There was no doubt about it. The signs were blatantly obvious: glazed eyes, dry mouth, ears tingling, restless legs and my stomach growling like a rumbling volcano. I needed a break.
“A job is a job,” I kept reminding myself while I paced around the dismal office cubicle, “times are tough. I’ve got to take what I can get. There could be worse positions.”
As if sensing my discontent, my cell phone blared out the “Rocky” theme song, the tune reserved for calls from the employment agency.
“Yes, this is Jake . . . You’ve got to be kidding—a WHAT? . . . I know I said I was desperate, but I’m not sure I’m cut out for dung disposal. Don’t you have any other leads? . . . I guess I could wash windows. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to spray and wipe, right?” envisioning my cramped office space replaced with the great out-of-doors.
I could already imagine birds chirping, the sun shining (you couldn’t wash windows in the rain, right?) and a breeze wafting over my tanning bare arms.
“Huh? A SKYSCRAPER window-washer? Uh, I guess not,” recalling my humiliating attempt to climb up to change a ceiling light bulb.
I ended the conversation abruptly and glumly returned to my stale lunch, my reprieve to an outdoor job dissipating like a deflating balloon.
I had held over a dozen different jobs over the years. I loved expanding my horizons by taking on unique positions in the job market, grasping for new experiences like a dying, thirsty man trying to find an oasis in a desert. Not all of them, my present one included, were enjoyable—that stint as a sewer inspector about did me in—but all were challenging in their own way, and all of them opened my eyes to appreciate workers from all facets of life.
From a lowly fast-food cook to an occupational therapist assistant, I had run the gambit from one end of the spectrum to the other. Animal trainer advancing to circus manager, retail sales clerk to department store division manager, construction worker to landscaping artiste, the mundane and menial to the exotic and skilled. As with anything worthy, all had their pros and cons.
Presently, though, I was struggling. Never, in any of my illustrious careers had I experienced such inner conflict about what I was doing. How could I keep torturing victims, when I had been one myself? How could I justify what I did for a paycheck when I resented having contact with those who also did?
My phone directory database was shrinking from caller ID showing or other screening stops that had been implemented. One thing was certain. This job was teaching me how NOT to react when confronted by another such as myself. People could be SO RUDE when their personal space was invaded!
“Do you know what time it is, for goodness sakes?! Get a life!”
“I said, ‘NO!’ What is it about that you don’t understand?”
“Do yourself a favor and hang up before I slam my receiver in your ear.”
“Go to _____!”
“I’m on the ‘Do-Not-Call’ list. How’d you get this number?”
“Aw, go jump in the lake and take your ———— with you!”
“I gave at the office—can’t you keep better records?”
“Yeah, you have a nice day, too, you jerk!”
My work day is half over and I am already exhausted. My cell phone blares the familiar theme song again and I grasp it quickly, a drowning man catching a life preserver.
“Jake speaking. What do you have now? . . . TWO choices? . . . A head lice technician or a slaughterhouse dive . . .?”
I hesitate long enough to hear my latest victim (on my landline speaker phone) who is on a roll with her tirade:
“ . . . You telemarketers call during my dinner, you offer me services I don’t want or need, you won’t stop talking long enough for me to get a word in edgewise, you have no courtesy, I can’t understand half of you who have foreign accents, I’m tired of the interruptions to my busy schedules . . .”
“I’ll take either one—you pick! I’ll be down to sign up ASAP!”
I turn off the speaker phone and tilt back in my chair with arms crossed behind my head and doze off, dreaming a herd of cattle was being attacked by lice as big as sparrows.
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