Behind the Scenes

Bad Habits

Earlier this year, Habitat for Humanity fired its founder on accusations of sexual harassment. He has since created a new entity designed to support his former company. Our reporter infiltrates the world of scandalous nonprofiting with a completely fictional look inside the new organization.

New Volunteer sits on the steps of the new company complex in Georgia. He watches as a convoy of Jesus Fish-stickered vehicles stream into the lot. Several female employees with short skirts and enormous breasts emerge from their cars and make their way toward the building. One of the employees, wearing an ID tag that reads “Kitty,” approaches New Volunteer.

Kitty: So you must be the new cock in the henhouse?

New Volunteer: [involuntarily staring at her chest] Huh?

Kitty: Hey, I’m up here, big fella!

New Volunteer: [mesmerized] Pardon?

Kitty: Well, now that you’ve met the girls!

New Volunteer: Oh, sorry, nice to meet you.

Kitty: [takes New Volunteer by the hand] It’s OK, believe me. I’m used to it by now! Come on, sweetie.

Kitty gives New Volunteer a tour of the office, and introduces him to several of her plunging-necklined coworkers, each of whom greet him zealously. She leads him past several cubicles decorated with prominently placed nudie calendars and jiggling hula dolls to a large corner office. On the door, a hanging sign reads:


President & CEO
“If this office is a-Rockin,’ don’t come a-Knockin’!”

Kitty: Have a seat and wait here a moment, he’ll be right with you.

New Volunteer sits down in one of the two chairs in front of the desk. From outside the office door he can hear a page for “Mike Hunt,” which prompts howling laughter and high-fives in the cubicles. CEO enters his office, closing the door behind him.

CEO: Those guys! Hey! You must be our new recruit!

New Volunteer: [extends hand for a handshake] Yes, sir, it’s a pleasure to meet you.

CEO: [holding the handshake a little too long] Oh, the pleasure is all mine!

New Volunteer: Erm…

CEO: So! How’s it hanging? Have you met Kitty? [winks]

Before New Volunteer can answer, CEO’s phone buzzes. He looks at the Caller ID.

CEO: [pressing the speakerphone button] Keep your pants on, kid, I gotta take this.

Kitty: Sir? I have Mr. Johnson on the line.

CEO: Fine. Patch him through.

Johnson: [breathing heavily] Hello?

CEO: [leans back in chair, props feet up on desk] Hey, Mr. Johnson, sorry about that, I had another customer walk into the office asking about the very same project we’re trying to set you up on. [winks at New Volunteer] Looks like this thing’s closing up pretty quick, baby—only a couple slots left.

Johnson: [wheezes] Who is this, again?

CEO: [picks up legal pad off desk, glances at it] This is Mill. Mr.—[looks at pad] do you mind if I call you Harry?

Johnson: Well, it’s Harold, actually.

CEO: [stands, begins to walk around room] Great. Listen, Harry—we got a project coming up only a few blocks from your home and this is a killer opportunity for you to get involved—I know you wouldn’t want to miss out on this thing!

Johnson: I appreciate your calling, but I’m not sure I can commit to something like that right—

CEO: Harry, let me tell you a little about our organization. [rolls eyes and makes “jerk off” hand motion to New Volunteer] We support a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian housing organization that builds simple, decent, affordable houses in partnership with those who lack adequate shelter. Since 1976, we’ve provided shelter for 900,000 people worldwide. By 2006, our houses will be sheltering one million people. And we rely on volunteers such as you to make all of that happen.

Johnson: You sound like a wonderful organization.

CEO: [crumples mission statement he had been reading from and tosses it over his shoulder into wastebasket, holds up the “two points” signal to New Volunteer] You better believe it, slick! Harry, can you hold for just a second? [puts Johnson on hold]

CEO waits a moment, grins at New Volunteer, and presses a button on the phone.

CEO: OK, I’m back. Sorry about that Harry, my secretary just slipped a note on my desk—looks like we just got another volunteer for this thing we’re doing in your area.

Johnson: Oh, that’s good. So maybe you don’t need my help after all. I’d be happy to speak about volunteering some other—

CEO: Let me ask you a question, Harry. Do you like working with your hands?

Johnson: I have arthritis, but…why do you keep saying my name?

CEO: Don’t you like helping people?

Johnson: Well of course, but—

CEO: [leans back in his chair and lights a cigarette] Harry, work with me here, baby. What can I do to put you on this project today?

Johnson: Sir, I’m sorry but I—

CEO: [motions New Volunteer toward a coffee table stacked with magazines] Harry, I see that you own your own home, and I hope you know how fortunate that makes you. Others aren’t so lucky. Let me ask you a question: Do you have any tools?

New Volunteer crosses the room and moves aside several issues of Swank and Barely Legal to find a Golf magazine, returns to his seat blushing.

Johnson: Tools?

CEO: You know—hammers, screwdrivers, a backhoe? Shit like that.

Johnson: I don’t—

CEO: Listen, Harry, I gotta say you don’t seem too serious about this thing.

Johnson: I’m actually very interested in helping, but—

CEO: [winks at New Volunteer] Harry, time is money, baby. I might still be able to get you on this thing today if we move now. Make a move, slick. Either shit or get off the pot.

Johnson: Excuse me? A move? Shit? Pot?

CEO: [turns head away, says to no one in particular] What’s that? Only one spot left? Thank you. Oh, boy…Harry, we just got another guy signed up for this thing. Let’s do this, baby!

Johnson: Sir, I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for this right now.

CEO: Harry, wait a second. Let’s work this fuckin’ thing out, baby!

A dial tone buzzes loudly from the phone’s speaker. CEO rises from his desk and flicks his lit cigarette out an open window.

CEO: [shouting at speakerphone] Hello? Harry? Cocksucker!

Kitty: [opening door and peeking her head into office] You called? [she winks]

CEO: [laughs] Is she the best or what?

New Volunteer: [momentarily distracted by the sounds of a rowdy craps game taking place in the staff break room] Oh, yeah, she’s something else. Um…sir, I—

CEO: [crosses the room, pours a scotch] Keep it in your pants, kid. Let’s get some breakfast.

Rob Eccles spends endless hours looming over a keyboard in the murky depths of his basement office creating works of varying merit. A contributor to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, he is currently shopping his first novel, “a tale of Life, Death, and Identity Theft” tentatively titled The Poggendorf File. You can reach him . More by Rob Eccles