I. Adventures in the Workplace
eing a slow reader, throughout the course of attempting to read and review as much as possible in my lifetime, I find it necessary to not only be diverse with my choice of material, trying not to obsess on a single author or subject for too long, but also to be as discerning as possible. So when people suggest titles for me to try, I'm not always as accepting as many other people might be, pleading a long 'To Be Read' list. The recommendations that I have placed on my reading plate are generally very good and right on target with my taste.
However, at work recently, my boss, well actually my bosses' boss, of VP level, strolled by my meager cubicle with a hardcover book held in his outstretched hand.
"Here, read this" he said, not stopping to talk.
I glanced at the title. Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly. Did I mention I lean a bit to the left.
Years earlier when this particular gentleman interviewed me for my current position, he asked me about my hobbies.
"I love to read" I said
"Oh? me too," he breezed. "read a lot of history, mostly. How 'bout you?"
"Fiction, a lot of classics, but I'll read most anything" I answered, eager to please, and to get the job.
Twelve years later he hands me this book. I placed it on my bookshelf in my cubicle, thinking, I'll probably never read this since Bill O'Reilly irks the hell out of me, for one, and secondly, it's not like the subject matter hasn't been examined from every angle a thousand times, with all kinds of spin; why suffer through O'Reilly's knuckle ball (and I'd recently read Manhunt by James L. Swanson). But I wasn't likely to explain this to the VP.
The next day, my manager stopped by my office and happened to notice the O'Reilly book on the shelf.
"You like O'Reilly?" he asked
"Well...no, not really. Your boss let me borrow... or should I say gave it to me to read, but my reading list is already backed up"
"I'll read it first then, if your not going to"
"Good," I said. "Just return it to the source when your done"
"You're sure you don't want to read it, now? looks like a good one" he said with what I heard as a chiding knell.
A couple of days later, I saw the VP in the cafeteria line.
"Hey, I know you didn't finish the book that quick, I saw your manager has it now..."
"Uhh..." I began.
"That's alright, just tell him to return it to me when he's done," he said, waving it off.
"Of course, yeah, I'm a little backed up on my reading, there's just so much I want to get through..."
"Understood. I always have a big pile waiting for me to get to."
As my son says, Awk-ward!
So that was that, but the errant book exchange got me thinking about characters in a novel or even in a TV show; any written scene really, where the running gag is: a clueless boss regularly lends his underling a continuous series of books to read, each one more inappropriate (in some hilarious way) than the last, and of course the worker feels he must either read the book or just gather enough info about it to report back to his enthusiastic boss. Any book with this type of side plot, would surely make it to my "To Be Read" list.