Ergophobia: A Fear of Work

(Fear of work)

“Dew-w-w-w-ey!!! Get yer self down hyere! It’s supper-time!”
The shrill call of Dewey Linden’s mother was better than having an alarm clock. Even though Dewey was a heavy sleeper, his mother’s voice was such that he often told her that it could bring the dead back to life. Dewey had been taking his afternoon nap, as usual, and the call to supper, or any other meal, was a sure-fire way to make sure that Dewey’s daily need for nourishment was fulfilled. Although he didn’t consider himself obese, just well-fed, 200 pounds for a man of 21 years of age and 5’7” was, as his mother said, “healthy”. When he was a teenager, he had been fifty pounds heavier, but joining the high school wrestling team had helped him lose some of that weight. He still lifted weights almost every day whenever he was in the mood, but the summertime heat tended to cause him to lose interest.
“It’s ’bout time you got yerself outta bed. I don’t know why you gotta sleep so much. Maybe if you got yerself a job, you’d have a reason to sleep.”
“Ah, mom. I jest don’t feel like doin’ much when it’s hot like this.”
“Shoot, it ain’t that hot! You better get yerself out tomorrow and find yerself a job or I’ll kick yer butt outta this here house.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll look. Ya don’t have ta keep naggin’ at me.”
“Boy, watch yer mouth! I’m just concerned fer ya. The extra money wouldn’t hurt none either.”
Dewey was used to his mother’s threat to kick him out of the house if he didn’t get a job, but he couldn’t find a job that he really liked. He supposed that some people might consider him lazy, but he preferred to think of himself as choosy. Since he was 18 years old, he’d had twenty jobs. He lost most of them because he couldn’t stand working with other people. If he could find a job that paid well and didn’t have him dealing with a lot of people, Dewey would be happy.
Early the next morning, before his mother woke up, Dewey loaded up his beat-up Toyota with his fishing gear. He had gotten into this habit because of his mother’s constant harping about getting a job. He left the house just before dawn and drove a couple miles outside of the city limits to a spot that he remembered that his father used to take him to when Dewey was a kid. It was under a magnolia tree which grew on the bank of the Mississippi River. Dewey would set up his fishing pole, sit with his back to the tree and read the newspaper. He would be sure to read the Want Ads so that when he returned home, he could honestly tell his mother that he had looked for a job. In order to make his story more believable, Dewey would release any fish that he caught instead of taking it home with him. Dewey decided that if he brought his catch home, even if it would be contributing to the household, it would be better to not give his mother a chance to tell him that he was wasting his time.
Dewey had been at his fishing spot for twenty minutes when he came across an ad. It read:
Sales rep wanted. Minimum wage plus commission. Must have own transportation. Call 555-9555. Ask for Zeke Doumant.
Dewey thought hard about every sentence in the ad; he wanted to make sure that what the position was offering would fit into his own criteria. Since he had not got any bites on his line, he decided to put an end to his “work day” and go back into town and call about the job. When he arrived back in town, he went into the Newberry drug store, put a quarter into the pay phone and called the number from the paper. The phone on the other end rang twice before it was answered by a woman’s voice.
“Doumant Sales. How may I help you?”
“Yes, ma’am, may I speak to Mr. Zeke Doumant?”
“Is this in regards to the ad?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“One moment, please.”
A pre-recorded music tape came on the line and before Dewey could identify the first song, he heard a click and a male voice said,
“This is Mr. Doumant. How may I help you?”
“Yes, sir, my name is Dewey Linden and I’m calling in refrence to your ad in the paper. May I ask what I would be selling?”
“Well, Mr. Linden, the job requires you to travel to various businesses and pitch various forms of printed matter to them. Now, before we go any further, may I ask, do you have your own vehicle?”
“Yes, sir, I do.”
“Very good. Why don’t you come on down and we’ll finish the interview and, hopefully, get the paperwork out of the way. Do you know where Hester Avenue is?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Alright. We are located at 1025 Hattiesburg Street, just around the corner from Hester. I’ll tell my secretary to expect you.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Dewey hung up the phone and went out to his car. He wasn’t exactly happy about what Mr. Doumant had told him about the job, but he decided that he had to fulfill his promise to be there. Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as Mr. Doumant had said, but he had to make an honest effort to try, if for no other reason then to satisfy his mother’s expectations. Dewey soon arrived at the address he had been given and parked his car. He entered the building and asked the woman at the front desk for Mr. Doumant. She phoned into his office and then told Dewey to go on in. Mr. Doumant turned out to be a man who appeared to be in his fifties with a ring of white hair and rosy cheeks. Dewey was a couple inches taller than him but that was really irrelevant. Dewey sat in the chair that Mr. Doumant indicated to him and Mr. Doumant instantly started to ask Dewey some questions.
“Have you ever worked in sales before?”
“No sir.”
“What sort of educational background do you have?”
“Well, I graduated from Hattiesburg High School.”
“What sort of work experience have you had?”
“I’ve worked at Burger Barn during my senior year in high school. I’ve done some construction work, and I’ve worked as a bagger at the Piggely Wiggley.”
“I see. Are you available, if necessary, to work on weekends?”
“Yes sir.”
“Now, as I stated to you on the phone, this job entails that you call some businesses and try to sell them on advertising with our business. We are a small business that prints up fliers for local businessmen; we make our income from the amount of business that our sales representatives bring in. Do you think that you can handle that?”
“I believe that I can sir.”
“Good. Now, do you have any questions?”
“If I may, my job would be to come here, makes some phone calls to set up appointments, and then go to these appointments and pitch the benefits of having our company print up fliers for their businesses. Is that correct?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“And for doing all of this, I get minimum wage plus commision, is that correct?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Alright. When would I start?”
“That’s what I like, a go-getter. I have a few more interviews today, but I should be able to let you know my decision by tomorrow. Do we have your phone number?”
“I’ll leave with your secretary, if that’s alright.”
“Very good. Thank you for coming in Mr. Linden.”
With the interview over, Dewey left the office, gave the secretary his name and telephone number and left. During the interview, Dewey had felt slightly uncomfortable. He had answered all of the questions without stuttering, but had felt some sweat form on his forehead. He sat in his car for a minute, looked at his watch to see what time it was, and seeing that it was time for lunch, he drove home. His mother was not home when he got there, so he made himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, poured himself a glass of iced tea and went to the living room and watched TV. After finishing his lunch, he went back out to the living room, turned off the TV and took a nap on the sofa. By the time that he had awakened from his nap, Dewey’s mother was home. He told her about his interview and that he would probably get the job. Just as he finished telling his mother this, the telephone rang. Dewey answered it. It was Mr. Doumant calling to tell Dewey that he had decided to hire him and expected him to come into work the next morning. Dewey’s mother was happy to hear that her son had finally gotten a job. She gave him a kiss on the forehead and then went into the kitchen to begin making dinner. In the meantime, Dewey began to think about what he had committed himself to; a job that required him to actually talk and persuade people to buy products that they probably didn’t need or want. He thought about the job all through dinner and even missed watching his favorite television show. By the time that he was ready for bed, Dewey had made up his mind.

“This is Dewey Linden. Could you let Mr. Doumant know that I am sick and will not be able to come into work today. Thank you very much.”
Dewey had decided that, even though it didn’t pay anything, the best job that he could cope with was working on ways to get out of working. His fishing pole was back in his car the next morning.

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