Why I Drive a Truck
I once read a bumper sticker that said, “JOB HUNTING IS LIKE WALKING THE PLANK.” No shit. I despise looking for a job. It’s the only thing worse than actually having one. I believe that you should be allowed to use a gun on a job hunt, and there should be a job hunting season. It’s worked fine for postal workers and their exemplary, news-making last day at the office. Why not turn this sound logic in the other direction?
I’ve considered many options to spending yet another morning bout of caffeine/nicotine/primal scream in front of the classifieds: gay porn for one; on a similar line of thought sperm donations (I failed the “family history” section of the pre screening); and I even considered bone marrow donating, but it was too painful and debilitating.
Like many of my friends, I could have gone into sub-teaching, but somehow I knew that it wouldn’t be advantageous to me remaining a free man in a society that tends to look down on giant men that drink heavily, want to beat children with canes like a villain in a Dickens’ novel, and that have sex with girls under the age of eighteen if they are desperate and insecure with enough daddy issues to offer it up to them.
At the end of my collegiate, drinking spree, the government turned off the money tap, and what few credit cards I had quickly dwindled to nothing. Even with several friends working as bartenders, I was able to maintain full unemployment for three months. I was still a greenie at non government subsidized slack. Nowadays, I’ve gotten it down to five months of work too seven months off. Eventually, I’ll perfect it to one month on to eleven off. (Note: That never panned out. I wasn’t born rich. I’m on the work all year with giant breaks in between semesters like everybody else in academia.)
Through a drunken friend’s fuck buddy, I landed a job at a temp agency. Following a piss-test, I saw the overseer who ran this moveable plantation workforce. She chatted up the usual Corpro’ horseshit lies about how their service finds so many permanent Jobs for its employees. I needed whatever job(s) they had; hence, any rational arguments to the contrary such as: “If you guys found everybody jobs, wouldn’t that negate your little niche in today’s shit labor force?” were kept under wraps. Besides, she was one of my friend’s booty calls, and I had seen the long rap sheet of girls, boys, transsexuals, an actual hermaphrodite three-way, barnyard animals and other semi humanoids too vile to mention that this über-cocksman had fucked, written down in his hump Journal and drunkenly bragged to us over pitchers of Suds. She was being punished enough by the potential bouillabaisse of STD’s that came flying her way via his unsheathed dong. Karma, gotta’ love it when you can see it work.
Assignment #:1 Mailroom, Riverside SSI office — $10.50 an hour. (Okay wages in 1994.)
Still, I was elated. “No minimum wage, fry cook job for this boy,” I bragged to my friends who were all still gainfully unemployed and living off their girlfriends. For fuck sake, you’d think these guys were musicians. None the less, I was happy to be able to earn my keep, make my way and maybe even take part in the American Dream of never-ending debt; the sandwiched shitbox house in the ‘burbs flashed on the horizon, a new truck and a leech like wife shitting out one living tax deduction and future child support payment after another. The future was shining bright.
I got fired my first day on the job: a new record for me. Turns out, another temp and I were in the break-room rapping about methamphetamine and the bizarre, frazzled sub-kulture that surrounds it. One of the brain-dead case-workers overheard the gist of our conversation and reported that a couple of drug addicts were working around stacks of government checks. Too much COPS! I’m a drunk you stooopid bitch, not a junky. Pay more attention to your state power propaganda programming you dumb lackey, and learn how to eavesdrop. The following day, I performed another piss test, this one for the temp agency’s request. They had to make sure I didn’t turn into a raving drug fiend overnight,
Assignment #2: Shipping and Receiving Technician (translation hand loading 100 lb boxes of half rotten meat onto trucks) $8.50 an hour.
I managed to last the three day tenure of that Job. It would have made a wonderful career, except the handle “shit-head” was hard to deal with. Someone had called up central casting and brought in a bad stereotype from a black exploitation flick to run this work-camp. Colonel something or other was this fat fuck’s name. He referred to himself in the third person and never left the safety of his golf cart to bark down orders: “Alright, the Colonel needs you shit-heads to get them rib eyes split and palletized into stacks of twenty five; then put ’em in the coolers on the five fucking trucks in loading bays four through nine! If I catch any of you shit-heads trying to take one of these boxes out the back door, I’ll bury you in the fucking orange groves!”
Considering the rather curt and southern cop managerial style, it would behoove him to call up the Pope’s security team and find out where he can get that golf cart a barrier of bullet proof Plexiglas. I hopefully wait everyday to bear the happy news of his work place execution at the hands of a disgruntled employee. By the way, I did manage to lift a 75 lb box of rib-eyes, and I took it out the side door that had fake alarms and a phony remote camera hooked up to it.
Assignment #3: (Fourth piss test in less than two weeks. Ordered by the hospital and performed by the hospital. I was getting so used to having some overpaid boob in white jacket watch me urinate that I was getting painfully close to developing another costly fetish to act out at my local ‘in call exotic dancer service,’ nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Courier, Riverside General Hospital — $7.50 an hour. Once again, the county workers got 30 percent more an hour to start and a benefits package that would cover the transplant of a fall set of organs, eyes, and all their teeth.
I’ve always lauded Goodwill for their employment of the handicapped, especially in the “mentally challenged” department. When I first met my permanent co workers, I thought they had been hired on through a similar program. Fast food workers are MENSA candidates compared to the staff of the courier department at Riverside General. Appropriately enough, this department was housed in a trailer on the outskirts of the hospital grounds. I learned the job in one day. I was informed that it would take me a couple of weeks to get the hang of it, so I was made to shadow one of these clods for the remainder of the week and half way through the next. They worked in slow mo’ and had the bedside manner of an autistic drone.
During my “training,” I witnessed more than one painful Three Stooges attempts of these dullard, dimwits taking people in traction between units. I looked on silently horrified as three of them knocked counter weights off balance, turning the patient’s already unbearable situation into a slapstick nightmare. These nimrods shouldn’t have been trusted hauling bricks, much less wounded, vulnerable people whose entire being is steeped in pain.
Me and James, the other temp, performed the majority of the work load while the other eight full paid, full benefits, glassy eyed, ceiling fan staring Neanderthals did all they could to keep from drooling on their soft, fatted torsos. We’d pass them as they lumbered through the halls like some Oompa Loompa whacked out on Thorazine.
The worse part of the work day was taking breaks in the trailer, which was SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). The county slave masters, slightly up on the I.Q. standard from Bird Moron to Developmentally Slow, liked to mimic the doctors and spoke in acronyms to make themselves feel important. In the trailer, while trying to force down my lunch, I had to stomach the yammering, sewing circle gossip, what’s going on in TV land banter. The grating, loud, goose honking squawks blasting out of their food full mouths would bounce off the trailer’s aluminum walls made for inwardly sadistic entertainment at times when relationships and dating details of the whose fucking who ho-down of the workforce politic came to pass.
I couldn’t imagine who was performing coitus with any of these idiotic troll like monsters. In my alcoholic salad days, when I was pounding at least two fifths of whiskey a day, I used to test the limits of the bi-pedal dating game. In the most mind numbing bouts of bourbon induced blackout, I have never ever endeavored into the carnal operation of cross-breeding with anything that looked close to the women who worked in that department. And, I’m not that picky. Still, they hammed away like a cadre of sorority sisters tallying up the roster of familiarized frat dong.
They seemed to overlook the articles against fraternization. The homies’ on the haz-mat clean up team, and the hunchback in the boiler room seemed to add validity to box springs remembrances. These plain folks never described the action to any satisfying degree. Knowing giggles at the appropriate moment were all you could expect: “Well, we went back to my place and … you know?”
— “He shot a thick wad of snotty jism across your dull-eyed, cow face?” went through my mind, and in retrospect I should have let fly. (Pun intended)
When they would start the lies about what doctor or intern they were seeing on the sly but had to keep it secret was my favorite part of tall-tale theater. The empty pathetic natures of their lives shined through and made my station in life more palatable. Good old schadenfreude. Sometimes, it’s enough to keep you going.
As you can guess, I wasn’t too long for that job in the hospital, which was too bad, because I really liked the work. I got to walk around all day long talking to doctors and nurses, who seem to be the only people en masse with the level of cynicism that I bathe in. I got to deal with all kinds of patients and hear their tragic stories, and some days I got a deep and darkly satisfying eye full of gore, especially in the E.R. on a Friday or Saturday night.
Well, one morning I got another pink-slip-office-sit-down. Rotundo, the head of the pig-dumpling crew, let me go for a whole list of things which were outright lies. But, the most egregious thing I did was use the F-word. Over a bag of Del-Taco bean and egg burritos — a meal fit for a tribe — she began to chastise me. When she got to my use of the F-word, I laughed and said, “You mean ‘Fuck?’”
— “Yes,” she steamed between heavy, egg & bean scented breaths. “We don’t tolerate abusive language here.”
— “I didn’t use it abusively, like calling her a lazy fucking idiot, or an idiotic fuck-head. I used it as a reference to the wheel chair, the fucking wheel chair.”
— “That doesn’t matter. You used the F-word.”
Well, she wasn’t up to an argument on semantics, at least not in this lifetime she won’t be; plus, I was getting fired, so it was time to get a few things off my chest. I then began a small diatribe in which I used the F-word in just about every part of the language that it’s applied, basically all of them. It’s a drive-by nation where good people are killed randomly, so what the FUCK is a word anymore?
She signed my check and thrust it out my way, mumbling something about telling the agency what a crude man I was. I laughed and told her that while she was at it, she could tell them what a bunch of lazy, incompetent fucks they were. I gathered my stuff and walked out the door as security was arriving. I let them pass by me as they rushed into the trailer like a hostage rescue team. I strolled out to the parking lot in the glorious smoggy sunshine, a free man once again, six whole weeks of work and little nest-egg for drinking and job hunting.
Believe it or not, I was offered another job through the agency within a few days. It was pushing a broom behind a couple of good ol’ boys on forklifts as they tried not to lance these huge 2500lb bags of ultra fine powder used in petroleum production and failed miserably. Somehow, $5.50 an hour for some ghastly respiratory illness years down the line didn’t seem like a very good deal. I told my friend’s STD sperm target that I’d find employment elsewhere.
After a quick foray into sub-teaching and several close brushes with the statutory rape laws, I’m driving a flatbed around Oregon wired up on zip, coffee, tobacco, conspiracy theories and flat out wage slave rage. And, it’s beautiful.
(Note: This Rivercide centric story was originally printed in the national ‘zine Temp Slave, issue 12. I received a contributor’s copy and whole twenty-five dollars. I was out of town helping to deforest the great Northwest when they knocked down the Rivercide General Hospital. If I would have been in town, I would have shed tears of joy to see that place leveled. I’m still here, and it’s gone. I win.)