It was my first day on the job as a clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the line stood about twenty people deep. I looked over to a Gorilla who sat at his desk. This Gorilla was at least fifty pounds overweight and wore glasses that constantly slipped down the bridge of his nose. There was one other worker in our branch, a chimp of about 30. I never figured out what the chimp’s job was as he usually sat in a corner next to a printer and never spoke.
According to legend, the Gorilla drove several dozen DMV employees to branch transfers, resignations, and early retirements. Like the fool that I was, I thought somehow I could deal with a Gorilla.
I called out, “I could use a little help at the front counter.” A brunette six places back in line cleared her throat.
The Gorilla said, “I could help you.”
I gave an eye test to a teenager and after completing this I looked over and the Gorilla sat at his desk. I said, “I thought you were going to come up.”
The Gorilla said, “I said I could help you, I didn’t say I would help you.” The Chimp let out a cackle.
The Gorilla muttered, “I guess I’ll have to do all the work. It’s just like home in bed.” The Chimp let out an ear-piercing shriek. The Gorilla smirked and when he stood up from his chair he stuck out his chest and made a side-to-side shuffle to the counter.
We waded through the customers and at one point, I couldn’t figure out how to process a request for a boat trailer title transfer. I asked the Gorilla for help and he sighed and turned to the Chimp and said, “I guess intelligence is no longer a requirement to be hired at the DMV.” The Chimp pointed at me and let out screams of laughter.
The day felt about a yearlong but I made it to five o’clock. The Gorilla and the Chimp disappeared about 4:45, and I was stuck closing the place with no idea how. I didn’t know how to count down the register with what forms etc. I thought, “Hell, I’ll just punch out and leave.”
The next day Hank, the supervisor of the DMV branches in the area, waited for me at the door and gave me a write up. It was for not closing the place properly. It turned out the Gorilla and the Chimp played a prank on me. They left to go on a long break at 4:45 thinking I would panic and wait for them. When they returned at 6:00, they were furious to see that I had left the building without even locking the doors.
“The Gorilla doesn’t do any work. He just sits and smirks and makes nasty comments,” I said.
Hank screamed, “He’s been here thirty years and you’ve been here a day.” The Gorilla sidestepped into the office and smiled genially at Hank. He said, “Hey, Hank, my main man! How about the Bears last weekend?”
Hank’s face lit up and he said, “Aw, that damn Cutler. My Grandma could have made that pass. Did he have his helmet on backwards again?”
The Gorilla laughed and looked toward the front counter. He said to Hank, “Doesn’t this new guy Ernie have enough sense to help customers at the front door?”
Hank and the Chimp chuckled.
The third day began, and I stood at the counter when I heard the Gorilla say to the Chimp, “Are Ernie’s arms broken?”
The Chimp looked up and down at my arms and shook his head no.
The Gorilla said, “They must be broken, otherwise, why didn’t he lock the cabinet after removing that new stack of plates?”
“Damn it!” I shouted, “Come on, stand up, you ape.” I put my fists up.
The Gorilla smirked and said to the Chimp, “Someone needs to enroll in anger management.” The Chimp let out a screeching laugh.
There were three computers at the front counter: I said a Hail Mary while I stepped to the first terminal and hit the following keys together: “Control-Alt-Down arrow keys.” The screen blacked out for two seconds and then the entire screen reappeared upside down. The only way to correct this command is to hit “Control-Alt-Up arrow keys” but the Gorilla and the Chimp wouldn’t know that. I went to the second and third terminals and did the same command. I then walked over to the time clock and punched out for my break. I turned and sat at my desk.
A trickle of customers flowed in while the Gorilla turned and glared at me.
“I’m on break.” I said.
The Gorilla said to the Chimp, “Seems like the new guy is always on break.” He sidestepped to the counter. He froze. First he tilted his head slowly to the right and then slowly to the left. He picked up his hands and gave the keyboard a few taps. He called for the Chimp who shimmied over and let out a confused “eep!”
The Gorilla pounded a fist against his chest and said, “Ernie, get over here and fix this.”
“Nope,” I said, “I’m going home. I quit.” I walked toward the door and something whizzed past my right ear and stuck against the doorframe. I looked close: it was the Gorilla’s feces. I heard a warbled series of screams. I turned and looked over my right shoulder: the contorted faces of the Gorilla and the Chimp glared at me. Their mouths moved as if they were chewing gum. Another pile of feces flew by nearly striking my nose. I shielded myself with my briefcase, ran out the front door, and never returned.
About the Author
In 1997 Adam Graupe’s first work, a regrettable essay speculating on the future of “the information superhighway,” appeared in Futurics. From writing about a bipolar 180-pound wood tick to a bear having an affair with a whore called the American Dream, his stories have covered the gamut of the strange to the bizarre.