Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"Did You Read That Book By Barbara Ehrenreich?"

"No... But I think I'm living it right now."

Oh man.

I am bone tired.

So today, I got up early, showered, shaved, dressed in my Carhartt's, and headed down to Labor Force in Willow Grove to begin my adventure as a Day Laborer. First off, I had to fill out an application. This consisted of proving to their satisfaction that I was eligible to work and accomplished by presenting my identification. They were amused at the dissimilarity between my ten year old passport photo and the person they saw in front of them.

Then, there was an intriguing Screening Questionnaire that asked three questions--Do you use illegal drugs? Are you prone to get in fights? Are you a thief?--in different ways seventy-three times. Some of the iterations were amusing, such as, "A hit of Crystal Meth helps me to get through my day: True or False?" I tried to imagine how many applicants answered "True" to "In a convenience store, if I don't have enough money for something I want, I'll just take it without paying for it." The only one that gave me pause was, "True or False: It can be fun watching two guys go at it in a fight." Does Forced Labor have something against Ultimate Fighting? If the question had read, "Watching two guys go at it in a fight can be pretty damn hot," I probably would have answered "True," but I decided to listen to my better angels on that one and checked "False."

After I passed the Screening Questionnaire with flying colors (Yay me!), the woman who scored me, who was chirpy in a way that I associate with women from Northeast Philadelphia (if you don't know what I mean, by no means travel to Northeast Philadelphia to find out) asked me, "Do you want to work today?"

I swallowed hard and answered that I did indeed.

They had a job available starting at 1 p.m.

This gave me time to run down the street to KFC to grab something to eat. It's been years--maybe twenty?--since I last dined at a KFC. Although I have to admit, there was a time when I was there alot. Back when they were known as Kentucky Fried Chicken. Y'see, they used to have an item on their menu called Mean Greens. I was wild about Mean Greens. I used to pull up to the drive thru at the Kentucky Friend Chicken in Doylestown (now a Starbucks) and order Mean Greens and a biscuit. Mean Greens are long gone from the menu, but they do have Cheese Curds, a delicacy of Wisconsin. I didn't order them. They looked pretty awful. But then again, I'm not from Wisconsin.

After lunch, I headed back to Forced Labor Labor Force. The three people who worked behind the counter were rapt with attention following an episode of "Little House On The Prairie." I shit you not. I met my co-worker-for-the-day, an African American man who bore an uncanny resemblance to Dave Chapelle. So uncanny that I think it must be intentional. He was a nice guy, and proved a good guy to work with.

Our assignment was to help a woman who was getting her house ready to go on the market. She had the bad luck to have the name of "Candy." I nicknamed her "Confectionary," although I told this neither to her nor to my co-worker-for-the-day.

As soon as I met Confectionary, I sensed that she was a kindred spirit. She was about my age, single, living alone, and something told me that she, like me, had recently made the troubling discovery that once you pass forty, this whole employment thing suddenly becomes much much much much more difficult.

Confectionary was a Stager. When someone is selling their house, they hire Confectionary to gussy the place up to get a better price for it. And now, Confectionary was staging her own home. I guessed that she was doing this because she needed the money.

Staging Chez Confectionary involved getting as much stuff as possible out of there to make it look larger and cleaning up the yard. We started off inside, moving furniture out to a U-Haul and down to the basement. The first thing we tackled was a sofa-bed. I used all of the Safe Lifting Protocols I learned while I was at Wuperior Soodcraft, but sure enough, I felt that little squish in my back indicating that I had pulled the first of many muscles that day.

After much lugging of furniture, we headed out to the yard. Crabgrass was everywhere. Our mission was to get rid of it. I was watching the clock. One hour, two hours, three hours... I dove into the yardwork, taking it very seriously. In addition to weeding, I also dead-headed her shrubbery and raked up the lawn. Confectionary was so impressed that she asked me to prune her rose bushes, something that should have been done last Autumn but wasn't. With trepidation--I'm no rosarian, but she seemed to be--I cut about two-thirds of their height off, leveling the rose bushes about at my knees.

We finished up at 5 p.m. Confectionary filled out our job sheet and we headed back to Forced Labor Labor Force.

Back at HQ, one of the folks behind the counter, one of the Little House fans (not the chirpy woman or the vaguely creepy older man but a young Latina) was talking to a group of workers coming back from another job.

"Oh yes," she explained, "You gotta Treat Yourself and not Cheat Yourself. Even though you might be broke the next day, go have some fun. Get yourself something nice. I have no time for people who are all miserly with their money. Treat Yourself, Don't Cheat Yourself."

The Forced Labor Labor Force guys seemed to agree with her.

When I got my pay, $25 for four hours of hard work that left my muscles sore and my hands adorned with countless little cuts from the roses, I wondered just what fun I could have. That $25 increased my net worth by 125%.

Everything is relative.

I decided that in this case, it would be Fun to get some gas, buy a pack of Camels so I'd have something to smoke tomorrow, and head to Starbucks in Doylestown.

As I was driving home, I got a great idea.

Months ago, the Baron was pressing me on what the hell I would do if I didn't find a job before my Unemployment ran out. (Which seemed unlikely to me at the time.) I jokingly suggested that maybe I'd get a job at Starbucks. The Baron didn't take it as a joke. And now that my Unemployment has run out and I haven't found a job, every so often he'll casually suggest that I fill out an application at Starbucks.

I'm cool to the idea. For one thing, it would be a little humiliating to be on that side of the counter at my local Starbucks. For another thing, I have a horror of getting burned, gained during the years I spent cooking in restaurants. I hate to get burned, and dealing with blasts of steam all day long must make getting burned a fairly common occurence.

But still, it would be a steady paycheck, the hours would allow me to pursue other jobs during the day, and I'd have healthcare even if I was a part time employee.

But driving home, I hit upon an alternative to working at Starbucks: I could get a job at Home Depot.

That would be blue-collary, and I have relevant experience having been an apprentice cabinet maker for three years. They like to hire industry people.


Home Depot.

Our local Home Depot was coming up. I'd be going right by it. I decided to stop in and fill out an application.

Pulling into the parking lot, I hit upon another reason why getting a get-by job at Home Depot would work out pretty well.

There he was. He had just parked his Harley. This big, bald, deeply tanned man with a bushy blond moustache. He took off his helmut and leisurely walked towards the entrance. He paused outside, leaning up against the wall. As I approached (I think I was going about 50 m.p.h. when I pulled into the parking space next to Mr. Harley Davidson Rider), I saw that he was finishing up a cigar.

Working at Home Depot would provide an all but endless stream of Eye Candy. It would be like being an extra in a porn movie five days a week. It would provide me with jerk-off fodder to last a lifetime.

When I got to the entrance to the Home Depot, Mr. Harley Davidson Rider was still standing there, sipping his cigar. His eyes met mine and he gave me a smile.

A come hither smile.

I swear.

Okay. Maybe he was just being friendly.

Inside, my fantasies were confirmed. If the Bike Stop had such a good looking crowd on any of my visits there, I'd be heading down there every night of the week.

At the Customer Service desk, they suggested that I go to the Home Depot web site and fill out an application from there. It was set up so I could apply at all of the local stores through that one site, and my application would automatically go to the directors of human resources for all of those stores.

So at home, after I made dinner for my father and cleaned up the kitchen, that's just what I did.

But tomorrow, it's back down to Forced Labor Labor Force.

1 comment:

MadameK said...

Just stumbled across your blog....and now I'm hooked.

lol@ Home-Depot jerk-off fodder.