It was the morning after Superbowl Sunday. The guys were about to get to their job sites, but they were lingering outside by their trucks with hot cups of coffee, talking about yesterday’s game in pairs or small groups.
Usually their trucks would be idling, usually they would be scrambling for their hard hats, tool boxes, paperwork, clipboards, lunches, and running back to the warehouse for other forgotten or misplaced items. Usually, by this time there might be only one straggler.
But today, just like all the other post-Superbowl Mondays, they flicked ashes off of their burning cigarettes, shared anecdotes and observations, and argued over finer points of the game. Laughter erupted from the men who were supposed to be at the Waikiki seaside condominiums.
Jim stared at the men and then at the clock. They should have been at their sites 15 minutes ago. He scratched his sandy brown hair, took a deep breath, and went back inside his office. He took a sip of his large McDonald’s coffee and looked out at the men again.
In the past, he’d walk around, trying to motivate the men by saying “alright, alright” or “okay, let’s get going, we can talk about the game during lunch” but this year he knew it wouldn’t work. It barely worked last year and all he ended up getting was a migraine and a deeper resentment for the lazy bastards.
Then he lit his third cigarette. “Where’s my butt scratcher?”
“Hey!” Jim yelled. “Has anyone seen my butt scratcher?”
The men looked over at him.
“Goddamn it, where did I put it?” Jim started to cover more ground. “Where’s,” he spoke louder, “my butt scratcher?”
The game talk died down. Some of the guys exchanged looks. Others looked around or down. There were whispers.
“What’s he going on about?”
“Do you know what he’s talking about?”
“What the fuck is a butt scratcher?”
While Jim searched, the men gulped the rest of their coffees, tossed Camels and Marlboros on the ground, and started loading up their trucks.
“Where the hell’s my butt scratcher?”
Engines roared to life, cups were thrown into bins, paperwork was found, and Jim put out his cigarette and walked back into his office.