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Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Little Bunny Foo Foo and the Very Special Talent ...

On a cold frosty Friday afternoon in January, twenty-eight days after London Ontario’s Poshest Biggest Architectural Millwork Project !(LOPBAMP !) started, Mazzer and Little Bunny Foo Foo were in the Oxford Arms getting drunk as quickly as possible. It had become apparent that GAS were collectively possessed of very special talents.

GAS were a family company, founded by a tough, old, easily dislikeable patriarch called Jerry Rot, at a time when he had, (as he frequently reminded LBFF), “not even a pot to piss in when I started”. Nonetheless, like many self-proclaimed “self made men”, Jerry had enough fox-like cunning, ambition and bestial nastiness to build his company up to become a profitable entity, operated using Early Feudalism as a model. JR was in the process of handing GAS to his sons. Unfortunately, although Jerry had made himself quite successfully, he had not applied the same diligence to making his offspring, and the sons, “Marky”, “Peetey” and “The One with Weird Eyes”, had all developed with essential parts like intelligence, honour, truthfulness and decency missing. They did inherit their father’s sneakiness and love of money, but the only other discernable characteristic they displayed was an arrogance, of the type associated in the Old World with aristocracy.

Marky, Peety and the “One With The Weird Eyes” ran the three divisions of GAS – respectively Woodworking, Electrical, Bingo Halls – as cheaply as possible, but invested most of their time in internecine fighting. An employee of GAS told Foo Foo that recent family squabbles had focused on Marky’s son, Mark Two, who had been hired by Electrical to work on a large contract, awarded by the local Education board, to refit schools during the vacations. Once employed, Mark Two wasted no time, and set up a profitable sideline stealing school laptops and selling them on. Predictably, he got caught, and the family’s ire was now focused on Marky, because it had cost the Rots a considerable amount of money to pay off the school board and hush the whole thing up. Naturally, Foo Foo and Mazzer paid no attention to these scurrilous rumours and did not spend any time tell them to anyone who would listen.

Running a company cheaply usually means paying cheap wages which invariably means employing undermotivated, unqualified, inexperienced, young, unskilled staff. This was reflected in the GAS workforce. The more senior members of the Woodworking staff invariably lacked a finger or two and all, young and old were managed by Marky using the B.L.A.M.E management system {don’t Blame Anything on Me it’s the Employee’s fault}. In the case of LOPBAMP!, Marky had passed all responsibility over to a hopelessly out-of-his-depth twenty-something, and the trouble, and the project had started.

Twenty-something was in charge of a team of eighteen year olds who set about producing custom cabinets as quickly as they were capable. Unfortunately, having little experience in either woodworking, or in running projects larger than their own Grade Six Science Experiment, was a hinderance towards the final broader goal, which was to make kitchen cabinets quickly, its true, but also to make cabinets that actually fit correctly in their final destination. Emphasizing the former part of the objective, the team first made some radical decisions in respect of measurement. In a daring shift towards speed, they decided to expand on the “strong/weak” measurement system, expanding its parameters to ignore not only most of the troublesome increments between each inch, but also distracting side issues like “left”, “right”, “upper” and “lower”. Similairly, in a continuing drive towards efficiency, they abandoned cabinet shelving, plans, labeling, handles, door hinges and cabinet bases as relics of a bygone age.

This Cultural Revolution reached a peak when in a stroke of genius, they decided to stop making, or shipping complete kitchens altogether, and focus instead, on just make the easiest element of each kitchen. The effect of this was that instead of complete kitchens being received on-site, each of the 192 expectant kitchens only received one or two of the ten or twelve cabinets it had been promised. Apart from the fact that walking through LOPBAMP! randomly screwing single cabinets to walls represented a diversion to the pattern of work IRA(Not Inc) had planned, other tradespeople were becoming suspicious of the efficacy of the GAS system. Plumbers expecting to plumb, electricians hoping to wire and painters expecting to slap a last coat down were all reduced to standing round discussing philosophy and Paris Hilton.

It was this situation that Little Bunny Foo Foo and Mazzer were analyzing a month after starting the project. Their schedule, when they had estimated the job had been to complete the project in four months. Based on current progress, the boys’ Excel Sheet told them that they could now confidently expect completion in about two and a half years. Cuba was looking a long way off. Marky Rot had been contacted, and the problem had been explained to him. At first he failed to grasp the significance “Oh, you always get these teething problems”, he explained. On being pressed however, he admitted that the students who were to occupy each suite in just over five months time might find presence of carpenters, plumbers, electricians and painters in their kitchen a disturbance to their studies.

A meeting was declared necessary to sort the problem out. In the Oxford, Mazzer, who held the Rots in total contempt, was dreading the meeting, and was drinking heavily to subdue the bad taste that had come to accompany his dealings with GAS. Foo Foo, who was a brave little bunny, was drinking in anticipation, because he liked righting wrongs, and telling off bad people. Either way, both partners of IRA(Not Inc) were hoping that next week would see the end of their current Troubles.

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