While half the battle of a successful career is showing up, for Joaquín García, not going to work was actually more lucrative. Only when the 69-year-old Spanish civil servant was expected to receive an award for two decades of loyal service did anyone notice that he had not gone to work for at least six years, according to a report by The Guardian.
García was employed as an engineer by the municipal water board in Cádiz, Spain, where his job was to supervise a waste water treatment plan.
“He was still on the payroll,” said the deputy mayor who had hired him, Jorge Blas Fernández, to The Guardian. “I thought, where is this man? Is he still there? Has he retired? Has he died?”
After the former manager of the water board, whose office was across from García, told Fernández he had not seen his employee for several years, the deputy mayor decided to question García and called him in.
“I asked him: What are you doing?” Fernández said. “What did you do yesterday? And the previous month? He could not answer.”
A court this week finally slapped García with a fine of €27,000 ($30,000), the most his former employer could legally reclaim, after finding that the engineer did not occupy his office for at least six years and had done no work between 2007 and 2010.
In his defense, García told the court that he had gone to the office, although he did concede he may not have kept a regular schedule. He also added that he was the victim of workplace bullying because of his family’s socialist politics.
Still, García supposedly made the most of the confusion and became an avid reader of philosophy during his time away from work. The Spanish media even dubbed Garcia “el funcionario fantasma” (the phantom official) due to his elusiveness, a title that is now ill-fitting thanks to the significant media attention he has recently received for his attendance record.