Re-Enforced Cynicism

December 5, 2010 at 4:28 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Last week, I took my 5 year-old granddaughter to McDonald’s so she could play on the indoor playground. While she romped, I became so bored that I read the Happy Meal box. To allay my guilt at supplying the yellow-arched juggernaut with more money the box proudly proclaimed, “Now with every Happy Meal or Mighty Kids Meal purchase, a donation is made to Ronald McDonald House Charities.

My sensitivity to corporate weasel-speak immediately set-off my bullshit detector. “…a portion…” eh? How large a portion of the $3.09 I paid for the Happy Meal is McDonald’s going to donate? I suspect most sheeple would give the matter little thought & expect perhaps 50 cents, a dollar, maybe 2 dollars to be channeled to such a worthy cause. But if that were the case, then the box would proudly state the generous specific amount.

“Probably a penny.” I said to myself with a smirk.

Within a split-second I berated myself for my cynicism. I reminded myself to give McDonald’s the benefit of the doubt. No wonder my wife, Myrtle, teases me about being such a pessimist. I felt shamed.

And then my eye fell upon the tiny footnote at the bottom of the box: “McDonald’s donates a penny per Happy Meal or Mighty Kids Meal sold.”

So McDonald’s trumpets its benevolence & then gives the smallest coinage possible. Once again I am reminded that I was not born a cynic but became one through long years of experience.
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I saw in today’s headlines that official unemployment has “leaped” to 9.8%. That is a laughable statistic in light that actual joblessness in America is easily double that figure. And two years into the economic depression, the only reliable solution our pathetic so-called leaders have devised is to let unemployment benefits lapse for the long-term jobless as they’ve been letting happen since summer. The jobless who are no longer eligible for unemployment payments are no longer counted as “unemployed.” Viola! “Unemployment” problem solved.
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About once a year I re-read Kurt Vonnegut’s brilliant 1990 novel, Hocus Pocus, a prescient satire about America in 2001 when the nation has been thoroughly raped by its Capitalist owners & sold-off to other countries. Here is a brief excerpt taken from where the college-professor protagonist recollects a speech given by the college’s Writer in Residence. A speech that causes consternation among the college’s Board of Trustees:

He predicted, I remember, that human slavery would come back, that it had in fact never gone away. He said that so many people wanted to come here because it was so easy to rob the poor people, who got absolutely no protection from the Government. He talked about bridges falling down and water mains breaking because of no maintenance. He talked about oil spills and radioactive waste and poisoned aquifers and looted banks and liquidated corporations. “And nobody ever gets punished for anything,” he said. “Being an American means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Could have been written in 2010, huh?
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Somewhere along the line I read that President Ohwhatabummer plans to let the Bush tax breaks for the rich keep on rolling for another few years. That is, long enough that he will have been voted out and then the new Republican president can finally make the tax breaks permanent. Also, I see B.O.’s Deficit Commission is getting bolder about letting us peons know just how much they are going to hammer us. Gotta pay for the billionaires’ tax breaks so wave goodbye to Social Security!

And you can be sure that in 2012 a whole bunch of liberals will still delude themselves into believing that Obama is worth their vote.
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I am curious. Just when did you finally realize that our system simply exists to work-over every non-wealthy sentient being in the Milky Way? For me it was last summer when all that oil kept gushing into the Gulf of Mexico & millions of ex-workers were losing the lifeline of their unemployment benefits & the multiple wars were grinding on and the attitude of our government toward those crises was one of… peaceful detachment.

The U.S. has now reached the level of the old Soviet Union. Our economic, government, & social systems are completely wrecked & getting worse by the day & instead of fixing the mess the elites in charge spend their time grabbing all they can. And the common people have divided into 2 camps: a small percentage who still believe the lies or at least hope those around them still do & hope to grab some swag for themselves & the majority who know it is hopeless & we are going off a cliff.

If you are one of the shrinking minority who thinks our democracy will repair itself, I urge you to take a look at what is happening surrounding the revelations of government & corporate lies exposed by Wikileaks. There is a clear-cut case of “shoot the messenger.” It is enough to make baby Jesus cry.

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Headlock on the Body Politic

November 4, 2010 at 4:27 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

As I expected, the mainstream media is busily pushing absolutely wrong conclusions from Tuesday’s election massacre.

Coming from their topsy turvy universe in which economic depression is recovery & right-wing views are centrist, the corporate news analysts churn-out coverage such as this, which sagely blames voter disgust with Obama & Company upon his forcing rapid change upon America. Change that “was was too much, too soon.” Having apparently just returned from a two-year voyage into outer space, where she has been completely out of communication with Earth, this particular bloviator assures us that the American people wanted to send an “overriding message” to President Obama to “slow down.”

Slow down? Too much change too soon? I don’t know whether to laugh or throw-up! B.O. & the Democrats lost overwhelmingly because they promised us big, constructive, genuine change and for two years they have done nothing of benefit for ordinary citizens. As soon as they got control of Congress & the White House the Democrats promptly spun their supporters around & gave them a series of swift kicks in the ass. So when the next election came around their erstwhile boosters found better things to do than go to the polls. The next two years of increasing Democratic cravenness & further enabling of the Republican agenda will simply erode liberal support in 2012.

Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, & Harry Reid have likely done a reverse FDR. After 3 years of the Great

Depression caused people to turn to Democrats to save them in 1932, FDR’s courage, vision, & actions assured that Republicans were shut-out of the presidency for 20 years. Thanks to B.O. & his gang no Democrat is likely to be president for another 20 years.

When I voted on Tuesday morning here in Ohio, I cast my ballot for the Green Party candidate for governor & the Socialist Party candidate for senator. Those candidates garnered only 1 or 2% of the votes. It amazes me that even in the midst of the obvious theft & widespread ruination our nation is undergoing at the hands of the fat-cat criminals, an overwhelming majority of voters are still stuck voting for only Democrats or Republicans.

What will it take to break the Democrat-Republican headlock on the body politic?

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Beyond Partisanship

November 2, 2010 at 4:42 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

These past two years have certainly helped my personal growth.

The sell-out of Obama & most Democrat office-holders has schooled me in the total hypocrisy & destructiveness of politics based upon “party above all.”

Policies that should & would evoke unrelenting condemnation from all liberals if perpetrated by W.Bush are tolerated from B. Obama. Democrats plead for patience in the face of neglect of the jobless, growing poverty, continued war, environmental catastrophe, etc. Would they be so patient if President McCain’s track record were so dismal?

On the other side of the aisle, Republicans despise Obama & label him a Socialist, Nazi, anti-Christ, etc. But oddly enough he has done nothing that, under George Bush (or President McCain), would not have been tolerated if not happily welcomed.

As for me, I plan to follow my conscience & good sense without regard of political party. I will support & vote for only those candidates whom I can count upon to protect my interests. All Republicans certainly have failed that test & so have most all Democrats. Therefore, to Hell with both parties.

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Sisyphus Shrugs

November 2, 2010 at 3:59 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

During these past two years, overheatedly indignant Libertarian/Republican wackos (indignant, of course, about the election of black Communist Barack Obama to the presidency) have harkened-back to their college-days’ admiration of flaky author Ayn Rand’s work. Indulging their inner-brat, they fantasize the “truly productive” members of society (that is, the criminal-Capitalists) enacting the scenario from Rand’s homage to greed, “Atlas Shrugged” : The virtuous & brilliant owners of big-business, tired of bearing the weight of the world (like Atlas, get it?) while being unappreciated by the masses, reach the end of their patience & go on strike (shrug, get it?), withdrawing from society & causing the total collapse of the financial & industrial world.

Sales of Rand’s screed have been climbing since the 2008 economic collapse. Apparently, Social-Darwinist dunderheads find solace in its message that ordinary people are robbing the rich of deserved compensation for providing the rest of us with their leadership. All those pesky rules & regulations are dragging-down the supermen & we best be careful or the mighty just may go off someplace & sulk, leaving we lesser-humans to ruin civilization much like “Planet of the Apes.”

What is most laughable about this threat is the threatener’s absolute lack of awareness that the heads of big-business & finance are exactly the ones who repeatedly rape the environment, crash the economy, and continually feed-off the masses while providing very little (if anything) of real value to society. Time after time it is the peons who must pick-up the pieces & clean-up the mess caused by the crony-Capitalists.


If anyone should “shrug” (strike) it should be the masses who toil day after day, year after year, trying to get ahead in a system that swindles them at every turn. After a lifetime of work, most people cannot rely upon having sufficient income, retirement, & health care in a culture that strives mightily every day to knock them back to square one. America’s workers are like Sisyphus, whom the gods punished to toil exhaustingly each day pushing a huge boulder up a mountainside and when reaching the top watched helplessly as the boulder rolled down to its starting point.

All those vultures who style themselves as put-upon Atlases wouldn’t last two weeks without the people who do the real grunt work of this world.

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The Jobless Recovery

September 26, 2010 at 1:47 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

I went to a job fair on Thursday in a local hotel ballroom. It was scheduled to begin at 10 am and so I arrived 20 minutes early. By then there was a group of a couple hundred people waiting at the locked doors. When the doors opened, I was swept in with the tide of job-seekers.

The fair consisted of 15 “exhibitors” of which 5 were colleges & training schools looking to recruit students. Most of the remaining exhibitors were for companies that do things like paste advertising billboards onto automobiles.

I had attended so as to apply at a local retailer that was seeking management candidates. When I entered the fair I made a beeline for their booth, where I was 2nd in line to receive a job description & application package. By the time I filled-out the paperwork 10 minutes later, I found that I was well over 100th in line to hand it in.
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For this past week, a local grocery had a flier posted in its window saying cashier applications would be taken this morning. I arrived a half hour before time and was, therefore, 4th in line. Since I shop at the store regularly, the cashier on duty recognized me on my way out & I stopped to talk. She said she must have given-out 1000 applications during the week.

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Corporations & Government Exist for Us!

September 20, 2010 at 5:53 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Surely you noticed how much better the economy has gotten in the last 15 months.

Happy days are here again! Break out the bubbly!


You haven’t?

Well, neither have I. But the National Bureau of Economic Research, the august body charged with officially declaring when recessions start & stop, has officially declared that our latest recession ended in June 2009. An expansion started in July 2009.

Yes, I know, like you my first inclination was to almost fall out of my chair laughing. But in its report the NBER reminds us that they “…did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity. Rather…the recession ended and a recovery began in that month.” Then they caution that business activity sometimes lags well into an economic expansion.

Sure, I think we all understand that the economy doesn’t instantly return to normal after a downturn. But 15 MONTHS should be more than enough time for the ground to stop falling out from under the feet of the bottom 90% of the country! And out here in the real world, that is the world outside D.C. & NYC, the ground is continuing to fall. Businesses are still closing, houses are still foreclosing, & jobs are still evaporating. And yet the NBER declares we are in a 15 month economic expansion & the politicians will happily grab onto that declaration as an excuse to keep ignoring the disaster they have brought upon the nation. After all, why help the jobless & poor when the rising tide is again lifting all boats?

Well, I think it is obvious that if the measurements show this is an economic expansion then THERE IS SOMETHING VERY WRONG WITH THE MEASUREMENTS! I do not pretend to know how the books are being cooked, do you? I suspect that all those bailouts to banksters & Wall Street con-artists & increased profits for offshoring our jobs is now being falsely measured as rising GDP (Gross Domestic Product). When a large portion, perhaps a majority, of a nation’s citizens can be on the financial ropes but the statistics show things getting better & the experts believe it, then the wrong things are being measured & the experts are fools.

One last thing. I keep hearing the “leaders” & “experts” telling us that we are in a long-term “jobless recovery.” They better keep in mind that for 300 or so million Americans it doesn’t matter how great corporate profits are or how high the Dow average or even how much the GDP grows. If all those things don’t translate into prosperity & a good quality of life for the citizens, then to Hell with the corporations, the government, & the few people who are doing great for themselves. That is why the corporations & government exist in the first place… to bring a good life to our communities!

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The Tinkerbell Economy

August 25, 2010 at 3:08 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

This morning as I was driving a friend to work, I caught the top of the hour National Public Radio news. The lead story told that sales of existing houses dropped to their lowest level in 15 years & had the steepest one month drop in 40 years.

This bummer news report immediately assured listeners that within a few months the dark clouds hanging over the housing market would disappear. Source of this assurance: a housing industry expert whose sound-bite was then excerpted. Said expert confidently dismissed all the negative economic trends. Then he said something very much like that if Americans will just believe in an improving housing market, then things will get better. He concluded by stating that he hoped Americans would start believing.

So this blockhead’s assertion of an imminent improvement was really based upon wishful thinking. Not facts. Not logic. Not trend-lines. Just hoping it will happen. My reaction was to talk mockingly back to the radio: “Yes, everyone, clap your hands real loud and Tinkerbell won’t die!”

Blinded, stubborn ignorance just keeps spewing from our so-called experts. Each week, month, & now year brings news of the economy’s continued downward spiral. And first the experts profess complete bewilderment because they expected more encouraging numbers, then they reassure us that everything is getting better, future numbers will show improvement.

Until this morning, I thought the experts told the public a bunch of lies because they were trying to fool us. But now I wonder: Are they actually so daft that they really believe their utterly misguided projections? Perhaps as children they watched the Peter Pan cartoon & still think they brought Tinkerbell back to life by wishing hard-enough & clapping their hands; now as adults they think they can fix the economy the same way? Yikes!

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A Rude Question

August 4, 2010 at 2:07 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

As I go through the supermarket checkout or get online I see the headlines & skim over the fawning stories about Chelsea Clinton’s wedding spectacle: The gorgeous cake, the custom dress, the sumptuous floral arrangements. Is there really someone outside the circles of Washington D.C./New York/Hollywood aristocracy who cares about the details of such twaddle?

Not that I have anything against Chelsea Clinton; to me she is nothing either good or bad. However, there is one detail that catches my attention: The wedding will cost Ma & Pa Clinton $3,000,000 ! And the whole shebang will cost we taxpayers another $2,000,000 for all the Secret Service protection, etc! A total of $5,000,000 !!!

Zounds! When my ex-wife & I married back in 1982 we were hitched on a Saturday afternoon by the local Justice of the Peace for $20. Then we had a small reception at a local family restaurant. We couldn’t even afford a honeymoon & had to go back to work on Monday.

Paul Craig Roberts over at the Information Clearing House site asks a question some might see as being rude as a fart in an elevator, but it is a pertinent question nonetheless: Just where do those our nation once quaintly to as “public servants” get all that money? Their salaries aren’t near high-enough to accumulate that kind of dough, even if they saved religiously stashed every available penny into their piggybanks. Nope, it appears the money comes from appreciative rich people who feel these pols are very good & faithful servants while in office & afterward.

And while Chelsea’s guests are scarfing-up $11,000 wedding cake, Theresa DePugh struggles to feed as many as 3,000 poor citizens each month at the Athens, Ohio food pantry she runs. She had those she feeds write their stories on the back of paper plates which she then mailed to the White House. Now here is an American patriot & hero.

I believe that we Americans are furious about our ruling-class and livid at being coerced into paying taxes or being bilked by corporations to support such blatant decadence. Most citizens are absolutely fed-up but still have a glimmer of hope that somehow the corrupt pols & their corporate owners will come to their senses & fix the mess.

Unfortunately, there is no historical precedent for such hope. Throughout human experience governments have gone amok and I know of no example where the problems have been corrected without collapse and/ or rebellion by the populace. Right now in the USA the elite has lined its pockets with bail-outs, graft, & chicanery of all types while abandoning the bottom 90% of the country to ever-increasing poverty. Once enough citizens lose hope of fairness from the system there will be a revolution & it won’t be pretty.

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Spine

July 20, 2010 at 9:50 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

By Reverend Hothoneywater, Special Correspondent

The Bible many “Christians” spend time thumping but little time reading says:

“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” (Proverbs 21:13)
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Congressman Alan Grayson, of Florida’s 8th District (location of  DisneyWorld), has told it like it is about Republicans & their attitude toward the jobless victims of economic depression. It is the sort of thing President Obama & every Democrat should be saying in public every day, on every news program, in every newspaper, and all over the internet. It is the sort of think every church, synagogue, & mosque in the nation should be reminding their congregations every week. Watch the video here.

Now Mr. Grayson is no pauper himself. He is a millionaire. But he has not forgotten his upbringing as a poor boy in Bronx, New York. And he nails it when he paints his Republican colleagues as unable to relate to those without jobs facing financial hardship:

“They’re thinking why don’t they just sell some stock . If they’re in really dire straits, maybe they could take some of their art collection and send it off to the auctioneer. And if they’re in deep, deep trouble maybe these unemployed can sell one of their yachts.”

This is a speech that Franklin Roosevelt would have been proud to give.

This is by no means the first time Representative Grayson has blasted the reactionary right-wing. This photo from the so-called “healthcare debate” illustrates Grayson’s bravado. 

I got on Rep. Grayson’s website to email him my thanks. Its says due to the volume of email he gets, he only accepts mail from his Florida constituents. So I phoned his Wash DC office & spoke to a very courteous & happily surprised receptionist.
I encourage you to call with your support for this brave man. Phone 202-225-2176.
If you can, send him a contribution; he’s running for reelection & we need his kind in Congress.

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Aristocrats on Unemployment

June 13, 2010 at 5:04 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )


My valet, Higgins, silently entered my stateroom earlier than usual. It was the crack of noon. He leaned over my custom double-king-size bed and gently nudged my shoulder to awaken me. “Sir,” he implored in the sort of hushed-tone one would use to awaken an infant, “you must dress and go into town for your appointment at the unemployment office.”

My groggy voice returned to him, muffled by the eider-down pillow covered with satin pillowcase in which my face was half-buried. “Go ‘way, Higgins, come back and rouse me in half an hour.” I reached my hand out from under the Siberian goose-down comforter to wave him off impatiently.

“A thousand pardons, sir,” Higgins replied consolingly, “but yesterday evening, when you gave instructions to awaken you at noon today, you impressed upon me the importance of your being prompt for this appointment.” He straightened-up and gathered my champagne glass and bottle from the night table. Then his voice took on a note of imperiousness, “I have taken the liberty of drawing your bath and laying-out your special unemployment office ensemble.”

I yawned, stretched, then threw-off the luxurious bed-coverings and sat up. “No, Higgins, I think it best that I do not bathe this morning.”

Hearing this, Higgins, who was walking for the door, halted in his tracks. He half-turned so that I could see his profile but still I could see that the blood had drained from his face. He was barely able to disguise his dismay. “Am I to understand then, sir, that you shall go to your appointment…” he searched for the word, “unwashed?!”

“A man must do what a man must do!” I replied emphatically. “When in Rome…and all that sort of thing.” I added.

“I see.” He replied slowly and with noticeable resignation he added, “Very well, sir.” He then hurried out, closing the door silently behind him.

Minus my usual morning routine of brushing teeth, combing hair, and shaving, it took me almost no time in the lavatory. I quickly donned a dirty t-shirt, baggy faded jeans, and a pair of well-worn flip-flop shoes. In the midst of dressing, I felt a longing for my usual attire of Armani or perhaps Hugo Boss and a comfy, comfy pair of hand-made Bertolis to clad my feet. But, I reminded myself, I must be strong for I was not going to the country club this afternoon. I was instead visiting the unemployment office, or as it was now called “the job center,” to file my request for extended unemployment benefits. And once that was done I would rush to shower, change clothes, and the missus and I would celebrate with a meal in the finest French restaurant, accompanied by a bottle of Romanee’ Conti.

I made my way on deck to discover that my chef, Marcus, had outdone himself with a feast fit for a king: a steaming pot of Hawaiian Kona coffee, truffles and cheese omelette, fresh croissants, buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, and Scottish Oats porridge with a tot of cream and whiskey. As always, Higgins had laid-out the morning newspaper on the table with the page folded to the latest stock quotations. He doffed a cloth napkin onto my lap and stood-by behind me. “Bless his soul,” Higgins told me as I dug into the exquisite repast, “Marcus heard of your impending pilgrimage and hoped to allay some of the discomfort.”

“Please relay my compliments to him.” I heartily replied. “And please also relay to the Captain that we shall set-sail early tomorrow morning at his discretion.” After thoroughly satisfying my hunger, I sat back to enjoy my third perfect cup of coffee. As my eyes scanned across the other yachts in the marina, I again addressed my servant.” I take it that Mrs. Girdle, as is her habit each time we dock, has gone shopping?”

“Oh, indeed, sir.” said Higgins with a hint of amusement. “She left about nine-thirty this morning.”

“Ah. She will, of course, return to us with arms full of purchases from the most exclusive shoppes.” I chuckled, “But I suppose it’s only money, eh Higgins?”

“In truth, sir.” nodded Higgins.

As I sat breathing-in the pure air and sunshine and listening to the gulls, I began to ruminate upon my great, good-fortune. Whereas only a short year ago I had been just another working stooge, my life had taken a turn for the undeniably better when I had lost my job. Since that time, unemployment benefits have afforded me a life usually reserved only for a relative handful of aristocrats. Once upon a time I struggled to pay my bills and now I live in sumptuous luxury, thanks to the public trough: a villa in Southern Italy, world-travel aboard my yacht (which once belonged to Aristotle Onassis), holidays in the Caribbean, hobnobbing with the jet-set at Cannes and the Riviera. The only fly in the ointment was that, every few months, I had to return to the United States to put in another request for more unemployment. However, it was a small enough price to pay.

“I suppose, Higgins, that if I were still working for a living I would now be having lunch. Probably something like a Big Mac and french fries.” I felt my stomach rebel at the thought.

Higgins answered impassively. “That is likely sir.”

“Well then,” I raised my fine china coffee cup for a toast, “here’s to the great American taxpayers. Long may they remain suckers!”


My trip into the city was uneventful. To assure my arrival in a state of optimum, sweaty dishevelment I ordered Sagamore, my chauffeur, to keep the limousine’s windows down during the drive to the unemployment office. But I emphasized he was have the car properly closed and chilled for my triumphant ride home. He dropped me off two blocks from my destination.

As I walked within sight of the job center, I changed my sunny demeanor to the one of proper hangdog shame. I shuffled through the door to take my place in one of the interminable lines. The greater part of an hour passed before I reached the head of the line. Once there, the receptionist assigned me a number and pointed to the overcrowded waiting area. Once there, I found no available molded plastic chair on which to sit, so I wandered about, being sure to listen for my number to be called.

I walked over to the wall-sized bulletin board on which was posted huge numbers and variety of available jobs of all descriptions. I pretended to look them over carefully but inside smirked that I would never be willing to work again as long as unemployment was available. A young black man dressed in regulation droopy pants, muscle shirt, and backwards ball-cap stood to my side, perusing the listings. We happened to lock eyes for a moment and he gave a broad smile. “Ain’t this a buncha bullshit?” he giggled. “Like I’m gonna take one of these jive-ass jobs and give-up my penthouse apartment and rolls? I never had it so good; wish I woulda lost my job a long time ago!” He laughed and slapped his hand onto my shoulder.

“Shhh!” I cautioned him, “You’ll give it away!”

He quickly sobered. “Oh, yeah, right.” We went back to pretending to look at the jobs. He muttered to me out of the side of his mouth. “I can’t wait to get outta these garbage clothes and back into my Jaegers. But like I told my butler this morning, “A man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.””

“That’s the same thing I told my butler this morning!” We both laughed stealthily. Then the loudspeaker called out “number two-hundred-twenty-four” and he said, “That’s my number! Gotta go. Good talkin’ to ya; take care!” and he hurried away.

I strolled again to the waiting area, where a couple seats had been vacated. I settled uncomfortably onto the cheap plastic chair. Across the way, a thirty-ish caucasian woman in a day-glo pink jogging suit spoke loudly into her cell phone, “…I don’t care how much extra it costs. I’m expecting forty-five guests at this dinner and when I hired you to cater it you assured me there would be no trouble obtaining Almas caviar. Certainly, fly it in by priority shipment if you must! And don’t call me again because I’m in the middle of an important meeting!” and with that she hung up.

Sitting down the row from me, a thin young asian woman whose arms were covered with tattoos said sympathetically, “It’s so hard to find good help these days. You know, I had to fire my maid last week because she showed-up drunk!”

The middle-aged black man beside me spoke up. “You probably did her a favor.” he grinned, “Now she’s on unemployment and got a maid of her own!” We all laughed uproariously. Then, realizing someone in authority might overhear, we fell silent.

Shortly thereafter, my number was called. I ambled into my caseworker’s office with an attitude of dejection. Ms. Breene, the thin, nervous social worker sat behind her desk with my file open in front of her. “Hell, Mr. Girdle.” she said.

“Hello.” I replied.

Before I even had a chance to sit, she asked, “Have you been looking for work?”

I nodded again and said, “Oh, yes” I lied. “Every day.” I almost burst-out laughing.

Ms. Breene made a quick notation in the file. “Alright then. We will give you another four months of unemployment. See you again in four months.” Then she looked up and with a smile and a wink she said, “Say hello to Higgins for me.”

I smiled at her, turned and walked out. As I exited the building, across the plaza I saw the young man whom I had met at the job postings. “Hey, Mr. Two-Twenty-Four!” I shouted happily.

He stopped talking to the pretty, young woman who had his attention. When he saw it was me he grinned and called back, “Going home to cool-off in my swimming pool.”

I nearly danced the two blocks back to my limousine. Sagamore had the interior cooled to perfection. And that was not all he had cooled to perfection. Waiting for me in an ice bucket was a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon. A string tied around the neck of the bottle held a note from my wife that read, “Let’s Not Ever Work Again!”

As my car pulled-away from the curb and I poured a glass of the bubbly, I wiped-away a tear of joy. As my new friend, Mr. Two-Twenty-Four said, “I never had it so good!”

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