Dermot had long hair and was fiercely proud of it. So proud, in fact, that he refused to cut it for any reason, even to get a job at the factory like his mother wanted him to.
“Those jobs pay good money,” she told him, “but they won’t hire nobody who has no long hair.”
Seizing his opportunity to be a smartass, Dermot replied, “Ah, so they’ll hire somebody who doesn’t have short hair?”
“No, that’s not what I said.”
“But it is what you didn’t say.”
Dermot enjoyed confusing his mother in this fashion and did so frequently. Eventually he did go down to the factory to apply for a job, but first he put his long hair up under a hat. He didn’t think that would actually fool anybody for long – all they had to do was ask him to remove it and the jig would be up – but if he could make a good first impression maybe they would overlook the length of his hair.
Dermot was ushered into the HR manager’s office. Someone with tact might have called her portly or even pleasantly plump, but someone without it would have just said she was a fat cow. She extended a hand for him to shake, possibly as a test to see if he had an aversion to touching morbidly obese people. He took the hand and shook it.
“I’m Miss Cross. Pleased to meet you, Mr. Rooney.”
“Same here, Miss Cross, although I’m curious why you asked to see me right away. I didn’t even finish filling out my application.”
“There was no need. We have an immediate opening available in our packaging department and you looked like a prime candidate, so I plucked you out of the applicant pool, so to speak.”
“Isn’t that somewhat unusual?”
“It is very unusual, Mr. Rooney, but if you stick around I’m sure you’ll find we here at the factory do very few things by the book.”
“Does that mean you're offering me the job?”
She was, and she never once asked him to remove his hat. This was turning out to be a lot easier than he had anticipated.
Next thing Dermot knew he was down on the factory floor, being shown around by the foreman. He was also on the heavy side, but Dermot held his tongue in check. It would not do to get fired on his first day. He didn’t even know what he was doing yet.
“Did they tell you up in HR what your new job will entail?” the foreman asked.
“Not really,” Dermot replied. “Miss Cross said it was in the packaging department, but I’m not even 100% certain what you make at this factory.”
“Of what percentage are you certain, then?”
Dermot looked around, but couldn’t identify what anybody was making or doing at their work stations. There seemed to be some kind of assembly line, but what they were assembling was a complete mystery to him.
The foreman let out a hearty laugh and clapped him on the shoulder.
“Well, follow me into the back and I’ll show you a thing or two.”
When Dermot got home that evening he was visibly shaking. After he left the factory he had stopped at the nearest bar to try to calm his nerves – and get his courage up. How else was he going to tell his mother that he had quit without completing a single day’s work? A couple stiff drinks later he still didn’t know.
“Dermot, is that you?” she called out from the kitchen.
“No, Mom. It’s the Tooth Fairy.”
“Oh, always such a cut-up. I kept your dinner warm. Do you want it now?”
Dermot thought of some of the things he had seen that day and felt his gorge rise.
“Uhh, no, Mom. Thanks.”
He plopped down into the easy chair, a shattered young man. His mother walked in and, seeing the state he was in, assumed what she considered the worst.
“Oh, no. What happened? Did you get fired?”
“No, not exactly.”
“Well, what, then?”
Dermot wearily removed his hat and let his hair fall down to his shoulders. He instantly knew what to say.
“They… didn’t like my hair.”
His mother shook her head as she returned to the kitchen.
“What did I tell you? But do you ever listen to me?”
Dermot waited until she was out of earshot before replying under his breath.
“Last time I take your job advice.”