Man Woman Equality
a short story
Thomas Beatie in the Oprah Winfrey show
Gerard’s life was a road to nowhere. He had dropped out of school at 16 and sat at home most days, watching TV and playing video games. He had boggled his brains with marijuana, mushrooms, cocaine and heroine. He could barely go through a day without drugs. Since he did not have a job, he could not earn any money and pay for his addiction. So he constantly had to steal from his parents.
Gerard’s father left his wallet on his bedside table every night and Gerard would sneak in, snatch the wallet and take out his Father’s debit card. His father had trusted him a long time ago with the pin number but Gerard kept the number in his head and used it almost every day. He would leave the house, walk down the street and go to a cash point. There he would withdraw money and meet the dealer. This routine went on and on for months.
One night, the pattern of dishonesty and theft was broken when Gerard’s father saw him put his hand over to the bedside table. His father abruptly grabbed Gerard by his arm. Shock travelled up his arm and into the young man’s head. Gerard had to think of an excuse.
“I was just, eh, well I was just,” Gerard stumbled, scanning his mind for an excuse.
“Taking my card and stealing my hard earned money?”
“Um, I, well I’m sorry.”
“Gerard, I know what you have been doing and I’m going to help you put an end to it. There is a job you could get, you could earn yourself a bit of money and finally have a responsibility. I’ll talk to you in the morning.”
Gerard was not in the least bit sorry. Morals were not something that he possessed. He did not care who he hurt, even if it was himself, all he wanted was the drugs. They made him see the world from a different prospective. Gerard’s life was dull and boring but drugs brought excitement to life. They could turn his poky, grey house into a crystal palace, his parents into giants, his street into a yellow brick road and sometimes they told him that he could fly. The only thing that Gerard felt was annoyance. He was annoyed that he had been caught and his routine had fallen to pieces.
The following day, Gerard’s dad took him to the job that he had told him about. Gerard did not know what to expect. He had visions of sitting in an office and drinking coffee all day. But he had never worked in his life. So he was not sure what lay ahead of him. After about five minutes, travelling down the roads, the car pulled up next to a supermarket.
The father and son walked into the supermarket together. Gerard’s father talked to a man behind the desk and Gerard introduced himself. Gerard was disappointed; he did not want to work in a lousy supermarket for the minimum wage. He did not have much choice though. It appeared that his father had arranged it. So Gerard had to give it a go.
The man behind the desk led him to a room with the sign “Employees Only” on the door. In that room there were many boys and girls who were about the same age as him, some a bit older. This cheered him up a bit. He thought even if the job was going to be rubbish, he might make some new friends!
Like Gerard, all the boys and girls present in the room were new recruits. Everyone was told what was expected of them and how they should perform their duties. After the introductory speech, all new employees were handed out the employees’ shirt which was white with red chequers on it.
Work was straightforward. All Gerard did was stack shelves and push trolleys back into their trolley park. It was easy work and it kept him active. After a few days he started to enjoy it. He met interesting, funny new people and things were starting to look up. He still did drugs, but he did not have the time to go and buy them so frequently. He completely stopped stealing money and his parents were pleased with him. He was staring to turn the corner but his happiness was shattered one morning.
His father dropped him off at the supermarket at 8.30 as usual but when Gerard arrived, it looked like nobody was there. He decided to go to the “Employees Only” room and when he did that, to his relief everyone was there. They were all being talked to about a drug test. They were instructed to go to the toilets and urinate in a cup and then write their name on a label and stick it on the cup. Gerard’s heart sank. He was starting to change his ways and now his dreams were going to come to a halt.
He took his cup and label to the Gents and went into a cubicle. Gerard sat on the toilet seat and his head crashed into his hands. He scanned his brain for a solution but he could not think of anything. His urine sample would scream of drugs and then his parents would find out! Gerard sat there for about ten minutes and eventually decided to urinate in the cup. Then he decided to get up and see if everyone else had finished.
Back in the “Employees Only” room, dozens of paper cups containing urine lay on a table. Each one labelled with the name of their owner. Nobody was in the room, everybody had left and suddenly an idea sparked into Gerard’s mind. He pealed off a label from a cup and stuck it onto his cup! After that, he wrote his name onto a label and stuck it on the cup that he had taken the other label from. The plan was simple but genius.
He left the room with a smug grin all over his face. He thought he was the cleverest employee in the supermarket. He told himself that he had beaten the system and everything was going to be fine. Gerard strutted up and down the isles, performing all of his duties with cheerfulness. The next day everything was as it had been before. There was nothing to worry about until his manager called him into the ‘employees only’ room.
“Gerard, we got your results from the urine test.”
Gerard smiled happily to himself. The manager looked at him incredulously then paused for a few seconds.
“Yes, go on, and,” Gerard said who was in suspense.
“The urine test shows that you’re pregnant!”
Copyright © 2009 Manasvi Gautam. All Rights Reserved
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Editor: Manohar Khushalani
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