Sammy Nickalls
February 15, 2016 9:00 am
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Want a heaping dose of irony this Monday? Take the story of Joaquín García, a Spanish civil servant who was going to be awarded an award for two decades of loyal, dedicated service when officials realized he hadn’t shown up to work for over six years — possibly up to fourteen.

The Guardian reports that back in 2010, García was due to collect his service medal, but the man who had hired him, deputy mayor Jorge Blas Fernández, realized he had no idea where he was. García had been working — well, at least on the payroll — at the local authority in Cádiz since 1990; in 1996, he was posted to the municipal water board to supervise a waste water treatment plant. “He was still on the payroll,” Fernández told el Mundo. “I thought, where is this man? Is he still there? Has he retired? Has he died?”

The answer to the last three questions: Nope. García, who is now retired, told the court that he may not have kept regular business hours, but was the victim of workplace bullying because of “his family’s socialist politics” and had been purposely cast to the side at his job; his friends told el Mundo that García was afraid to report this because he had to support his family and was fearful that he wouldn’t be able to find another position at his age.

The court fined García over $30,000 — the equivalent of a year of his pay — after it was decided that there was no evidence of García having shown up to work for at least six years, and that he had done “absolutely no work” between 2007 and 2010. But how could this have possibly happened? Turns out the water board thought the city council was in charge of García, while the city council thought the water board was in charge.

TBH, the whole thing sounds like an episode from Parks and Recreation. But one thing’s for sure: García made out pretty good. After all, he did get about five year’s pay without doing any work, and the entire time he was supposed to be working, he got heavily into reading philosophy — specifically, works on Spinoza, the Dutch philosopher credited with laying the foundations of the Enlightenment. Well, at least he was productive with his (six years of) time off.

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