Friday, December 12, 2008

Reloj's Career Path

Reloj is just finishing up his doctorate in Childhood Education, specializing in Gifted Children. It is the summer before he's out of school, and he's looking around for a job. He tells me, they have one in a certain tourist mecca we know. I think he's kidding. No, no, he says, it's taking handbills around and placing them under windshield wipers.

I say, well, you know Einstein worked in a Swiss patent office while he was writing three papers some noticed in time. And didn't Hawthorne work in the customs agency, Salem or somewhere? And every day of his writing life, Trollope sallied forth from his writing desk to his job at the postal service. He invented streetcorner mailboxes, you know.

So, maybe I'll take the job, says Reloj, and he does. And now, all he talks about is his adventures placing ads on windshields. He doesn't like Elitists, he tells me, those who have windblown wipers so you cannot place the posters under the blades. 

I saw, what do you sell? And he says, oh, this, that, and the other, something different every day. I say, well, how do the business do? He says, the same as always. The same number of tourists come here and buy the same amount of goods in season year in and year out. I say, then why do they advertise? And Reloj say, well, you know, that's what they do.

I say, boy, I'll bet you can't wait to begin lifting those little geniuses to their appointed higher station. He says, yeah, well they ain't geniuses who simply turn on their wipers to dump the handbills on the road. The nerve of some people. Litterbugs. I bet they use that casuistry, situational ethics, to plea how they didn't place the paper under their own private wipers so they aren't responsible for the mess after. Some people.

I say, boy, you worked long and hard for the kids, and now the benefits to them will arrive, starting next year! And he say, huh?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Old New Age

First I was suspicious and then I was confirmed in doubts when I saw my wallet skitter away in the shadows at my feet. I knew it.

We were in a bus like no other, maybe how such would be conceived were you to begin back in the forties with a rural scene and project forward from there, like the serials of the epoch used to; old Fords pulling up to a spaceship lying on its belly like a bathtub toy.

The lady was rotund and dressed in many confusing layers of various designs of myriad substance. She was very stoic, saying nothing as I stood over her with my indignant accusations. See here, you took my wallet, I said loudly. Alert the driver.

I sought to take charge of her in a citizen's arrest, but she wasn't going anywhere inside the enclosed conveyance and neither was anyone else. So I stood and looked offended and she sat and ignored us all just as she had from the beginning of the ride. She was stringing beads for a necklace, it looked like. 

In the middle of the scene, a little thought came creeping. I felt again for my wallet, left rear pocket of my jeans, and confirmed it still wasn't there. But then I remembered. Since I was pickpocketed before (in wake time, in Paris) I always carried my wallet in the left front pocket. Oh, dear.

Yep, here it is. I apologize profusely, but the victim of my suspicion pays no more attention to my abject wailing now than she did my fierce charges before. I determine to set it all to right. I go to other passengers to explain I've made a terrible mistake, but they all seem intent on escaping the bus and most especially me at the earliest.

My job is through the night. I work in what seems to be a parking garage, dark, with many foreign objects all about. I am now figuring how to carry old newsprint across to the recycle way at yon end. Some of it, I become aware, seems to be missing. I must recover the lost pages of what is an ancient slab of muck after all. I don't ask any questions.

Rats skitter here and there, but I have learned to think of them as mice. We all separately without consulting have done that. It's called on-the-job training. 

The straw boss says to me, "We need you to demonstrate a product tomorrow. You'll come in an hour  early."

He seems very sure. I don't know from where he derives his confidence. In fact, I have that question about everybody I meet lately. I haven't even decided if I'm going to show up at my regular four PM hour tomorrow, or ever again. 

But I don't think of that now. I have to move this mess of ancient, useless papyrus to the far bin. Then I'll leave and see whatever else is in store.