The first story from 'Everyday Life'.
I used to work with this guy Bob and this is going to sound weird but Bob’s own father stole his lawnmower. His father came round, borrowed Bob’s lawnmower, and then refused to acknowledge that he ever took it. It was funny at first. Over the phone, in our office, I heard Bob say things like, ‘Oh and I can grab that lawnmower back when I’m round with the girls tonight,’ and he’d be smiling at us, because we all knew the story.
Over the course of a few months, it got less funny. Apparently Bob brought it up at a family dinner and wouldn’t drop it. His father punched his fist into the table and denied everything. Some of the family grew concerned. Maybe this was the onset of Alzheimer’s or a stroke? (Bob had a small stroke himself that year.) Yet under increasing pressure from the children, Bob’s mother told a very different story. She said Bob’s father still had the lawnmower and he talked about it often. He told her he had no plans to give it back. He said he needed it. Of course, this rubbed Bob up the wrong way. He decided that instead of replacing the mower out of his own pocket, he’d somehow trick his father into giving him the exact amount he needed to buy a new one. In hindsight, this was a terrible idea.
We all worked for the power company back then. It could be boring as hell but they looked after us. Our jobs were secure. Most of us had been there forever. We were all waiting to retire and needed office colour like Bob, and his lawnmower story. Bob coped with his own boredom by fooling around with Sandra from accounts. And, the story goes, Sandra knew someone from the Hillford office and this friend of her’s let Bob onto the Hillford computer. Soon enough, Bob’s father received his quarterly utilities bill and was outraged at the price hike: the exact equivalent of a new lawnmower. ‘Those bastards you work for are going to drive me back to the poorhouse,’ he shouted down the speakerphone.
The trouble came when Bob went to collect the money. All he had to do was steal the money from the power company and correct the files, but he made a hash of it. He got the money but he also started fooling around with Sandra’s Hillford friend in the process. He didn’t get away with that. When Sandra found out she made all sorts of threats. It was a tense moment for Bob. Nothing actually came of it but everything seemed to go bad for him anyway. He lost weight and his colour faded. Tommy from cartography caught him drinking in the carpark. No, Bob was never quite the same after that lawnmower business. And from that time on, every time someone brought it up, Bob would just sigh and say something like, ‘Yeah, I got the mower alright but it cost me. It cost me bad.’
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