The Lucas Zone

Once I had a boss who laughed at Dilbert comics that he had printed out and taped to his office door. Eventually I got fed up, and told him, no, you’re suppposed to be this guy, and tapped gently on the pointy haired boss mid-harangue.

He started screaming. He didn’t stop, even after I got up and left his office and closed the door behind me.

I came back the next day and he was still in there, face contorted in terror, the same clothes, a little more unshaven. Still screaming.

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At the time, I was driving this little ‘79 MGB GT, one of the last ones they ever made. British-Leyland build quality didn’t do the Lucas electrics any favours, and of course I was late to work quite often.

I began to fantasize about leaving a moped in the underbrush about halfway through my 15-kilometer commute, so that at least I would have mechanized transport to carry me further in the event of any future Fish & Chips Car Illness. I knew, however, that the moped would rot in the bushes while the MGB glowered and ticked endlessly onward, out of jealousy and blind anger, at the concept that I would think myself one step ahead of the unearthly power of bad British cars.

Detente impossible, we continued our daily competition, the MGB racking up the points whenever it lost idle with the left turn signal on, me evening the score when I left it outside to get hailed on during that heady summer. In a very real way, when I reflect upon it now, I realize it was similar to what I was doing in my work life. My boss, too, would treat our power dynamic as a competition, trying to place work he didn’t want to do on my nose and watch me clean it off.

The previous night, I had finally cured one of the MGB’s most persistent irritants. There was an ancient wiring harness hanging down through the firewall, and the grommet had rotted in such a way that it became permanently part of the wire’s insulation. Not wanting to touch the problem, but somehow demanding to myself that I must, I did a quick crimps-and-beer repair job and fired the car back up. It worked. I was elated. Hooked, even. I quickly resolved to solve all of the other problems in my life, to enjoy that sense of success again.

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That morning, I pulled into my assigned parking spot, one wheel squealing thanks to the open diff as I took an aggressive airplane loop around an errant bicyclist to line my approach up perfectly, and walked directly into my boss’ office, an unbroken stride of sheer confidence. After I dropped the Dilbert bomb on him, I walked back out.

I was going to leave this job, walk out and never look back. Just me and the MGB GT from now on. I was going to be free, not require any other man. I was going to be my own man, be successful, live off the land.

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My phone dinged.

It was a Moss Motors sale on Eaton blowers.

I sat back down and continued working quietly.

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