Two Can Play This Game

Two Can Play This Game

There was a time when I worked on a Hawaiian island. I loved it, but the job I had wasn't a year-around job. I went to the island on one job appointment, and when that one finished another job opened up, but there was a gap between the starting dates. During that gap, I volunteered, getting housing and a $100/week. This was a temporary solution until I started the paying job.

My boss at the time was... not always on the level. And he had told me that my new job appointment would start on a specific day. So I booked a flight back to the mainland to take care of some family buisness and scheduled my arrival back on the island to be the evening before the first day of my new appointment.

I had a good time on the mainland and came back to the job site. I remember the evening was wonderful. I was standing in my yard, looking across the water, the air that pink and blue that happens just after the sun sets but the light isn't totally gone.

I turned around, and my boss was there, inexplicably carrying a rug. But it was the kind of rug you put in a freshman dorm room.

"I thought this would look nice in your house," he said.


He stood there awkwardly, and I immediately knew this rug was some sort of messed up apology for whatever he was about to say.

"So it's kinda weird you came back now," he started.

"Weird how?" I asked.

"Well, I mean, your job doesn't start yet..."

I don't remember all of what he said, but I knew what had happened. He hadn't done whatever paperwork was needed, and instead of calling me while I was on the mainland he just let me fly back to the islands and then told me my start date was delayed.

"Why didn't you call me when I was with my family? I could have spent more time with them?"

"I thought you knew..."

"I knew you told me I was starting tomorrow."


I remember going back in my house, trying to wrestle the rug into the door by myself, and being so mad I wanted to hit someone. But instead, I called my friend, who was stationed on a different island and had been taking flying lessons.

"Hey, can you come get me tomorrow?" I asked him.

I had family on the island he was stationed at, and I decided I would just stay with them until my boss filed my start paperwork.

"Uhhh, sure?" My friend said.

So the next day I drove to the airport with a duffle bag, which was about the size of a shoulder carry dog carrier, and waited for my friend to pick me up.

At the airport I texted my boss, Going to another island, call me when you get my start date in order and I will be back on time.

He replied, You're supposed to volunteer to earn your housing.

And I replied, I was supposed to start today. See you when I get an actual start date.

I watched the smallest plane I'd ever seen in my life touch down and taxi to the private plane section of the runway. My friend got out. I walked to him with my bag.

"Whoa, how heavy is that bag?" He asked.

The duffle maybe weighed ten pounds.

"Uhh, like ten pounds."

He looked pained.

"What would you have done if I were fatter?" I asked.

"Let's see if it will balance if we put it in the back," he said.

My phone buzzed, but I didn't look at it. I had made my decision. Maybe continuing to work for free would have been the safer option, but I was committed.

We made it to the other island, ten-pound duffle and all. I spent a week with my family and friend, and then I got a call from my boss.

"You start on Sunday, you had better be here," and he hung up.

I booked a flight and was at work on time Sunday morning.

I kept the rug and every time I looked at its ugly pattern, I knew, I won.