Hand-me-down, Push-me-down Barge

My dad left the house when I was young but I still grew up a pretty good kid even without him around. I had a few great friends, school was going well, and I had an ACT score in the top 5%.  After high school, my father contacts me and asks me to come join him in the Nexus — he owns a barge there and seems to be doing really well. Since I really didn’t have a lot of options lined up at the time — and a little adventure sounded like fun — I went to work for him on his barge. I was young and excited to be working on a big barge in the Nexus — especially since I would be learning from my dad  — a guy who seems bigger than life. So, I gather my belongings and move to the Nexus — and instead of working next to my dad, he puts to me work with the cleaning crew. And not the crew that cleans the arena and gets good pay, he put me to work in the janitorial department, cleaning the bleachers — picking up all the crap the crowd left after the Barge Fights. I figure he doesn’t want to play favoritism and wants me to learn everything from the ground up — so I put in my time and do the best job I can.

Several years go by and I am still on the janitorial crew — I haven’t gotten to work with my dad at all although we party together at all the company functions. Over the years, I have learned everything there is to learn about the job and I am now in charge of everything janitorial. I hire the new guys, I fire the lazy assholes, I do the ordering, I am in charge of getting rid of the waste — it’s a shitty job, but I am owning this thing — I made improvements in processes which allowed us to shave off half the crew and still get the job done in the same amount of time. I meet with my dad to have my yearly review — I tell him about all the accomplishments and how the janitorial team is running better than ever with less people. My dad responds, “Yea, that’s your job. We’ll talk about things again next year.” — ok, that was a little less appreciative than I was expecting. Maybe things will get better as I continue to prove myself to him. I hear a guy in the maintenance department is retiring soon — maybe I can try my hand at that.

Fast forward six years, I’m in my late 20’s and I am now in charge of the maintenance department. When I first started, I didn’t know the difference between and wrench and a screwdriver. Over the last several years, I have mastered every system on the barge. I can fix anything from electrical, to the engines and warp drives, all the way to the arena floor saws — they always seem to get jammed with the bones of poor Helots that get in their way. Since I started here, I have implemented proactive maintenance programs that take care of systems before they break — this means we spend less time and money fixing things and need less staff to keep the barge running in better shape than ever. It’s not really what I had pictured I would be doing with my life, but I do feel good making a difference around here. Still not working with my dad, but man we throw down at all our company events! — he even put me in charge of running most of them and everyone has a great time. Whenever I try to talk to him about work, he pretty much blows me off unless there is a problem in my area — in which case, it’s less like talking and more like being yelled at and called a dumb-ass. I’m pretty sure he is proud of me though — how could he not be? There is an operations management position coming up — I know enough about pretty much everything — I’m going to put my name in the hat.

I have been the Operations Manager for about eight years now. Things are running incredibly smooth all across the barge — it took a lot of work. I laid off about 60% of the entire crew after writing SOP’s that improved efficiencies in every department. I have this barge running lean and mean. Now, we host less Barge Fights per month — limiting our risk of getting raided by the INC — but we make more profit overall because of less overhead and the renegotiated Barge Fight contracts I got pushed through a few years back. My dad is now retired and only comes on the barge a few times a year — I’ll never forget his words to me when he retired, he said, “with me gone, this barge will be shut down in 6 months.”  Always the supportive father figure. To be honest, when I first started working here, I never thought I would still be on this barge over 20 years later — I always kind of wanted to try my hand at being a Lanista — I think I would have been good at that, I’m too old now — but hey, at least I’m making a difference around here and the people I employ get to feed their families. I’m taking a vacation next week — going to go see my dad on his luxurious retirement ship.

My dad and I have a great time while I’m there. We party, get drunk, eat very well, and go watch some sanctioned Barge Fights together — those are the expensive ones where everything is top-notch. Boy are those sanctioned Barge Fights the way to go — personal waiters never let your glass get empty. Anything we want is sitting within arms reach. The seats are all reclining leather and the place smells way better than any of the barges I’ve ever been on. Anyways, afterwards we head back to his ship — we have a nice little talk where he says he is finally ready to turn over the barge completely to me — I can pay him every month until I get it paid off and I can run it like I want to. This thing will finally be all mine. I go home proud that my dad finally trusts me enough to sell the barge to me — and mean, why wouldn’t he? I’ve been killing it in every department all these years. I’ve been in great spirits running the barge ever since that meeting with my dad — I think I’ll call him up and see what we need to do to get the paperwork all rolling.

I call my dad all excited — the day is finally here — I’m going to own my own Barge. My dad answers and I tell him we should go ahead and get the paperwork together to sell the barge over to me. He responds, “why the FUCK would I ever sell the barge to you? What makes you think I would do that? Are you stupid?” — wow, that was not the response I was ready for. “No dad, I’m not stupid. Remember, we talked about this when I was over there on vacation a few weeks back?” I answer. “I don’t know who the fuck you think you are! That’s MY barge and will always be MY barge you little shit!” he fires back at me. — No, he’s not psychotic, that’s his way of changing his mind. A huge lump forms in my throat — my dreams destroyed — “ok, ok. Forget I ever brought it up.” I tell him. He hangs up in my face as tears roll down my cheek. I can’t take this anymore.  I have stayed up for days in a row working on this barge, making sure everything is perfect. I have expanded my skill-sets to ensure I know everything there is to know about this vessle — I have given my entire adult life to this barge….to HIM! I gave up my future for THIS!? But my dad isn’t done with me yet. No, he doesn’t stop there. I’m not completely pushed down.

A few days later, I get an email from him. Basically, telling me the same type of stuff. “I am crazy if I ever thought he would sell me the barge. Why would I ever think I could own a barge like this?” — so on and so on. I am about to fucking snap…. I jump in my little cruiser and fly off around the corner — I just gotta get out of that barge for a minute. “FUCK THIS!” I scream to myself…”I’m calling this motherfucker right now!” — I dial the phone and he picks it up. “You didn’t take long to process my email.” He snarks. “You’re damn right. I didn’t even need to read it after the phone call. Here’s the deal…I’m out. You figure out whatever you are going to do with this barge — and you figure it out without me. I’m done.” I retort. “What do you mea–” “I’m DONE! What don’t you understand?” and I hang the phone up. — breathing hard and a tear in my eye, I sit there in the ship — staring off into the Nexus. Looking at all the barges tied together, there must be hundreds and hundreds of them. I think about what might have been. I know I am better than most at pretty much whatever I put my mind to. I think about how if I would have chosen to become a Lanista and how I know I would have been rich and famous beyond imagination by now. All those barges…I better hope that one of them is hiring — I’m pretty fucked right now, I have no clue what I’m going to do.

The next couple of days I go into work at the barge as normal. I haven’t heard anything from my dad — but if I know him, he’s going to be high-tailing it over here as soon as he can. His wrath is never one to go un-quenched. I’ve seen my dad in these situations many times before. He’ll come in, tell everyone they suck, and they are horrible at what they do, and that their lives have no meaning. He’ll demean me — again — and possibly throw stuff around the room. Then he’ll either tell me to get the fuck out or he’ll settle down and come to some sort of compromise — who am I kidding. Compromise? No, best case scenario is he’ll figure out a way to make me ask to keep my job and then allow me to do so. It will be any day now.

Here is the part where I tell you that everything worked out and there is some snappy-twist ending that just blows your mind. Well, I got news for ya. This is real fucking life in the Nexus –the snappy-twist ending is that hopefully I get to keep my job long enough to either formulate a strong Plan B to keep me afloat, or change my dad’s mind about selling me the barge one day — if past behaviors are the best predictors for future events, I’d say there is a Helot’s chance versus a Barge Beast against that happening. Either way, I meant what I said. I’m done — done with him being my boss and I’m done with the status-quo. Somethings gotta change. But I’ll be patient and play it smart the way I always have. I didn’t get to where I am by making rash decisions. As for now, I await the arrival of the one I have seen as my dad all these years who apparently never really saw me as a son.



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