A Spanish civil servant made the best of a confusing situation for six years.
Hired to manage a waste water treatment plant in the southwestern city of Cádiz, the civil servant worked for a water company run by the local authorities. Both thought the other was keeping an eye on him. For at least six years, engineer Joaquín García didn’t go to work.
And it’s possible, according to The Guardian, that his absence stretched for double that amount
Instead, García stayed home, read philosophy and became an expert. He is now claiming that he went to the office on occasion, but not for full business hours, BBC reported.
To top it off, he collected his paycheck every month. Joaquín reportedly kept it a secret because he didn’t want to get fired and he needed the money to support his family, The Local added. If he lost his job, he feared he wouldn’t be able to find another one because of his age.
Six years passed and the company continued to believe he worked for the city, and vice versa. García kept reading his philosophy, collecting his checks, and keeping his mouth shut until he retired.
Until the civil servant, who on paper seemed to be the perfect employee, was nominated for an award: loyal service for two decades. Then, the whole story came out.
García had started working for the local government in 1990. In 1996, he was given a position on the municipal water board, Agua de Cadiz. He was told that his job was to supervise the treatment plant.
Fast forward to today, and deputy mayor Jorge Blas Fernández, who hired the man back then, went looking for Joaquín to give the dedicated civil servant his award. But, he was nowhere to be found.
“He was still on the payroll,” he said. “I thought, where is this man? Is he still there? Has he retired? Has he died?”
The guy who had an office across from Joaquín’s, the former board manager, he said he hadn’t seen his co-worker in quite some time. Fernández asked his employee to report to work.
“I asked him: What are you doing? What did you do yesterday? And the previous month? He could not answer.”
His employers discovered that he hadn’t sat behind his desk in “at least six years” and had done nothing between 2007 and 2010. He retired in 2011.
Since his scheme came to light, he said he’s suffered a media “lynching.” The Spanish press has provided a catchy nickname as well, “el funcionario fantasma,” which translates to “the phantom official.” El “fantasma” has also asked the mayor to get rid of the fine and for the judgment to be reviewed.
There is another side to the story, and an explanation for why, in six years, he never showed up for his job.
He claims that when he was appointed to manage the treatment plant, he found there was nothing to do. The authorities had “deliberately sidelined” him and when he did go to work, he suffered workplace bullying because of his family’s socialist politics.
The retiree is claiming that the situation was so difficult that he suffered from depression and went to a psychiatrist. Of course, he has denied all of the allegations against him.
On the bright side, García’s now an expert in philosophy.
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