Sal Oberon sat in contemplative meditation, riffing on Universal complexity but, more specifically, on the density of moronic ‘non-person orientated’ people out there, as a gaggle of waiting children sat around him, dribbling and waiting for the master’s effervescent insight.
‘Children. Listen. It transpires that the incidence that comes under the category of being nice to someone no longer figures as, well, just that. What we seem to be obliged to suck up, my little ones, is that being nice actually equates to a gross occurrence of not following procedure. Procedure, dear ones, is all, apparently.’
Sal Oberon leaned in towards the huddled mass, as quiet and as utterly flummoxed as they were.
‘Come closer, my poor future-indoctrinated no-hopers. This is the way things ought to be: procedure can tickle my fat, hairy arse. You know? Yes, you do. Procedure is to people as a slap round the head with a wet lettuce is to instructive learning.’
One child picked his nose and wiped the stringy bogey down his friend’s sleeve. Sal Oberon pretended not to see, and also he couldn’t muster the energy to even care.
‘Look,’ he sighed. ‘Maybe if I tell it as a story instead of trying to slide up sideways with a sneaky gallon of wise words . . .’
The children brightened instantly.
‘Ooh, a story. Please a story, Sal Oberon, huh?’
Sal Oberon groaned. This was the future he was speaking to, nay, blessing with the wonder of his learned experience.
‘Fine. Fine. Right, a story it is.’
He lit a cigarette and blew smoke into the face of the nearest child, who spluttered, but who came up smiling.
‘Once there was a poor shat-upon fairy geezer called . . . oh let’s call him, say, Sal Oberon . . .’
‘Really, Sal Oberon? He sounds like you.’
‘Ye-esssss,’ Sal Oberon uttered. ‘So, this poor shat-upon just happened, one day, to actually feel like giving a shit about someone he interacted with on a daily basis. This someone was poorly. Sal Oberon phoned him up and asked him how he was. A conversation ensued. Sal Oberon then said goodbye.’
‘Huh?’ said several children, if not directly then by mouthing it.
‘Exactly: huh? Well, it transpires, my little future fucked-ups, that being nice is anti-procedure for The Powers That Be, a.k.a. The Forest Council of Complying With Everything and Anything. Oh yes, it’s anti-procedure on account of the possibility of the damned Unions declaring it a degree on the wrong side of hassling. Yes, I can see you’re as non-plussed as I am about this.’
Sal Oberon stubbed out the cigarette on his boot, standing up to shake the filth of ‘procedure’ from his coat.
‘When you reach the age of futile resistance to wage slavery, little ones, don’t forget the wise words of old Sal Oberon. Don’t accept the bullshit that having a give-a-shit conversation with someone, even and especially a worse off than yourself lowly editing-elf, amounts to hassling that someone to get their arses back to work, will you?’
The children all obediently shook their heads, not at all conversant with their master’s teachings. Sal Oberon headed out of the hollowed-out tree stump that served as a teaching space.
‘Farewell, fuckers. Till next time. Don’t let your usual teacher know how I taught you real things, if and when they turn up.’
Sal Oberon shuffled off, contemplating whether or not to let the said usual teacher free from his temporary incarceration, strapped up by the nether regions in a nether region of the campus. Sal Oberon gave no more consideration to the matter of ‘being nice to working colleagues’, unionised or otherwise, hoping with all the ill-will he could muster that the overlords of said colleagues and himself might readily choke on their own procedural alphabetti-spaghetti.