Roy wants me to make several calls arranging for the carpets to be cleaned, a gardener to come spruce up the yard, and a window treatment guy to give an estimate on installing blinds. He also wants me to call a few lawyers just to feel them out, see if they can help his traffic ticket situation.
Since cell reception is bad in the house, Roy suggests I take my phone upstairs. Just make sure you take your socks off up there, he says.
I decline. This bothers him.
At the end of the day we arrange for me to return at the same time the next morning. We talk about payment; I say the end of the week will be fine.
That night, I tell a few friends about my day and nearly everyone is in agreement: I should have insisted on being paid right then and there. I’m not sure what to make of this. Roy may have been strange – yes, he was certainly strange – but he’s out to scam me.
Their doubts needle me. Maybe they’re right.
The next morning, Roy is in a good mood as he opens the door. Just doing some sun meditation, he says.
I tell him, before we go to hockey, that I have two requests: one, no open containers when I’m driving. Non-negotiable. He nods. You’re right. And two, I thought it about and I changed my mind. If it’s all right, would you mind paying me for yesterday and today at the end of the day?
This does not go over well. I see the frustration and anger rising. He accuses me of questioning his integrity. I apologize. It’s not enough. He goes in rhetorical circles for fifteen minutes. I stand there. Nodding. Every once in a while objecting, trying to smooth it out. Trying to get him to see it from my point of view. It’s hopeless. He brings up the socks from yesterday.
Roy: Maybe you think you’re too good for this job.
And I think: There was a time when I was too good for this job. Then my loans kicked in.
Roy: I just want a relaxed atmosphere.
Easily achieved with raspberry vodka.
Roy: I don’t want this to feel like a boss-employee relationship.
Which is why you sit in the BACK of the car.
Roy: I want it to be like a frat.
He simmers. I ask if he’d like me to leave. He stews. Mulls it over. Decides I can stay, finally convinced he has taught me a valuable lesson. There will be many more valuable lessons by then end of all this.
We drive to hockey in silence. Turns out it’s a pick up match today. Lots of guys show up. Including this big tall alpha dude who was born furious and only finds occasional relief by winning insignificant contests.
I watch this guy as Roy plays. Trash talking. Screaming expletives. I watch Roy slice past him, out-skate him and score a goal.
Could you believe that guy? Roy asks on the way home. I know, I say. What a tool. It’s like everybody’s there to have a good time, he says, and this guy’s playing like there’s NHL scouts in the stands.
I smile. A moment of solidarity. Maybe this will work out after all, I think. Maybe this will be okay.