The Innis Report: The Not So New Guy
I made deliveries. At the time, that was my job description—to make deliveries. Whatever kind of delivery one wanted or needed. Whatever kinds of things required delivering, I would deliver, with dedication, determination and even a little decadence when it was truly called for.
There was a hotel I delivered to on the outer fringes. The place saw little traffic for it existed too far out of town to be of any touristic consequence.
I pulled into the wrap-around driveway, parked, and went in, like always. To my genuine surprise, there was a new guy manning the front desk.
"Good morning," I said, manifesting a monotone muse. "So you're the new guy."
"Yes," he said flatly, slightly militaristically. "I am the new guy."
Patronizing bastard, I thought and chuckled lightly to myself.
"Did you just start today?" I inquired.
"Yes," he said flatly, slightly militaristically...again. "I just started today."
Okay, I thought, this guy is a fucking knob-job.
"You're as new as new can be, am I right?"
"I am new to this position, but old to my old position."
Now we were really communicating. And god knows, if there's anything the world needs more of, it's communication...
I zoned out after a rather short period of time, but during that brief expenditure I was able to absorb almost everything apparent about the new guy—or so I thought. He was a fascinating specimen really—skinny fellow, not so tall, narrow head, not so serious half-assed smile smeared across his fine-featured face and a handlebar mustache that extended damn near to his earlobes that were currently being stretched beyond comfortable comprehension by three-inch wooden ear disks making him look like some kind of fucking creepy Caucasian circus sideshow freak from the farthest reaches of tribal Africa, really... And to top it all off, wild, wave-like swooping bangs that would have put an early 80's Johnny Depp to complete and catastrophic shame. He was also covered in tattoos from elbow to wrist displaying (on the left arm) everything from the electron configurations of group 16 chemical elements to horrific, nasty images of chaos and death from Pablo Picasso's Guernica painting, and on the right arm: the entire Malayalam, Burmese, and Benghali alphabets, and yet, he could not read, speak or even swear in any of the three to any acceptable degree...so what was the point?
For the next three months I made deliveries and small talk. One day the small talk took a turn. The Not So New Guy had a proclamation to make:
"Today is the last day of my three-month probationary period. Tomorrow I will no longer be a new employee." He sounded very pretentious and smiled sort of sideways at me.
"But you are a new employee...compared to the others who work here. Cynthia has worked here eight years. Walter and Lyle have worked five years and four years, respectively. You, my friend have only worked here three months. Therefore, you are the new guy on the block. You will always be the new guy—"
"I'm not so new anymore!" he cut in. "My probationary period is over, so I am no longer new!"
"But you are," I said firmly. "Comparatively of course."
"It was expressed to me by my manager that I have shown great promise in this position."
"I'm very happy for you, but the fact remains, you are and will always be, the new guy."
"I AM NOT SO NEW ANYMORE!!" he screamed. "I was new when I started. Now I am not so new!" Regarding this point; he was most vehement.
"What does it mean to you to be new or not so new?" I inquired.
He was looking at me funny as though I had asked the question in Russian. "Wait here," I said.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"We're going to need some serious assistance if we're going to get all philosophical about this—if we're really going to beat this sudden ugly problem into ass-whipped submission..." I turned and ran out to the car where I retrieved a baggy and a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle's 23-year-old bourbon. Upon my return, I set the bottle on the counter that separated us and told him to get us a couple of glasses. He returned a few minutes later with two tumblers and a bucket of ice. I put fire to my pipe, drew long, and then passed it over the counter.
"We have roughly twenty minutes to discourse over this, so don't piss around with boring, superfluous, Narcissistic-style semantics or ego-inspired drivel. We must demand facts of this subject! And proof! Ah yes my friend—PROOF!! FACTS AND PROOF!! And then we will howl like the blood-thirsty red-breasted heathens that we are! Yes indeed! That is what we need! That is how we will be!"
Eyeballing each other nervously across the counter like two acid-whacked, bi-polar "take-no-prisoners" type of sovereignty-minded Territorial court appointed spoiled-rotten tennis stars, neither of us moved for mere minutes. Then The Not So New Guy grabbed the bottle of Pappy's, put it to his lips, and tipped it upside down. He managed to swill at least an inch before I pulled it from his foul, ugly, spade-shaped face. "You greedy shit-bastard! Is this the new you? Huh?! Not So New now are you?! Bullshit!" I mocked him.
He fell back into his chair and began whining about having "put in his time" and having "battled in the trenches—on the front lines of the hotel industry, and survived!" Survived! Goddamn! He really was making me proud, up to a point.
But I still demanded FACTS and PROOF of his perceived Not So Newness.
"What?" He looked at me weird.
"Tell me something that is new." I looked back hard into his pellet black, button-blank little eyes, and then I drank what I felt to be my rightful share of Pappy's considering the barely insurmountable stress the Not So New Guy had put me through already.
"Okay! Okay," he mumbled, looking nervous, confused and suspiciously mistrustful. "There's this story by this new writer that I read recently that I really liked and—"
"I'm not interested in people!" I screamed at him. "I'm not interested in people or places, past or present, the chance to perceive, or sensible stories recently read!—No! Simply ideas, goddamnit! Ideas! Give me ideas I can count on, ideas that are debatable, but durable. Have you any idea what I'm asking?" I asked and promptly pulled out my pipe.
Some seventeen seconds later, repacked and ready to roll, I decided it was time to up the ante.
"Is new to you to mean different? To be the opposite of old? What novel dogma were you told by those you trusted to fool you? Do you believe this? Where does your fear come from? Not feeling accepted? Not feeling loved? Three months is Not So New compared to three thousand months which is Not So New compared to three thousand years if you see this time as time you have experienced well. Have you experienced your time well and especially, Wisely? Or well enough to know you're Not So New anymore...not so Wise, and scarcely significant."
He was crying—sobbing really, the light from the Brights above shimmering on the snot slipping down from his swollen red, pimple-pocked flared nostrils. His body was bucking and heaving in bad spasms as he attempted to spit words at me: "You...yyy...yyyou bastard! Go to hell! I hate you! Mind your own fucking business!" I had obviously touched a nerve. He was clearly coming apart, decayed and crumbling away like some not so new tunnel under heavy pressure from above. Except in his case, the pressure from above was all in his fucking head and having to face his life as a half-baked EGO-whore, and a shitty worthless one at that.
"Get a grip you fool-ass chickenshit! The Sun's coming up and we are fast running out of time. My delivery has been made. I don't have to be here. I could be anywhere enjoying just about anything other than that which you have selfishly been subjecting me to. But I choose to see this sad situation through to the end my friend. We are in this together, you and I, like two weather-beaten winos looking at their last two fingers of Old Fitzgerald and a two-thousand mile locked boxcar trip to look forward to, unfortunately no socks, and only a mold-encrusted game of Scrabble with half the letters missing to keep them company, but with the promise of more Old Fitz and warm woolen socks both in abundance at the end of the most liberating journey of their otherwise useless, lazy lives!"
My screed finished, a man of about sixty walked in. It was Lyle.
"Good morning Lyle," said the Not So New Guy.
Lyle nodded efficiently, said hello and then went behind the counter to sort through his paperwork. He handed a yellow piece of paper to the Not So New Guy. "Congratulations," Lyle said with little emotion and even less labor. You're still the new guy around here, but at least this makes you one of us." It was a letter notifying him of the expiration of his probationary period; exalting his steadfast reliability and red bowtie that he sometimes wore whenever he was in a particularly feisty mood, and of a dollar and a half per hour raise.
The Not So New Guy watched me as I gathered my things and made for the door—my deliveries done for the day. "Hey uhh...thanks for everything," he called from behind, stumbling graciously over his grudge-dusted words before smiling at me sideways once more.
Huxley Innis keeps to himself somewhere up in the hills writing reports on whatever controversial, political, or even marginally hypothetical subjects he happens to read, see, hear, feel or find. But whenever faced with straightforward Socratic questions from strangers about his literary ramblings and antagonistic aspirations, he will only mumble odd incoherencies and seemingly meaningless phrases, sometimes even in street-slang Mandarin...