You have to admire employers who want to acknowledge long term employees for their years of dedicated service. Such was the situation with the city of Cadiz, Spain, when they prepared to present a service award to an employee who had given two decades of his life to toiling for the local government. Except they had one small problem.

They couldn't find him. And when they did, they found out that he had not shown up to work for at least six years – and they suspect it might have been up to 14.

Joaquín García, a 69-year-old engineer, began working for the city in 1990 and in 1996 was posted to the municipal water board, Agua de Cadiz. He was supposed to supervise a waste water treatment plant for the board. It wasn't until the city tried to recognize him for his life service that they discovered he wasn't there. His boss, who had an office directly across the hall from his, told the Deputy Mayor of the town that he had not seen his employee for several years.

It was a simple mix up, really. A tribunal looking into the matter concluded that the water board had “believed García was the responsibility of the city council for most of the period of his employment, while the city council thought he was working for the water board.”

Dilbert is alive and well, and it would appear, working for the city of Cadiz.

But the story gets even better.

This all happened in 2010, “the year before Garcia retired”.

You read that right. The man retired from a job for which he had not reported to work during the previous 14 years. I wonder what kind of pension he received.

Garcia claimed he was the victim of workplace bullying because of his “family's socialist politics” He said he had been deliberately sidelined at the water board, and that he was afraid to report the harassment because he feared he would lose his job. Right. Instead, not showing up for work for a decade and a half seems like a much more secure route. And surprisingly, that appears to be the case.

Actually, the guy is a perfect socialist. He sat on his ass for 14 years and let working people send him a check.

This all hit the news this week, when a court fined him €27,000, the after tax equivalent of one year's annual salary. The court found “that the engineer did not appear to have occupied his office for “at least six years” and had done “absolutely no work” between 2007 and 2010, the year before he retired.”

It is ironic this only came about because someone wanted to recognize him for a job well done. Sometimes it just doesn't pay to be recognized for your years of dedicated service.

Investigators noted that Garcia “made the most of the confusion”, and spent much of his extended leave becoming an expert on the works of Baruch Spinoza, the Dutch philosopher credited with laying the foundations of the Enlightenment. Spinoza taught a “philosophy of tolerance and benevolence”. He also apparently correctly believed that Spanish waste water treatment plants could run themselves (I'm glad I don't live downstream from Cadiz). Ironically, Spinoza is also known for his treatise, “Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order”.

I suspect our job skipping engineer might have glossed over that particular tome, as his behavior demonstrated no ethics whatsoever. He may have studied Baruch Spinoza, but he seems to have lived more like Jeff Spicoli.

Google “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” if you don't understand that reference.

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