Category Archives: Jobs

Frequency

If it wasn’t for the radio, I’d never be introduced to new music (new and new to me “new”).

What is this a sign of? Advancing age? The times?

If I am listening to the radio, I am likely in the car (the stations are pre-set from the previous owner so I just mash at them till I find something that I like or don’t dislike). Or I’m at the office. Or someone else’s office, the doctor’s, say, or the dentist’s.

But offices tend towards Top 40, which to the untrained ear (mine) sound like one long indistinguishable song with commercials jammed in at prescribed intervals.

Or they play “oldies,” the criteria for which are becoming increasingly arbitrary with time (like 50’s “Oldies”, 90s “Throwbacks”?). No help there, not for the uninitiated.

At my previous office, they played talk radio and podcasts. Even less help there. For all I know, they’re playing such things still. No music. No new (or “new”) music.

As for me, I will continue to experience new music as it comes, one song at a time, one car ride at any given time…

Unless I hook up the Bluetooth – which of course I will – with my playlist of exactly 8 songs, circa 2003.

 

 

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Filed under Change, Jobs, Music, Pop Culture, Transportation

Plant Life of Varied Assorted Types

So far, in my garden, I have planted a tomato plant, a jalapeño plant, a butternut squash plant and two mystery plants I got from the store: they were not labelled, and I didn’t ask what they were because it didn’t seem to be anybody’s job to tell me.

The store isn’t one where you’d expect plants (to be there for sale), a varied assortment of which were plopped down by an unused register. The register seemed not to be being used so that a small collection of mystery plants (a varied assortment of which) could be plopped down by it.

Red price tags glared from the plants: $1.99 they flashed.

The mystery plants varied, from ones with board, squash-like leaves to ones with pointed bits and ends to ones that were little more than scraggily vines. Some looked edible, others did not, a few…who knew? Probably.

It wasn’t like it was anybody’s job to tell anyone else, including me. That’s how it is with plant life of varied assorted types sold in a store not specifically geared to selling plants.

What more can you possibly ask for?

I bought the plants with the board, squash-like leaves: 2 @ $1.99 (plus tax). They are very green, very strong, likely edible.

Feels like a bargain. Feels like the price of admission, willingly paid. How often does that happen?

The cashier placed the plants in a see-through plastic bag and gently handed them to me.

That, too, was not unexpected.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under City Life, Food, Hobbies, Jobs, Plants

Eponymous

Let’s skip the definition here and witness the word in action, so rarely do we get to do that with such perspicacity:

Our manager, Bristol,* ever-loving Bristol, easy-going Bristol (or so she would have you believe and, really, do I have any proof to say otherwise?), Bristol wanted to shake things up, play a little music as we worked.

Music of our choosing.

“What shall we play?” she asked cheerfully after her playlist had exhausted itself.

“Beyoncé,” answered Simone.

“O-K. Beyonce! What songs? Which album?”

Beyoncé.”

“I heard, Beyonce.”

“Beyoncé.”

“I need you to give me an album, at least to start.”

Beyoncé.”

“STOP SAYING BEYONCE!”

It took several long moments, in which nothing was said, in which nothing, (Beyoncé or otherwise) played, before Bristol, finally, blessedly caught up, got with it & realized.

“Oh. You mean – “

“Beyoncé: Beyoncé,” answered Simone.

As the music played and we four women (Bristol included) worked steadily away to Drunk in Love (feat. Jay Z), Tim, a report writer, stuck his head through the door and into our workspace.

“Wow. It’s like a sorority in here,” he said.

(Tim’s head: did I mention it was undersized?)

But Tim is another story:

Tim’s an asshole, the very definition.

 

 

 

________________________________________________

* Not real names. No real names, not here, not today.

 

 

 

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Filed under Communications, Jobs, Music, Names, People, Words

Points of Convergence (Repertoire of a 6:00AM Commute)

There was a time when my morning commute meant a pre-dawn commute before the commute. It required taking a very early bus to the subway, to another bus, and then to a station where I met up with my Work Crew for what was then another 30-to-90-minute drive to site, wherever it happened to be that day.

***

The Very Early Bus arrived at around 6:00AM and the stop was about a 10-minute walk from my house.

Now. There was my Work Crew, whom I saw every day, and then there was my Commute Crew, with whom I also had a specialized relationship (they being the first faces of the new day, which placed my Work Crew in a close, yet distant second).

 

There was really no comparison:

 

  1. Leather Jacket Motorcycle Man. The jacket was of a rich, heavy leather. It had shoulder armour (impressive!) and fit him perfectly; less like a glove and more like a second skin. I never saw a motorcycle helmet. I never saw a motorcycle. Seemed unnecessary, maybe even over-the-top.
  2. The Old Timer. He must have lived close; his stop was only one away from mine. We could have been neighbours, though I never saw him in the street. He was quite, if not rather, elderly, perhaps even venerated.
  3. Army Gent. Over the weeks I watched him go from civvies and duffle bag to full-on uniform: beret, Canadian Flag patched prominently on his camo jacket; shining, immaculate boots. And duffle bag. He looked rather dashing, set. He smiled often, and not unkindly.
  4. Mr. Hard Hat. The yellow hat was sometimes worn on this man’s squarish head or on his heavy belt and sometimes it was nestled securely in his lap. He never took his gaze off the middle distance. His hours were probably as bad (if not worse) than mine. He sat tall, and primly, regardless.
  5. Lady Grey. She and The Old Timer were friends (or maybe neighbours – there’s a difference sometimes). She helped him off the bus. She reminded me of Tea Time. She carried a big shoulder bag looped over her small torso. Sometimes it appeared heavy and overloaded, as if it were full of bricks or hard drives. Other times, it was so empty it swung chaotically around her, like a siren. Maybe she kept tea in there? It seemed full of promises. She and The Old Timer sometimes talked animatedly (though quietly) with each other, but I didn’t ever catch a word of their conversation. Why spoil a good thing?

 

The Subway was usually empty at that hour, or it was full of people still clinging to or retreating back towards the last vestiges of sleep (including me). It was warmer, roomier, quieter there: you could be totally alone. It was easy. Can you blame us?

The Another Bus was not without its charm. For example: The Man With the Scruffy Dog He Kept Inside His Jacket. For example: The Woman Who Cut Her Fingernails At the Back of the Bus. For example: The Bad Hermit. But by that time of day, the riders were more diffuse, more varied. I never kept close track of them.

The Station had the Steel Drums Man. By then, it was about an hour into my morning commute to my commute (sometimes longer if traffic was bad). Whatever time I arrived, he was there, playing away on a set of steel drums in the vast corridor connecting the buses and the subway, near but not too close to the escalators leading to daylight. The perfect spot.

After a while I realized that he was playing the same set of songs every day, day after day. I realized then as I remain sure now that it could not have been otherwise: they were nice, and he was very good at them. He made them sing. 1) Seeing the Steel Drums Man and 2) hearing him play meant that 3) I had made it (for another day at least). One more day at least. No small feat, by any measure.

***

My commute before the commute went on for months, until there came a time when work was scarce and I was laid-off from the company for the winter. In the spring, I walked to take the Very Early Bus again.

The bus driver recognized me immediately.

“Where have you been?” he cried. Each word was almost its own sentence, its own question: Where. Have. You. Been?

It felt good, if not right (not really) to be there again, with my fellow pre-dawn commuters. Sometimes you don’t need all that much to count on, and the extras you do get don’t make up for anything but themselves.

I saw Motorcycle Man, The Old Timer, and Lady Grey, though there were a few new faces I didn’t recognize.

If anyone was missing, I’m sure they had their reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under City Life, Employment, Jobs, People, Places, Routines, THE PAST, Travel

Book B-I-N-G-O (Part 2)

(con’t from Monday’s post)

The BOOK BINGO sheets were prominently tacked on the wall near the stairway leading up to the managers’ offices, a veritable dead zone for employees like me. Dallas, my manager, caught me a week or two into The Great BOOK BINGO Challenge of Twenty-Fifteen, standing in her way, staring at the sheets, paralyzed by indecision.

The sheets glared back, white and hot and waiting.

“You know,” Dallas said. “You’re allowed to read whatever you want.”

“This isn’t a test. Just pick a favourite,” came her voice, tinny and smelling faintly of copper.

“I’d like to know your favourite,” said Dallas, and smiled.  

***

(Dallas’s teeth were sharp and yellowed. Rumour had it she had a fake tooth, but no one knew which tooth was the fake tooth. It was anyone’s guess.

I sometimes imagined her taking her new tooth, fresh from the dentist’s office – a brilliant enameled chip, or maybe a hard, alabaster nugget if it was a molar and meant to crush and grind – and staining the tooth with tea bags and coffee grounds on her kitchen table, late into the night, and doing so until she was absolutely certain no one, not one living soul, could tell just which tooth was the fake tooth as she smiled at them from behind dead eyes.)

***

Rumours are many-edged, double-faced things that can cut and bite you if you approach them the wrong way. They proliferate like vermin; spread like wildfire.

Which also means that rumours can be useful – travelling fast and burning away at things until their cores are naked, exposed.

Eventually, it hit me again: the categories didn’t matter.

It was the books.

The books were the key.

***

“Why the Hell would you read Fifty Shades of Grey as your BOOK IN A SERIES? That book is pure, unadulterated smut. And it’s not even good smut.”

“You sure, Dallas?”

“Trust me.”

I read, I adapted. I read some more.

The Secret is your IMPORTANT BOOK? Dallas and I love that book,” boasted Houston, another manager and Dallas’ husband (the place was pretty incestuous, but only insofar as most office environments are incestuous, which is to say not very much, by comparison). “You know,” he continued, lowering his voice, “It’s, like, an open secret.” He winked. It was foul.

I read.

It became a source of power, and a refuge.

The Art of War isn’t an EPIC POEM!”

“It is, Phoenix, if you read it fast enough. The Chinese starts to rhyme.”

“Are you joking?”

It saved me from myself.

***

Did I read all the books I marked off on my BOOK BINGO sheet?

Yes.

Did they fulfill their categories?

Yes.

Were they good books?

Honestly: any book that sets you free is a good book. Any book that does precisely that is worth its weight in fucking gold.

Yeah. I won BOOK BINGO that year. That year, I got bragging rights and learned so much compared to what I eventually gave away. And then I found work in a better, more supportive environment.

There is no doubt about it. It was because of the books.

***

I wonder: did the others who partook in The Great BOOK BINGO Challenge of 2015 do the same as me? Had they recognized the power lingering on the other side of books?

If they had, I didn’t notice, which of course would have been the whole point.

 

THE END

 

 

 

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Filed under Books, Education, Employment, Interruptions, Jobs, People, Relationships, Ritual

Book B-I-N-G-O (Part 1)

My interest in doing anything diminished by something like 98% whenever I’m specifically asked or told to do it.

Perhaps I am a contrarian, but I doubt it.

This tendency, this character trait, this human flaw, whatever you want to call it, thankfully does not interfere with my work life, which makes me a Good Employee. For all intents and purposes.

Maybe not a contrarian then, but simply a pragmatist.

Whatever it takes.

Look. I tried to get along with my office mates (I try to get along with everyone!) but it isn’t always easy or convenient (or wise) to do so. Offices especially can be strange environments – few resources (promotions, photocopying privileges, pens & paper) makes for some intense competition and, in my case, produced some rather toxic rivalries. Everyone seemed to know this, but that isn’t the same as saying it was acknowledged, openly or otherwise.

Or is it just me?

(It’s not just me.)

*****

There are things people did to ease the tension: some brought in cookies and candy, others organized office potlucks, a few nominated themselves (or were nominated) as to go-to people to for those wishing to celebrate their birthdays at the office (after work hours, and we all had to chip in for the cake).

There were few birthdays at the office.

For a while we were allowed, encouraged even, to bring dogs in to work (“Pet dogs,” reminded our boss, Tucson,* pale, immaculate finger wagging in the air, adding his usual linguistic garnish as a way to stay at the head of the decision, though it may have been a directive rather than description, it was hard to tell with him).

But the dogs quickly became bored, then destructive, then somewhat belligerent (they could sense it too, the tension, and were getting spoiled from the cupcakes people fed them under their desks).

A NO DOGS policy was instituted.

For a while after that, there was nothing, save the baked goods and the potlucks and birthdays as rare as black, winged unicorns (or promotions).

Then came BOOK BINGO.

*****

Phoenix came up with the idea, and it seemed a good one. It seemed inventive and sound and, most of all, harmless. We were, after all, a group of smart, educated people, who often professed our love of books in the narrow, sagging hallways of the ramshackle building that housed our cubicles, on the tacky carpeting that ran beneath our shared workspaces like an oil slick; in the upstairs kitchenette with the broken microwave. Some of us were even in book clubs.

Book clubs, even!

*****

The categories listed on the BOOK BINGO sheets that Phoenix printed out for us seemed interesting and (dare I say it?), fun:

 

B-3: A DYSTOPIAN NOVEL.

I-5: A GRAPHIC NOVEL.

N-2: A BOOK WITH A BLUE COVER.

G-1: A BOOK PUBLISHED IN 2015.

O-4: A BOOK WRITTEN BY A FEMALE AUTHOR.*

 

“Where’s the harm?” I said.

And Phoenix smiled.

*****

In the end, five of us (it was a small office, despite everything), signed on for what was already being hailed (by Phoenix, ever the ringmaster, ever the MC) as The Great BOOK BINGO Challenge of 2015 (pronounced “twenty-fifteen”).

Because not only had we agreed to play, we would play big: no rows or columns of B or I, or the like or that ilk. Not even impressive diagonals would do. The winner would be declared the first to complete the entire BOOK BINGO sheet (all twenty-five squares, minus the star in the middle that marked the free space). The good space.

The prize would be bragging rights (or cake if we all wanted to chip in for it).

*****

Bragging rights I wanted.

Bragging rights I understood. Bragging rights were how you got around a place like the place where I worked, how you carved out a space for yourself and kept it that way.

I got books out from the library. I took gathered books that I had purchased from second-hand stores and garage sales and had always meant to read, sometime IN THE FUTURE, when the time was right. I made piles and lists. Books towered on my nightstand. They littered the floor, crept onto the bed and invaded my dreams.

I consulted BOOK BINGO sheet, and took a closer look at the categories carefully picked out by Phoenix:

 

N-1: A BOOK PUBLISHED THE YEAR YOU WERE BORN.

O-2: A BOOK BY SOMEONE YOU ADMIRE.

N-5: AN IMPORTANT BOOK.

O-3: YOUR. FAVOURITE. BOOK.

 

And it hit me.

Each category – it asked a lot. Each would give the people I saw every day – and really only because I was paid to be there (seeing them was, in a way, incidental to being there) – a little something of myself.

It hit me hard.

*****

(Was this a bad thing? Was it bad? It didn’t seem good. Not like it mattered at that point. I was in, do you understand? I was making progress, even.)

*****

I remember thinking: I am a Good Employee. I can do this. This is good.

Besides, I reasoned, maybe I was being silly. Perhaps I was overreacting in order to compensate for the state of things. Seeing ulterior motives and indulging in paranoid fantasies where there was only collegiate goodwill and a genuine, concentrated desire to connect. I was seeing entitlements where there were only efforts to create a more open, friendly, happy place to work.

A BOOK BY SOMEONE YOU ADMIRE.

But then there was never enough pens & paper.

AN IMPORTANT BOOK.

There was never enough to go around, if certain people needed it.

YOUR. FAVOURITE. BOOK.

And I was not certain people.

… TO BE CONTINUED

 

________________________________________________

* Not real name. All names, and possibly genders, have been changed to obscure the identities of the very real people that lurk just behind those identities.

* This required a special category???

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Books, Change, Dogs, Employment, Jobs, People, Pets, Places, Politics, Relationships, THE FUTURE

Out Manned

 
The Man was already screaming at The Cashier by the time I turned off my iPod and caught on. I was buying bread and Drano®.[1] There was a line of people behind him, trying very hard to ignore what was happening or, like me, openly gawking at what was happening.

Cashiers have it hard. Sometimes they have it real bad.

There are certain inevitabilities to being a cashier and I think it has a lot to do with the obligations of the job and the expectations that surround it. Of being professionally servile and acting as if this were a feat of personality rather than a fact of cold hard survival.

Service with a smile.

This is true for a lot of places.

This may as well have happened: there was spittle flying from The Man’s bottom lip. He was, in any case, livid, screaming about The Cashier’s “stupid manners,” refusing to believe that the bouquet of flowers he wanted to purchase could be so “fucking expensive”. [2]

Taking abuse with poise and fortitude – keeping cool, absorbing it all until the incident passes or until management arrives to deal with the Difficult Situation – this is what separates committed employees from the unambitious dregs just out to get a paycheck.

The flowers were for The Man’s moth-er! Did the cashier not understand?

In this way, everyday abuses get disregarded, and managers don’t always come to help.

Hedging bets against the customer makes more sense than counting on them for anything.

The Man brandished that bouquet at the cashier. “Brandished” (vb. to wave or flourish [something, esp. a weapon] as a threat or in anger or excitement) is the word.  Had The Cashier been trained at all? How did she even get the fucking job since she obviously can’t even handle this obviously simple fucking transaction? No, he did not want a price check you stupid fucking girl.

I was a cashier for a while, and it was hard and sometimes real bad.  Working too few and too many shifts, standing for hours on end, earning next to nothing is hard; having to deal with other people’s total fucking bullshit is sometimes real bad.

Hell is.

The Cashier was poised and she had more fortitude than I imagined even possible in her difficult situation, but it was wearing heavy on her. It was very obvious by now that there was nothing she could say or do to appease The Man, even if she really wanted to.

Finally and thank god:

“Rachel,” the cashier next to The Cashier announced over our heads, “I’m calling The Manager.”

The Man scoffed, did not bother to turn around. “Go ahead and call the fucking manager! I’ll give her as good![3]

But The Manager did not come.  I don’t know why.  We waited forever until, finally, someone did come.

A man dressed in white.  A man whose motorhead mustache seemed to drip with the same blood that spattered his apron. A man whose solid, concrete frame and massive stature casually dwarfed those around him.

The Butcher.

The Butcher's Shop by Bartolomeo Passerotti c.1580

His arms knotted in work muscles – solid, but not quite defined – sleeves rolled up to reveal body hair as black as holy sin, he had come from the back of the store to tell The Cashier that The Manager was not there. He didn’t know why.

Service with a smile means survival of the fittest. You have to adapt.

“Hey! Over here, Bruce!” It was Rachel.

“What’s up?” asked The Butcher, looking at her curiously.  She directed his gaze with her gaze to The Man, standing there, agape.

Taking half a step, The Butcher turned to face The Man.

“What?” He may have barked it. He crossed his meaty butcher arms as he said it.

“I…nothing,” muttered The Man, wholly uncurious, the exact opposite of anything approaching curious.  Keeping at least one eye on The Butcher, he dropped a few bills and coins on the counter, hesitated, and took some back.

Rachael took his money, rang him up and tossed him his change. Hard. As soon as she was done, she excused herself to the old lady standing behind The Man and hurried to somewhere in the back of the store, away from the cash register.

You can’t pay someone to care.  You can’t not pay them to care, either.

I wondered idly how much of her shift she had left.

The Man shoved the change into a worn pocket. He left the store, flowers in hand, less now like a scepter than a lot of dead weight he had to drag all the way home.

They were limp. Obviously, he squeezed too hard.

 


[1] Mutually exclusive purchases, I assure you.

[2] Actual quotes.

[3] ???

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Filed under Emotion, Employment, Jobs, Politics

The Giant Fleshball of Mysterious

 
And we dug (digging being a huge component of the job, sometimes even the job itself). There were trenches and units all over the site (that’s were we work, a site) and as we continued to dig, as we dug, as we kept up digging, suddenly, shattering the rhythmic clanks and scrapings and pounds and scratches of the metal on dirt, of metal on rock , of metal on metal, a dull *THUD*, palpable, and a scream, human.

Primal.

Ear-splitting.

There! Right at the bottom at the end of a unit, exposed from the impact of the shovel, remarkably precise, debris collapsing around it like the dust of fallout, deeper than apparently possible, evidently impossible.

A near-perfect sphere.

Warty, fleshlike. Gigantic, and unambiguously, almost unapologetically staring up at us like a goddamn dare.

A giant fleshball of mysterious.

It began to pulsate, subtly. A Thing most certainly alive.

We edged around it, wondered briefly if it could be worked around, somehow, as if by the sheer will of communal defiance we could banish it from the here and now, repressing its discovery back under the surface of our minds as if it were something doctors’ tests would later confirm as benign the whole time anyway.

But of course we couldn’t do that, just ignore it, this fleshy alien intruder, and especially not after it began to extend something, something – began to extend this something out and up and toward and into the musky late afternoon air, sunlight throwing its various lumps and divots into terrible relief.

An appendage, jointed in two, folding out like the arm of a satellite, jerking and sputtering like a jalopy in its death throes.

An arm! No, wait! A Leg!

Toes? Toad’s? Toad’s toes!

Proof, as only crappy, out-of-focus photography can do it.

The Daring Fleshball.

A Toad.

An honest-to-goodness goddamn fucking live toad now only buried head first, so a little less like toad than ostrich. After still more self-conscious hesitation, I finally reached down pulled it forever away from its hibernation home. It was just small enough to almost fit in my hand, where it rested a little then defecated uncontrollably.[1] It tried to blink, but failed.

You should have seen it! Its expression, the utter stupefaction etched on the poor bastard’s ectothermic face, his eyes squinting at completely different angles, his mouth slightly agape, a tiny forearm grasping at the nothing of the empty space in front of it.

Jesus. I can’t imagine that, how it must have felt, to be torn so violently away from its great subterranean slumber just under the comfortable safety of the frost line. And with winter coming; it must have knew.

But I can venture a good, solid guess on what its last thoughts must have been.

What the fuck?

Whatthefuck?Whatthefuck??Whatthefuck???
 


[1] Can you blame it?

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Filed under Animals, Jobs

Question? Answers!

 

“So, what do you do?”

I guess I’m getting to that age where I get asked that question a lot, and with some real expectation attached to it.

This is not unexpected.

People my age (or thereabouts, and in other words by now) have careers, real estate, cars, kids and, like, blu ray.[1]

Me? 

No.

Why?

Because!

No matter.  The question persists:

“So, what do you do?”  

The answer, “Nothing”, doesn’t satisfy and gives an air of cold detachment from the question, not to mention the asker.  Rest assured: it is unintentional, such aloofness!

Or at least I don’t mean it.

Especially since, “Oh, you’re in management?  That’s.  Amazing.”

So, in the spirit of begrudging acquiescence to banal inquiry, it’s come time to shore up a better list, a repertoire if you will, of new! exciting! suitable! answers.

Well, answers anyway.

Q:  “So, what do you do?”

A: _______________
 

1)   I am a Swamp People.

2)   Wrangling.

3)   The Erotic Arts.

4)   Loving you.

5)   Tina Fey Impersonator (not going well).

6)   “Going Greener than anyone has ever Greened before.”

7)   Preemptive Taxidermy.

8)   Icon Repair  😦 Þ 🙂

9)   Two words:  Sock.  Puppets.  Four words.  Six.  Seven.  No, eight.  TEN??

10)  Fish Monger!  (Fishwife?)

11)  “I work exclusively in the medium of Gummi.”

12)  COCKTAILS!!!

13)  Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box.

14)  Hard, industrial solvents.

15)  Pet Psychic (Afterworld Only/Weekends Only/Online Only/No Chinchillas/Cash Up Front).

16)  [Something Else to Do With Fish]

17)  “Well, these days, I’m under there.”[2]

18)  Shafting.

Can you dig it?

Mine too, baby.

19)  Baby Hypnosis.

20)  Subway Pusher (transportation, cold-cut combos, inclusive).

21)  Winston Churchill Impersonator (going exceedingly well).

22)  24 Hour Cosplay.

23)  Human Dryer.

24)  Bouncer.[3]

25)  Lips.[4]

26)  Following Jesus.[5]

27)  Dismantling the Hegemonic Bloc.[6]

28)  “Let me ask you.  Have you ever come face-to-face with a Cassowary in Full Crest after it’s done away with your entire team in the dead heat of jungle night?  You do that.  You do that and come back here and tell me what it’s like before you ever again ask me what I do.”

29)  Popping Caps.[7]

30)  Your Mom.[8]

31)  Homemade Botox.[9]

32)  Hollaback Girl.

33)  Family Tree Fan-Fiction.[10]

34)  Poof Reader [sic].[11]

35)  Ghost Hunter Hunter.[12]

36)  “You’d have to ask Cindy herself.  I am a robot She created in Her image, to deal with matters vis-à-vis this.  You.”

37)  Cryptozoology.  I Find Your Chupacabra or Yeti  in 30 minutes!  Or I don’t.

38)  “You ever notice how Batman and I are never in the same room?  Think on that.”[13]

39)  Abstract Sandwich Artist.
 

Pick and choose! 

But you may as well highlight #30.

It’s on.
 


[1] I do have Netflix depending on how popular Netflix is that day and whether Stephen is downloading anything at the same time I want, say, to watch Shakes the Clown again.

[2] Tee-hee!

[3] OK, yeah.  Me?  I know.  But you have to see the people that this actually works on.  I can’t even.  Wow.

[4] ?

[5] “Hey-Seuss”.  I was going to meet him at a farmer’s market but it was closed, which is perfect because he doesn’t actually exist.  No footprints.

[6] Just kidding.  No one does that.  Um, what’s hegemony?  Like even.

[7] Bap, bap, bap.

[8] Totes.

[9] Faux-tox.  It aspires to Botox but cheaps out, much like my clients.  Yes.  I come to your house and/or hotel room.

[10] Slowly, creatively, methodically, I gratify your desperate need for human connection in this crazy, fractured modern world, with its nuclear family units and hi-speed Internet, whist inflating your generational sense of self-important entitlement by grafting familial branches wherever you want them.  Shit, you can be related to Julius Caesar and David Beckhem for all I care.  Chaka Khan.  Whatever, man.

[11] Poop Reader [sic].

[12] All you have to do is follow the heavy, laboured path of ridiculous.

[13] YOU’RE WELCOME.

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Filed under Jobs

Good Times

To keep up certain habits (i.e. food, shelter), I took a job at a Goodwill store a few months back, which I subsequently quit a few months back.

My home away from home away from homeless.

My home away from home away from homeless.

Now, you’d think that working at Goodwill would be like going to a thousand garage sales a day EVERYDAY where you get to have THE BEST TIME rifling through other people’s stuff and making snap judgments on poor lifestyle choices not made by you…and maybe, also, pick up a little something nice for yourself. Like a hotplate or Robocop on VHS!

God, I thought so too.

At garage sales, people generally try to sell things that they think other people would want to buy, despite a little wear and tear.

Most of the stuff that ends up at Goodwill is the refuse of all that PLUS things that were never good enough to make it to a garage sale (Robocop 2), things that should have been trashed (Robocop 3), and things that just should have never been (Robocop: Prime Directives) but, Jesus, who wants to get another bag?

Hence begins again and anew the cycle of THRIFT!

Thrift, I learned, is one part Abundance, one part Hardship, and one part Crazy.  The portions shift now and then and Crazy bonds well with either of its counterparts to help create the supply and demand side of thrift, but the ingredients remain much the same.

Thrift is born from fashion and growth spurts, from broken relationships, pay-raises and pink-slips.  From bedrooms without any cushions and bathrooms with too many accents.  From living rooms missing furniture and dinning rooms full of nick knacks. From crushing loneliness, immobile desperation, chronic boredom and hipster irony.

And it all rolls downhill, as Things generally do.

And A Hot Plate!

Why must you elude me, hotplate? Why can't we just forget the world and be together?

It starts off, say, with a box of musty old books and your aunt Gertie’s Hummels, and maybe a bag of unwashed laundry that your cat had a litter of kittens in a few weeks ago.  It ends, for you, with a drop-off box by the 7-11 or a quick stop at a donations door.  A courteous hello, maybe a handshake, and you’re suddenly a slightly better citizen with slightly less stuff.

For the stuff, however, turmoil. Because once those things cross that threshold at the donor door, they are ripped open – eviscerated as their contents are spilled onto plastic table tops – and are seized, snatched up and sorted by frantic, ravenous hands on a quota system with a razor thin margin for error.

And that is how I ended up day after day with your tattered, shit-stained underwear dangling from my thumbs and forefingers.  It is how I found myself gagging at your discolored, crotchless sweatpants, and it is how I laughed away many a shift upon the discovery of yet another one of your “Wolf Against the Moonlight” shirts.

Wolf, wolf, WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE THESE?

Those, however, were the slow days.

During my tenure at Goodwill, the real “treasures” that came through those doors were many, and included:

  • One singed marriage licence (Texas)
  • A broken wine rack crawling with sliver, eyeless cherubs
  • Three glazed and lacquered alligator heads (large, medium and small)
  • A grocery bag full of woodchips
  • A small Ziploc baggie heavy with pot
  • One Banana GuardTM , which my co-worker thought was a dildo, which evidence suggests quite possibly was used not to guard bananas.
  • An assortment of shapeless, mismatched men’s socks with a cat poo in the middle
  • A million leotards inside one giant, incomprehensible leotard
  • One bag of pristine Boston Pizza dipping sauces.  With napkins.
These are the things that filled my days.

Later, gator. Oh wait.

We had pricing sheets plastered all over the walls near our workstations.  Phase Two was to determine the Value of the Things before us in accordance to the listed prices.  There was a sliding scale based on, for example, condition of object, original cost, rarity, age, brand name (if any), smell, current status as on object of desire…

It was awful.

To have to focus, really focus, on a pair of ratty-tatty Aldo boots in order to decide if they’re worth $7.99 (base price) or somewhere in the $12.99 range.

Or watching the store manager ignore burgeoning international law just so that she could place a knock-off Gucci bag in the store’s “Special” (read: theft-proof) display case at a whooping $21.99.

Or to have tell some broken-eyed woman that, no, you can’t have that bag of grimy MacDonald’s toys for $1.00 (all she had) because it costs – it is worth – $2.99.

Yet, as traumatizing as all this was, it was the Collections that haunt me so.  We got dozens of them; boxes and boxes and boxes of unwanted inheritance, forgotten hobbies and discarded trends.  I remember hordes of figurine frogs, beanie babies, salt-and-pepper shakers, elephants great and small, bananas (yes, MORE B-A-N-A-N-A-S) and cows and monkeys and babies and kitty cats and bells and napkin holders and schnauzers and tea pots.

Smile, smile, smile, smile, smile buddha style!

Oh. My. Buddha.

Can you imagine?

These boxes weren’t the result of an intensive citywide canvassing campaign.  No.  They came from ONE house and most likely from ONE person who was most likely dead, or close to it.

Can you imagine?

Picture, if you will, a small army of anthropomorphic lizards that silently gaze at you as you butter your toast in the morning.  Or a chorus of white baby angles that witness your every move in the bathroom.  Or an entire troop of monkeys that watch you as you sleep (etc.) in your bed.

Oh god. They're conspiring!

Bizzaro Monkeys.

Now concentrate that – put all of it into a box for some poor, unsuspecting soul to explode upon themselves as they open it, and combine that with the unenviable task of having to price it all out after the fact AND under the watchful eyes and blunt mind of an upper management convinced that the Vietnamese mart next door was run by “the Chinese mafia.”

It became a second-hand Hell, sorting it all out. Reliving someone else’s bad decisions, bearing witness to other people’s regrets, excising retroactive impulse control on behalf of total strangers, all in order to make a buck or two.  Or three.  Or $21.99.

CAN YOU IMAGINE?

And I can still see them, those sharp little eyes staring up at me every night in my darkest dreams.

See any green flecks?

Hey there, Bright Eyes.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure is another person’s living, waking nightmare.

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