Talk about an empty suit.
A municipal supervisor who didn’t show up for work for as many as 14 years has been fined a year’s take-home pay by a court in the southwestern city of Cádiz in Spain.
Joaquín García, a 69-year-old engineer who was first hired by the Cádiz municipal government in 1990 as director for the environment, got transferred six years later to Aguas de Cádiz – the municipal water authority – and that’s how the trouble started, Jorge Blas Fernández, the city’s former deputy mayor, told El Mundo newspaper.
“We sent him to Aguas de Cádiz,” he told the paper, “to oversee the workings at Martona, the city’s sewage and rainwater treatment facility.”
But in 2010, when García was to be honored for his long service to the authority, Blas Fernández had trouble locating him.
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“He was given an office in the Aguas de Cádiz building, and there he stayed,” the deputy mayor said. “I remembered him and thought, ‘Where is this man? Is he still there? Has he retired? Has he died?’”
“I knew he continued on the payroll, so I began to ask around. I called Aguas de Cádiz and was told that nobody there knew anything — they assumed he had returned to the municipality,” he explained. “We thought the manager at Aguas de Cádiz was supervising García, but that wasn’t the case.”
In fact, Aurelio Vélez, who has since passed away, hadn’t seen him for years, according to the Guardian.
“And we discovered it when we were about to give him a plaque celebrating his 20 years of service,” Blas Fernández told El Mundo.
Sources close to the phantom worker told the Spanish paper that García was the victim in the case, having been bullied at work over his politics.
Besides, he did show up for work, a source said – “not 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. maybe, but every day.”
However, when Blas Fernández finally tracked García down and called him into his office, he didn't get a straight answer. “I asked him, ‘What are you doing? What did you do yesterday? And the previous month?’ He could not answer,” Fernández said.
Late last week, a tribunal found that García had to pay back a year’s salary after taxes, 26,920.93 euros – or about $30,000 – for taking advantage of the municipality’s lax oversight for so long.
And what did García do with all his free time?
The sources friendly to him told El Mundo that he did a lot reading. Specifically, the works of the 17th century philosopher Spinoza – whose most famous work, ironically, is the posthumous “Ethics.”