No Man Is A Hero To His Valet

butlers and valets portrait

Long ago I was employed by a massive corporation in the business of manufacturing fabulously expensive, mediocre products that were virtually obsolete before installation had been finalized. Within this corporation was a department, enigmatically referred to as Human Resources, consisting exclusively of individuals thoroughly unqualified for meaningful employment.

One day, desperately casting about for ways to justify its existence, the HR Department announced Bring Your Daughter To Work Day. With uncharacteristic esprit de corps I chose to participate in this disingenuous exercise. My daughter, let’s call her Guadalupe, was eight at the time, and very like me.

At one point my manager; let’s call him Chumley Throckmorton, called her into his office. Chumley was a lovely man, painfully sincere, unassuming, and a subscriber to that delicious myth that it is possible, even desirable, to please everyone.

He told her to sit down in his visitor’s chair. She did. Looking at her and exuding all the gravitas he could muster Chumley said, “Guadalupe, I just want to tell you that your father is the funniest man I have ever met.”

My daughter’s legs did not reach the industrial grade carpeting on the floor of his cramped office and she swung her feet back and forth thoughtlessly, contemplating the ubiquitous baseball memorabilia.

Finally she looked Chumley square in the eye and, with a deadpan expression worthy of Buster Keaton asked, “Get out much?”

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Alistair McHarg

Alistair McHarg was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, moved immediately to Edinburgh, and three years later moved to Amsterdam. At 6 he settled in Philadelphia and for 16 years was confused by Quaker education; Germanton Friends School and Haverford College. A Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Louisville nudged him even closer to unemployability. Convinced at an early age that fate had chosen writing as his calling, Alistair followed a characteristically slow and circuitous path. He has found work as deck hand on a Norwegian tramp freighter touring South America, Bureau of Land Management Emergency Fire Fighter in Alaska, guide at a Canadian wilderness survival camp, truck driver crisscrossing Colorado's continental divide, and inner city cabbie. Alistair has been arranging words on paper for a living since 1983.