Practiced incompetence leads to mystery shocker
LAPEER, Mich. (AP) — Despite a continuing lack of productivity today (3/11/04), County Press staff reporter Jeremiah Britt kept his job. Although pleased by the persistence of his paychecks, Britt admits that the absence of a pink slip has made him a little nervous.
"Well, you know, I like to, well, eat, as it were. So anything that keeps me in the gravy, figuratively and literally, is a good thing. But I don't really do anything. I mean I try, and sometimes I'm actually really busy, but mostly I just kind of try to look busy. I just know that the boss is going to notice soon and either tear me a new one, or kick me out the door," Britt said.
Mark Haney, editor in chief at The County Press and Britt's superior, seems generally pleased with Britt's work. While Haney does give Britt occasional guidance about clarifying jargon for readers and separating the facts from the fluff, there isn't much feedback.
"The second week I was here we got a call from a lady saying I misquoted a number she gave me. Last week I messed up a date. Each time (Haney) came over and told me that 'we need to keep our facts straight.' He wasn't happy, but he didn't yell either," Britt said.
According to Britt, each time he makes a mistake or only turns in three stories he is sure that he'll "get canned." So far he has remained employed and even un-chastised.
In an attempt to "actually, you know, work at work," Britt has added graphics editing to his repertoire, doing various photo illustrations for the paper and offering layout style suggestions.
These efforts have met with compliments by coworkers, Haney, Assistant Editor Krystal Kaltz Johns, and even Publisher Steve Funk. Britt has responded with increased nervousness and a reoccurrence of chronic insomnia.
It is unclear as to whether Britt's epic avoidance of Welfare is some kind of grace period given to new hires or the result of office apathy. Some contributing factors could be the recent loss of three full time employees and constant threats from others to put in their two-week notices. These two circumstances could be causing the management to be leery of aggravating or firing an already angry and understaffed work force.
It could be that Britt has finally used up his free parking, however, as last week another staff reporter, Jennifer Decker, joined The County Press. Bereft of his "new guy" status, Britt fears that he'll no longer be able to wile away countless hours reading movie reviews on the news wire or updating his various LiveJournal and e-mail accounts.
"Good job on your column. It was funny," Johns said recently.
Britt responded by stuttering, going back to his desk and swearing under his breath.
"Any day now. I'm gonna get fired. I really am. Tomorrow's probably my last day," Britt said.
Britt then wrote up a fake press release to look busy.