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In a retail store that sold clothes and sporting goods, Hector stood behind the cash register. He spotted a small boy in front of him who appeared to be of grade-school age. The boy shyly approached the register, and asked Hector curiously, “Umm, sir, umm....umm....do you sell bats here?” The boy held up a bat that was splintered and broken in two. Hector assumed that this kid must be one heck of a baseball player. “I broke this yesterday at, err, baseball practice.”

Hector chuckled. “You got quite the batting arm there. What’s your name, kid?” The boy smiled, and swayed back his hair, “My name is Kenny, and I do have quite the batting arm, indeed.” Kenny’s expression darkened slightly.

“Well, Kenny, we have all types of bats. I’ll show you if you like.” Hector showed Kenny to the bat section. Kenny browsed through the merchandise until he spotted a silver bat. He picked up the object, gazed at it in awe, and then gave it a few test swings, batting the air a few times as hard as he could. Hector could feel the wind from the swings.

“Woah, kid! Pardon my language, but you are one hell of a bat swinger! You could probably go pro!”

Kenny smiled, looked at Hector, and nodded. “Thank you, sir. I would like to purchase this.”

Hector escorted the kid to the cash register and finalized the transaction. Kenny paid for the bat and observed it again with wonder.

“Sir, do you have a marker that I can use?”

“Sure, kid." Hector handed Kenny a marker from behind the counter. Kenny took it and began to write on his bat. When he'd finished, it had the words "B. Slayer" on it. He handed the marker back to Hector. Kenny looked at Hector one last time, then told him thanks.

Kenny left, holding his new silver bat. A few seconds later, Hector was approached by his supervisor, who was named Marpha. She yelled angrily at him, “I saw that transaction! You sold a weapon to a minor!”

Hector sighed, and said, “Marpha, it was a baseball bat! The kid was going to use it for baseball practice, not to assault anyone!”

“Well, whatever! I’ll let it slide this time. Be more mindful of your transactions.”

Not too many people enjoyed working with Marpha because she was so worrisome all the time. Coworkers always complained about her, and it wasn't purely because she seemed to be addicted to stress, but also because she was very incompetent. Many of the staff were baffled over how she was able to become a department supervisor in the first place. Hector was the only person in the store who could tolerate her, and he remained open-minded, understanding that nobody was perfect. He saw the good in her whenever he recalled the times they had had important and casual conversations.

Several days after Hector had assisted Kenny, Marpha quickly approached him, a concerned look on her face. Hector sighed, wondering what he’d done wrong this time.

“I heard that you got fired from your last job.”

“Yes, I did get fired, Marpha. I even explained this issue to Rachel, who hired me.” Hector continued to work diligently. This wasn’t the first time that he’d been through this, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. “Based on the conditions and what happened, she decided to hire me regardless, and she placed me on a thirty-day trial. I exceeded her expectations, and she decided to keep me full time. I have been working here, and with you, for five years now. Five years! This conversation is completely asinine.”

“Well, you should have told me this before.” Marpha paced back and forth, still unconvinced. “How can I trust you as a worker? What else did you lie to me about?”

“I didn’t lie about anything, and I have been very dependable and reliable. You are blowing this way out of proportion.”

“I’m going to keep an eye on you just in case you act up.” She headed back to her office.

The next day, Hector was approached by Marpha, and he was already getting the same vibe off of her as he had yesterday.

“Hector, you were supposed to empty all of the crates.”

This confused him, as he recalled emptying every single one of them.

“I did empty all of the crates,” he said.

She immediately grabbed one and opened it.

“Look at this! You see all of this dust inside? What if the dust got carried into the air and caused Josh to choke? You know that he has asthma! What if the dust builds up, and goes into the ventilation?” Unbeknownst to Marpha, she had attracted a small crowd behind her as a few customers observed the whole incident like they were watching a dramatic play.

“What if the door to the stockroom were open and a customer saw this? For that matter, what if quality assurance saw this?! Then we would all be without a job. What then? If that happens, what would I do? What if I lost my home, and what if I lost my whole life’s work?”

Hector stopped paying attention after the first two "what ifs." He continued diligently working since he'd learned how to selectively block her out a while ago. It took a lot of time and patience, but he'd eventually mastered it. The whole process was as simple as choosing "select all," and then pressing "delete." She stormed out, continuing to complain about the whole situation since it was clear that Hector could care less.

A few days later, Marpha had gone on her vacation, much to Hector's relief. However, he'd been called into the main office by a supervisor and was somewhat unnerved. Since she was gone, the day had been peaceful in the store up until now. He walked into the office to see the irritated looking supervisor who was handing him the phone. Hector was curious as to who would call him on a busy day like this, thirty minutes before the store closed.

“Hello?”

He heard a loud voice in his hear, saying, “I hear that you called out sick two days ago right after my shift!”

What the hell? She was supposed to be on vacation! “Yeah, I had a cold. I didn’t call out sick, though, I just came in an hour late because I was at the doctor’s.”

“Why couldn’t you do it on your day off? What if Craig had needed your help?”

“I have never been sick before until now. I didn’t know what was happening to me until it happened.”

“Now I see why you got fired from your last job! Also, why didn’t you tell me that you had to come in late? I need to be fully aware of what is going on, Hector! I am the boss, and any slip-ups could mean a major disaster.” Hector hung up the phone, as Marpha continued on, oblivious.

Days later, in the parking lot of the store,

Marpha’s vacation is finished as she walks through the parking lot ready to start her shift. The woman panics as she sees rocks on the ground.

“Oh, no! Someone could trip over these and hurt themselves, and then sue the company!”

Marpha quickly picked them up and tossed them into the grass. Afterward, the supervisor walked up to the door and noticed that the sign was missing a letter.

“False advertising! Better hurry up and put an ‘O’ up there!”

She swiftly rushed inside, complaining to the ones working at the front desk that the sign was messed up, and instructed them to fix it. Marpha went to her department. The first thing she saw was her most loyal worker assembling a display. She rushed to him, seeing a hammer in his hand.

“Stop, Hector! You could hurt yourself, and then you could get worker’s compensation.”

He rolled his eyes at her and went to find something else to do. Here she goes again! God, it’s too early for this.

Marpha saw something else that caught her attention, and she rushed to a display near the elevator exit.

“What if someone stumbles on that?”

Marpha quickly sets it away in a fit. Hector stopped what he was doing, and approached Marpha. His annoyance was replaced with significant concern. Hector wondered why he hadn't thought to say what he was about to say when he'd first met her.

“Marpha, you need help. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way, but—”

She rudely cut him off as she tended to another issue.

“What if those kids break the display! I need to fix that fountain before someone passes out from dehydration! Do we have enough money to do that? What if the company goes bankrupt?! Then I will have to find another job! But the economy...it’s messed up! What if I can’t find a job? Then I will have to sell my things! But what if I don’t make enough money? That would mean that I would have to move in with my parents! But what if they don’t want me there?”

A week later, Marpha sat in Jerome's counseling office as he wrote down notes while counseling her. He noted that she was very sane and fit to be around the public. He also felt that the one who recommended she get help was probably the one who needed counseling.

“Marpha, you seem like a brilliant woman that has it together. You don't have any mental disorders."

This caused her to smile, and thank him. She shook his hand, and he returned the favor, then resumed writing his notes.

“Marpha, a suggestion I have for you is to fire the guy who got you here. It’s obvious that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and should be the one seeking counseling.”

Marpha kept Jerome's advice in mind and fired Hector the next day.

...and you thought YOUR world was HARSH!!

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KlaashD

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