another job for him or transfer him or something.”
“What happened to his old job? Automation?”
“Take a look out there. See that kid runnin’ around, gettin’ to everything, takin’ charge, just fuckin’ knowin’ what he’s doin’ like he was born to do it?”
“Oh yeah. Nice. Who is that?”
“That’s Andrés. He’s pretty much got Amed’s job now.”
“I can see why. Jeez, he’s smooth. How old is he anyway?”
“Just turned 22. He’s gonna make everybody look bad by comparison — or make the whole department look good if they let him handle everything [1] like he’s doin’ today.”
“Holy crap, 22. That’s young. How old is Amed?”
“Amed’s 24.”
“That ain’t old either.”
“It ain’t. But ya know how this business is. It’s what’ve ya done for me lately, whaddaya gonna do for me tomorrow? André’s got today on lock and he’s got tomorrow right in front of him.”
“Not a bad place to be.”

“Not bad at all.”
“So they gonna win or what?”
“The rest of the way? Who knows? Today? Uh…nah, doesn’t look like it [2]. I don’t even know who we’ve got on the mound right now. I think he joined the company right around the time Erasmus Hall did. I can’t keep track of everybody the bosses hire and fire.”
“Still a lotta turnover here, huh?”
“You don’t know the half of it. This guy pitching, though, they may let him go before the inning is over.”
“Not good, huh?”
“Maybe, maybe not. Who can tell anymore?”
“Hey, when did he put a runner on second? Seriously, I didn’t even see that. Weren’t they just ahead? Didn’t that guy they were all yellin’ ‘SQUIRREL!’ at do something and everybody was goin’ nuts?”
“I don’t know. I never know. Everything changes so fast. Blame it on this fuckin’ year. It’s crazy.”
“I hear that.”