Gray Robins began to hate Pearl Sharpe. Every day in the Redundancy Factory, Gray would take a lead pipe and bend it at a perfect right angle. Pearl would take her machinery and bend it straight. Gray understood that bending was his job and straightening was Pearl’s job. Neither of them asked “why.” They simply did their jobs and collected their paychecks.
But after seven years of his bending and seven years of Pearl just straightening his pipes back, Gray began to have this feeling that Pearl was just doing this to spite him. Now the rational side of Gray knew that this was not true and Pearl was just doing her job like him. The rational side said that if he were in Pearl’s place and Pearl was in his, he would be straightening with just as much zeal as she was. But there was this other side of Gray that decided that these pipes were meant to be bent. Gray bent them and he’d be damned if some red-lipped little hussy was going to straighten out his pipes! But that was the irrational side, you see.
One day, Gray walked up to Pearl and told her straight out: “I want you to stop straightening my pipes.”
“What are you goin’ on about, Gray?” asked Pearl. “I been straightenin’ them pipes for seven years, just as long as you been bendin’ ’em.”
“Well, I want you to stop straightening ’em, Pearl. I’ve been bending all these pipes and all you been doing is just straightening ’em again!”
“Gray, you done lost your mind!” The other workers in the lunchroom were gathering to watch the fight. “If I weren’t at work, I’d belt you one good right in the Johnson!”
“Yeah, well, at least there’s one thing you can’t keep straight, Pearl!”
She belted him in the Johnson.
“Oooh! My Johnson!” Gray teared.
“Gray! Listen to me!” He winced, thinking she was going to hit him again. “You and I been working at the Redundancy Factory for too long, doin’ the same thing over and over again. What you say we ask HR if we can get cross-trained to do the other’s job. We been watchin’ each other long enough.”
Gray nodded. He wasn’t about to argue.
“I like you, Gray. You know how to take a hit to the Johnson, not like my last husband. What a louse! Ha!”
Gray nodded. They discussed the problem with HR, their shift leader, and the union president who had to bring it up to HQ who had to bring it up during the next staff meeting. After seven months, Pearl was bending and Gray was straightening. They couldn’t have been happier.