You take a seat in the conference room for the mandatory driver’s meeting. After twelve years at FedEx, you know these things are always to discuss some pain-in-the-ass policy. They’re certainly not going to give you all a surprise raise. You settle into the metal folding chair and are about to ask the driver seated next to you what useless shit they’ve come up with this time when Ladarius, the shift manager, enters the room.
Ladarius is carrying a large cardboard box, emblazoned with the company logo,n in his arms. He sets it down on the front table and calls for attention.
“Some of you know why we’re here today,” he begins. “For those of you who don’t, I’ll try and make this as fast as possible. Most of you know that, back in July, Curtis had another incident.”
Curtis is a fellow delivery driver, although he didn’t start out that way. He was working the sorting line six years ago when a box filled with ceramic garden gnomes fell off an elevated conveyor square onto his head. Curtis suffered a severe concussion and minor brain damage. FedEx rushed to cover their asses and offered a huge settlement. Curtis, though, hadn’t been adjudicated mentally defective and insisted, against the advice of his legal team and his family, upon FedEx keeping the money and giving him a lifetime contract to drive a delivery truck.
Although he shows up on time and all his packages get delivered (eventually), from time to time Curtis is known to do what is referred to in psychiatric circles as “some genuinely whacked-out shit.” One time, he showed up to work in nothing but his company-issued shorts and a bow tie around his neck saying something about being the new CEO of “Chip and Dale’s Rescue Delivery Service.” Another, he cursed out a new truck loader for “not cutting the crusts off his boxes the way he likes.” It’s mostly harmless stuff, but always weird.
Ladarius clears his throat and continues. “If you haven’t heard, Curtis forgot what drinking was for about two days and passed out in his truck while driving down I-10.”
Most of the congregation turns their heads toward Curtis, who looks up from his phone by pure coincidence and notices the room’s attention on him. He raises his 64oz Thirst Incarcerator soda cup in salutation and returns to his game of Candy Crush.
“Glad to see you’re back on your game Curtis,” Ladarius says. “Watch your eye around that straw.”
Curtis absently gives Ladarius a thumbs up without diverting his attention from the bright colors of his phone’s screen.
“Anyway, management has seen fit to enact a new policy due to this incident,” Ladarius explains.
A chorus of groans and sighs erupts in the conference room.
The sudden noise startles Curtis, who throws his soda into the air. The cup lands upside down in the middle of his lap. He makes no attempt to clean up. In fact, he appears not to notice at all.
No one laughs or says anything to Curtis. Everyone knows how he gets when you mention wet cotton.
“All right, all right,” Ladarius says. He reaches into the box and pulls out a blue sport-style water bottle with the FedEx logo printed in black along its length. “Every driver will carry a company-issued water bottle. Curtis, we’ve had management agree to sew a hydration backpack onto the back of all your uniforms okay, buddy?”
Another thumbs up.
“Great, good meeting everybody.” Ladarius says, wrapping up. “Grab your bottles on the way out.”