PRIG N. PFEFFER: The Seventh Chapter of Alex in Blunderland


“‘How am I to get in?’ asked Alice again in a louder tone. ‘Are you to get in at all?’ said the footman. ‘That’s the first question you know’”

L. Carroll     “Pig and Pepper”


Prig N. Pfeffer

As often happens, the technical world came up with a replacement for babbitt. This discovery ended Alex’s free ride (and, in fact, his favorite ride) for his automobile was repossessed. Alex was reduced to working for wages. It was humiliating. Even the beaver, the moose and the fish were exempt from laboring for others.

To make a long (and meaningless) story even longer I offer the following:

“Good morning Alex” said the lady as she walked up to him with hand extended.

Alex was sitting in an uncomfortable chair. He had been here before to fill out a job application. Now he had returned at the request of the personnel manager. Alex rose to his feet and zipped on his best (and most charming) smile.

“Good morning. Ms. Pfeffer I presume?” Alex asked.

“Presume nothing about me” demanded Ms. Pfeffer. “Also, you can drop the title of Ms.. I am neither Ms., Miss, or Mrs.. I am simply Prig N. Pfeffer. You may address me as ‘Pfeffer.’”

Alex was taken aback for a moment. When he had finally regained control of his brain he said “Of course mm-mmm—mm – – -Pfeffer. Sorry about the assumption.”

“Don’t apologize. Never apologize for anything while you work here – – – – – if you work here. Our motto is “Never apologize and remain arrogant at all costs.”

“Of course, Pfeffer – – – – Never apologize and remain arrogant at all costs” Alex repeated dutifully.

Pfeffer (Miss, Mrs. or Ms., whatever she was) looked over her narrow glasses and down her nose at Alex. After a very long pause (and until she knew Alex was very uncomfortable) she raised her hand as if to signal something. The back of her hand was towards Alex and her fingers were folded into her palm. Finally she raised her index finger and with it motioned Alex towards her.

Alex was very nervous about taking a step forward because Pfeffer was already in his face. Being more afraid not to follow her directions he made a slight movement indicating he would obey. Within a nanosecond Pfeffer spun on her toes and marched away with Alex following obediently behind.

“These are your mentors” said Pfeffer as she led Alex into a small conference room. Sitting around the table were three people.

The first was a man whose nametag identified him as “Fred.” Fred had a nice ponytail tied in back with a rubber band. His arms were folded across his chest. A manly-man stoic countenance finished the look that he intended everyone to see. Fred remained manly stoic and his silence reinforced his command presence.

The second person identified herself. “I am Lola. I am here to help guide you through the politically tough areas. My assets are a pleasant manner and a nice body. Both sexes are attracted to me and that is a big advantage in business dealings.”

Alex’s third mentor was a rather tall and handsome man in a blue serge suit. His cordovan toned wingtip shoes spoke well of his authority. A yellow tie with small black polka-dots alluded to his power.

“Henry is my name. I am here to introduce you to the ‘correct’ people in the business.” And to make his point Henry even used two fingers on each hand to emphasize the word “CORRECT.”

Fred gave his head a shake to show off his pony tail. Lola moaned at this obvious ploy of Fred’s vanity. A simple smirk crossed Henry’s face. Pfeffer rolled her eyes while Alex took it all in.

Alex finally broke the thick silence with “Thank you for being my mentors. I promise I will meet or exceed your expectations of me. I am quite honored to have you guiding me through this new career.”

In his own mind Alex was thinking “What a bunch of crap this is. They pawn off a bunch of imbeciles and walking wounded on me. I will probably do more to mentor them than they will to mentor me.”

Alex had no sooner finished his short speech of appreciation (and thoughts of doom) when Fred responded by giving Alex the finger. Lola bent far over the table until her low cut dress exposed more than her cleavage. Henry puffed out his chest as proud as a peacock. He was the only one who did not hear the hint of sarcasm in Alex’s speech.

Pfeffer reached down to the table and picked up several sheets of paper. She (it, whatever) handed one sheet to each of the people in the room.

“These are the rules that you will abide by” she stated officiously. “Alex, you will live by the rules, – – – – – and, mentors,  – – – – – you will assist him in meeting his goals.”

The list of rules printed on the paper read was as follows:


Never apologize

Strive for arrogance

The customer is always wrong

Ensure every product is priced as high as the market will bear

Delay solving customer problems until he stops asking for resolution

Bill early, service late (very late)

Install used or defective parts in the customers machines when possible

Screw your vendors whenever possible

Pay your bills late (unless penalties accrue)

If any of the above cause problems – – – then lie about it

If the lies cause you to be sued then continue the lies

Hold progress meetings daily

File meeting reports daily

All new ideas must be approved by five levels of management (plus legal)

Everything is fungible (this includes employees, customers, mothers, God and even fungus)


Alex, after reading the rules and considering Pfeffer’s poor choice of mentors decided on a unique approach.“What area of the business did you have in mind for me Pfeffer?” he asked.

“You know damn well it will be forging” said Pfeffer quite tersely. I know you have already served your apprenticeship.” She quickly added “With your success in the auto industry by filling in with a little babbitt I can not place you anywhere else.”

Alex quickly played his next card by asking “Well then, may I select my own mentor from the forging works?”

At this heretic request all three of the rejected mentors suddenly jumped up from the table and started running willy-nilly around the room. They accidentally bumped into each other, bounced off the walls, knocked over chairs and finally ran out of energy.

Stoic Fred was the first one to do anything after the mass frenzy. He walked over to a corner of the room, sat down and started sucking his thumb. He removed it only to let out an intermittent wail. His beautiful ponytail had come undone and was a mess.

While that was going on sexy Lola laid face down on the floor and started banging on the carpet with her hands and feet. Each time Fred wailed she would stop, look up, and display the large wet blobs of mascara running down her over-rouged cheeks.

Henry watched the others for a minute or so and then walked over to the chalk board that was mounted on the wall. He reached down, picked up two dirty chalk erasers from the tray and started clapping them together. The more he clapped the erasers the more the white dust enveloped him. You could tell by the insane smile on his face (and those eyes – – those vacant eyes staring into nowhere) that he was very pleased with himself. His blue serge suit was starting to be more of a robin’s egg blue as the chalk dust settled over the front of him. His cordovan hued wingtip shoes turned into a misty ox-blood color.

Pfeffer was choking on the chalk dust and motioned Alex to leave the room with her. Pfeffer closed the door behind them and looked around the cubicle area to see if anyone had noticed the bedlam that had occurred in the conference room. Everyone appeared busy at their desks. Pfeffer appeared pleased with her thoughts that no one had noticed because she (he, it) gave Alex a knowing wink.

Alex thought (to himself of course) “Pfeffer thinks that all these cubicle-people are fooled by her actions, but the only one fooled is Pfeffer itself.” As they walked by the desks Alex noticed that many of the employees were quite amused at what had happened. “Maybe they are more amused at Pfeffer’s self delusion than with the chaos that just occurred in the conference room.”

He added this new assumption to his knowledge bank.

“Come” Pfeffer said. “We are going to take you to a ‘New Employee Orientation’ meeting after which you will meet your new middle-management.”

Alex thought “Now she (he, it) is referring to itself in the plural. Oh well, I should be able to put my capabilities on display and then they will have to promote me out of forging.”


About Waldo "Wally" Tomosky

I am proud of my work life (not the jobs, just the work).  Bait monger  Lawn mower  Paper boy  Windshield cleaner in a drive-in theater (if you don't know what a drive-in theater is there is no sense in you reading any farther)  Snack shack janitor in a drive in theater (ditto for drive-in theater)  Milling machine clean-up boy in a tool and die shop  Plastic injection press operator  Centurion in the US Army  Factory hand  Apprentice boy  Tool and die maker  Software user manual writer  Computer programmer  Ex-patriate par excellence  Engineering manager  Software test manager  Retiree  University administrator  System analyst  Retiree (2nd try)  Licensed amateur paleontologist  Retiree (3rd try)  Shovel bum (archaeology)  Retiree (4th try)  Delivery driver  Retiree (5th try)  Graduate student (skipped AA and BA due to the level of difficulty)  Retiree (finally got the drift of it) I have been writing for fourteen years and have fifteen books on Amazon/Kindle. Some horror, some twisted, some experimental, some essay and a few historical. I think that now I will really, really, really retire and just write. Lets see if I can do retirement correctly this time!
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