Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Do I need a new job?

I was a mess yesterday. I spent the whole night before that tossing and turning, thinking about whether or not I should join those Squirrel Monkeys. Sure, the income on a body shop would be nice and it seems like the work would be pretty easy. It had to be a whole lot better than my last job at the shoe factory. When you go buy shoes, there's always that bit of paper wadded up in the toe. I was the guy who put it there. It was murder on my hands and it was a very unappreciated job. Sure, it was what they called a "vital service", without that paper in them toes, the whole shoe would collapse in shipping and we would all be walking around with bunions and corns and blisters and whatnot. And maybe them blisters would get infected after you waded in a river when you were noodling for catfish because your son wanted fried catfish for dinner. And maybe that infection would, for a reason the CDC can't say, smell like a female deer in heat. And then, maybe, while you were sleeping with your window open because it was hot, a male deer would happen to come by and try to mate with your leg. And then, just maybe, when you woke up screaming because there was an overly amorous deer in your room, the deer would get all worked up and bite you. And then maybe that bite would get infected because the deer had been licking a salt lick that was meant for llamas and had big ol' sores on the inside of his mouth, like deer scurvy, and that stuff that was in the deer's mouth got into your leg and it had to get cut off. It's happened. It happened to my Aunt Rita and now she has no leg and she can't go noodling for catfish anymore and so now me or Frank has to go get her catfish for her. But, you know how Aunt Rita is. She says the catfish has to be noodled, not line caught or (heaven forbid) store bought. If you don't know what noodling is, it's when you walk along a riverbank looking for holes in the dirt, just under the water line. Then, when you find one, you stick your hand in the hole and wiggle your fingers until a catfish tries to bite you. Then, when your hand's in the catfish's mouth, you lift it out of the water and toss it on land. Aunt Rita says that it makes the meat softer, but I've never been able to tell. And I'll be darned if she don't always know when I've line-caught a catfish.

Sorry, looks like I got sidetracked there again. After Aunt Rita lost her leg to the collapsed shoe, I worked real hard at stuffin that paper into the toes of them shoes so it didn't happen to no one else. I worked at that job for 15 years, then I went to buy a pair of shoes one day and saw the store clerk just pull that paper out of the toe and throw it away without thinking about it. I grabbed that paper and saw it was a #8.3 grey paper inside with a #7 white tissue on the outside cleverly joined with a #4 Smith Ducktail. When I tried to point this out to the shoe guy, he called security. I was plannin for that to be my last trip to that mall anyway so it doesn't matter that they asked me to never come back. Well, after that was done, I realized that only the small group of craftsmen who did the work would ever appreciate the trials of a toe stuffer, and most of them were 6 year old Malaysian kids who knew nothing of the real passion. On top of that, I had me the arthritis real bad, so I was put on disability. I haven't had a job for the last 5 years, but the disability checks and my stock options in the shoe company keep me from sufferin too much. But still, it would be nice to have a little extra money coming in, especially for just runnin some errands.

On the other hand, though, I'd be working for a bunch of highly intelligent, genetically engineered, not to mention uppity, flying squirrel monkeys, and who knows what they're up to. Sure, they need a cover for something, but it could be anything. They could be art thieves working for the Chinese or maybe pirates or maybe they're like Superman or something and they're protecting the world or something. All these was running through my head when Rita's son Jeb called. He was in town for a couple days and he wanted to see me. We'd hung out some when we was kids, but he'd gone off for his job and had been traveling pretty steady for 20 years or so. He's got a pretty easy gig, that Jeb. He's technically a PR guy for a band, but that doesn't really cover it. You ever hear of the band Slayer? If you've been in a men's room at a rest area or rock club or pretty much anything else, you've heard of them. You know how in the men's john, there's always the word "Slayer" written on the wall somewhere? Well, Jeb's job is to write that. He says there's about 4 or 5 guys cross country who do it, but they never see each other. The band pays for his RV and his gas and food, plus pays him some hourly. All he has to do is go from town to town writing "Slayer" on the walls of the men's rooms in town. He usually spends two days to a week in a town, depending on the size, then he moves on to the next. He ain't got no schedule or nothin, just his area that he has to cover. Jeb's always been kinda a loner, so it was a great job for him.

Because he travels so much, Jeb has seen a lot of weird stuff so I thought I should ask him what to do about the Squirrel Monkeys. So, we met for a beer yesterday and discussed it. After I told him the whole situation, as far as I knew it, Jeb told me, "Look here, Pat, I seen a lot of stuff in my day, and I've heard me some yarns. If I've learned one thing during all of that, from the fights with bouncers and the 'Here I sit broken hearted' guy, it's this: never trust genetically engineered, computer enhanced animals. You'll always get in over your head."

After that, we didn't talk too much more. He got back on the road that night and I thought long and hard about what he said.

I did want the income, and think of the stories I could tell about being with the Squirrel Monkeys. On the other hand, maybe they were into something dangerous. Really, the only danger I like in my life is an extra shot of tobasco in my bloody mary once in awhile. I'm just not built for it.

The squirrel monkeys came last night and I told them that I appreciated all they did to fix my truck and all, and that their offer sounded nice, but I didn't want to get mixed up in no weirdness right now in my life. They seemed to understand, but didn't really write anything. They just looked at me for a long time and then walked into the forest. When I got up this morning, I found a package on my front door with a card in tiny writing. It said, "Things are in motion. If you change your mind, hang this on the antenna of your truck." I opened the box and found one of them antenna toppers shaped like a banana. I put it on my desk to remind me of those Squirrel Monkeys. I hope I made the right decision. Gotta go, the phone's ringing.

1 comment:

zestypinto said...

I wish I had a dream job like that, doing PR work in people's restrooms.