CHARLOTTE, NC—Timothy Benson, 27, a self-described "fast learner and motivated self-starter," showed up for his first day of work at Williams & Broderick Accounting "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed" Monday, instantly earning him the undying hatred of his new co-workers.
"He walks in here, and the first thing he does is hang this poster above his desk that says, 'What Can I Do To Make This Company The Best It Can Be?'" said actuary Lance Douglas, a 14-year veteran of the firm. "Then he introduces himself to everybody in the office with a big smile and a hearty handshake, and offers to take his department head out to lunch so 'we can get to know each other better.' God, I hate him."
Though Benson has not even been at Williams & Broderick a full week, he has already reorganized the company supply closet with a simple color-coding system, offered to take on some extra projects over the weekend and purchased a birthday gift for office manager Thom Heffernan's five-year-old son, guaranteeing that he will be permanently loathed by virtually everyone else at the company.
"'Oh, excuse me, Mr. Spivak, can I help you with these forms?'" mocked co-worker Ellen Carper, repeating Benson's words from earlier in the day in a high-pitched, obsequious-toady voice. "What a friggin' kiss-ass."
"I've been hauling my tired old ass into this hellishly sterile office for 22 goddamn long and miserable years, planting myself here at this same windowless cubicle and cranking out the same meaningless TXR-50 forms 'til I'm blue in the face," said associate client-services director William Richelieu, 51. "The last thing I need as I'm trying to hold on to what little of my sanity remains is some young son-of-a-bitch running around trying to increase productivity and get me to foster 'team spirit.' If he doesn't quit running to the fax machine every time it goes off, I'm going to go to his house in the middle of the night and slash his tires."
"Then we'll see who shows up 15 minutes early," Richelieu added.
Thus far, Benson has picked up several new skills outside of the bounds of his job description, teaching himself how to change toner cartridges, un-jam paper trays and replace the jugs on the office water cooler. He has sent out five separate intraoffice memos offering tips on how things could be done more efficiently, and has even brought homemade cookies for "the whole staff."
"He should get cancer," said Janice Mulroney, who two years ago, in recognition of her 20th anniversary with Williams & Broderick, received a gift certificate good for dinner for two at a local Red Lobster. "Every day I curse this hellhole."
Benson's positive, go-getter attitude has earned him not only the enmity of his coworkers, but of their family members, as well.
"My Howie has done his best in that thankless job for 17 years, and he has a very stressful position. It was bad enough before. The poor man, he would come home and have to sit in front of the TV for hours just to decompress," said Iris Petersen, wife of longtime Williams & Broderick employee Howard Petersen. "But ever since this new character showed up, he stays up nights unable to sleep, thinking about how this kid is angling for his job. We don't have a lot of savings. It's hard for a man of his age to start over in a new career. He can't digest his food, and he's been drinking more, too. I don't know who this Timothy Benson person thinks he is, but he must enjoy making a good man suffer. If you ask me, he's some sort of a monster to torment my husband this way."
Benson insists his positive, can-do approach not only benefits the company directly, but is also a great way to motivate other staff members.
"By raising the bar and doing the best job I can," Benson said, "I show my co-workers that they, too, can do their jobs better. And by setting a good example for management, I show the top brass that they can expect more out of their other employees, as well. That way, everybody wins."
Benson's co-workers agreed with his higher-expectations theory. "If that brown-nosing bastard doesn't knock it off, those greedy mothers in management are going to get the idea into their evil pea-brains that all of us should work just as hard as him," Richelieu said. "I hate him. One of these days, a couple of fellows ought to put on ski masks, corner him in the parking garage some night when he's just put in five hours overtime working late, and work the overachieving little bastard over with a couple of goddamn baseball bats."
"My ulcers were bad enough before he showed up," Richelieu added, "but that smug prick is going to drive me to the grave."
Benson, however, remains optimistic about his future at Williams & Broderick, saying he is "eagerly looking forward" to his first quarterly employee evaluation.
"The sky's the limit!" Benson said. "Look out, Williams & Broderick, there's a new kid in town! Just think: In five to ten years, who knows where I might be in this company?"
Benson is expected to burn out into suicidal depression in approximately one-fourth that time.