About John Lacombe Upon His Retirement

(by John Steinmeyer)

I first met John in July, 1994. Before that, I had only seen him in the hallway or the men's room, and he impressed me as having what you might call a gruff exterior; maybe that was because on those particular days he hadn't met his quota for running over people with his electric wheelchair.

If you carefully observe our office area, you'll see indications of John's driving ability- scratches, abrasions, maybe a few pieces of human flesh embedded in the wall from someone who didn t get out of the way fast enough.

He likes to speed in the hallway and has gained the nickname, probably self-imposed, of Rolling Thunder. That always sounded a little boastful to me, so when he had problems with his kidney stones, I started calling him Rolling Stones. John has gone thru other nicknames also. For a while he was called Jack because he was always trying to give pretty girls a lift. The girls called him laryngitis because he was such a pain in the neck.

John had trouble with his name for a while. He was going under the name J.J.J. John L.L.L. Lacombe until he found out that the priest who baptized him had a terrible stutter.

Even though it s been less than 2 years that I ve known John, I feel I ve known him for a longer time - (maybe 3 years). John served as my team leader, helping me to learn my job. I also learned about his life and philosophy and pearls of wisdom like, All the kookies are not in the jar, or never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time, and it annoys the pig, or never step in anything soft, or never play leapfrog with a unicorn.

John used to tell me stories of his life occasionally. I remember a story about when he lived on a farm and he and his buddies tipped over the outhouse into the creek. His father confronted him and told him that, in the tradition of George Washington, father of our country, he expected John to tell the truth about who did this deed. John finally admitted it, and his father proceeded to give him a sound thrashing. When John recovered, he said to his Dad, But Dad, George Washington wasn't punished when he told his father the truth about having chopped down the cherry tree. His father replied, Yes John, but his father was not sitting in the cherry tree at the time.

John is said to be very smart. For instance, he was only 16 years old when he graduated from Reform School. He is said to pick things up quickly; in fact, he's been detained several times for shoplifting.

When he was young, his father overheard him using vulgar language. He told John to stop it. And John said, But Dad, Shakespeare uses those same words. His Dad said, Well then, from now on don't play with him anymore.

But there was that time when John used to go to school everyday with his dog. Then one day they separated; his dog graduated.

When he was younger, John told his dad that he wanted to get married. His dad said he wasn't wise enough. John asked when he would be wise enough. His dad said after he got rid of the idea that he wanted to get married.

And altho John become quite skillful in working with his computer, at the beginning things were a little slow going. For instance, when John got his first computer at home, he had it set up and plugged in and it didn t work. He called the service technician on the phone and raised hell. The service tech asked him what happened when he turned on the power button. John asked, What power button?

John also had problems with the mouse as you might imagine. In one of his calls to the service tech, he raised hell because the mouse didn t work. If the technician could have seen what was going on at the other end of the line he would have seen Eugene pointing the mouse at the screen and clicking like crazy trying to get a picture.

For a while, John thought there was something inherently evil about the computer because when he would enter certain commands the computer would respond with Invalid command. John also had a problem at first trying to find the Any key, when the computer said, Press Any key to continue.

And then there was the instance where John was having trouble using a diskette, and he called the service tech again. The tech advised John that the first thing to do was to insert the diskette into the drive and close the door. So as the tech listened on the phone he heard the diskette go into the drive; then he heard John's electric wheelchair move away from the phone, and he heard the door slam.

And John even got a letter in college even tho he never played sports. But the letter was from the Dean telling him to turn down his stereo and study or get the hell out.

John is a good worker. He's been compared to a steam engine. Not so much for how good he works, but for how good he whistles. John is a steady worker; in fact, if he were any steadier, he'd be completely motionless.

John's been the idol of his family for the last 28 years; in fact, he s been idle for the past 28 years. John also had a chance to work in CPI. During the interview they asked him if he knew a reliable rule to determine the cost-of-living. He said yes, the rule is to take your total income and add 10%.

I once asked John how long he's been working here. He said ever since his boss threatened to fire him.

But John is basically a good-hearted guy but sometimes he lacks patience. He once tried to teach Sunday School to kids. He told them that when the wicked pass into the next world, there will be weeping, wailing, and the knashing of teeth. One little kid said, What about those people who don t have any teeth? John tried to gain control and said, Teeth will be provided, you little shit.

John takes life as it is despite the circumstances. He has had trouble writing and signing his name, so he signed his personal checks with 2 Xs. The bank was aware of it; then one day the bank got a check signed with 3 Xs. They called John and asked him if it was OK to cash it. He said it was his check and it was OK to cash it. They asked why there were 3 Xs instead of 2. He said he was doing so well signing with 2 Xs that he thought he d start using his middle name.

In another instance regarding taking life as it is, John met another fellow at the hospital who was in a similar condition to John. The fellow said that he used to pout and fret and curse the day he was born. He asked John if he did that. John said no, he was 3 years old before he learned to curse.

There is one instance tho where I must stand up for John, and that concerns this ugly rumor going around about John that he has a hairpiece. I'm here to tell you that John does not have a hairpiece and it is vicious to even think it; what John has is herpes, and since these words sound a lot alike, you can probably see how that ugly rumor started.

We celebrated John's birthday a few weeks ago. John is old. John is so old that when he was born the Big Dipper was only a drinking cup. At John's birthday, several people were overcome with smoke from the candles on his birthday cake.

We began to wonder, too, about John's sexual urges when someone asked him if he liked bathing beauties, and John said he didn t know because he had never bathed one.

After he retires John will probably travel to Mass. more often; he loves the area around Marthas Vineyard very much. He likes Massachusetts so much the people there named a town after him- Marblehead.

To conclude, let me say that I ve learned a lot from John in the short time I ve known him. He s shown me that there are many things possible in this life if you don t give up, if you have the courage to move ahead, and if you have a good healthy sense of humor, and he has all these things in spades. Because of all this, and because he is a gentleman and a morally good man, he is worthy of our love, and I love him.

Back to My Story