Circus of the Absurd
How Redneck do you have to be to wear this to Thanksgiving dinner?
I think the house would have wheels on it. Now don't you trailer trash
people go getting your panties up your butt (Oh, you already do. They're
called thongs!). I spent my first 12 formative years in a home on wheels,
so I'm allowed to use the TT words. Now you might notice that this offer
is an exclusive. Don't go buyin' no cheap knockoffs of the Turkey Table
Hat. The inventors at Collections, Etc. might go all crazed crystal meth
addict on your a$.
Actually, this photo was just to snag your interest. We will now return
you to your regular programming, which is of course all about ME!
ME ME ME! ME stuffed into a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed
into a turkey. I call it momturducken. With a side of greenMEEEEn
Funyun casserole, and a MEcan pie for dessert. The beverage would
be Cherry Vanilla Diet Dr. ME. No, I'm not serious. I can't stand
that stuff. It would of course be Cherry Diet ME, or Classic ME.
Guess who's not coming to dinner at my Thanksgiving table? That's
right. All of you!
So getting back to my tales of working for the state unemployment
office....I was out of my element. I am from Redneckland, all white
people all the time. We are all pretty similar. Except for that Nub
guy who pushes himself around in a little red wagon. Dadblastit!
There I go again! That was on Burt Reynolds' TV show, Evening
Shade. I mean Big Larry, the 500 lb. guy who walks all over town
hitching rides in the back of pickup trucks. Imagine if he didn't get
all that exercise walking!
My job in South St. Louis was an eye-opener! They had different
kinds of people working there! There must have been 4 (count 'em,
4!) Black people! (Well, it was South St. Louis, after all, which is
not so very different from Redneckland). There was a Little Person,
and a woman with an oxygen tank, and an albino, and a closeted
gay man (that's what the workers told me, anyway), and some
Catholics, and a Lutheran, and I think even a Jewish person. Plus
two women who wore sensible shoes, but I didn't get any other
vibes from them, so they must have just been Midwesterners with
comfortable feet. Now comes the Circus of the Absurd part. It wasn't
that great diversity that made the work environment strange. It was the
actions of the people.
My cronies in the unemployment claims department were not so
crazy, as I knew the method to their madness. Familiarity breeds
understanding of their coping methods. Alice would do anything to
be in control, so she was our ringmaster. Shirley was the sad clown,
always nervousing (thanks, Cowboy, from Big Brother 5, for that
new word) that she had punched something into the CRT that couldn't
be fixed. Paul was the magician who always fixed it. Cliff the temp was
the Slowest Man On Earth. Eileen the temp was the Oldest Living
B****. Bob, the albino claims supervisor, was the driver of the clown
car, miraculously coming up with workers to move the crowd when it
seemed there were not enough workers scheduled. Larry, the supervisor
of the technicians, was the lion tamer, keeping the tantrums to a minimum.
The Job Service side of the office was certifiably nuts. They didn't
have enough work to do. Nobody came to the unemployment office
to look for work! So they spent the day sitting in each other's cubicles
talking about us. Carol, the oxygen tank lady, was like the bearded
woman. She scared everyone, because they didn't want to turn out
like her. Jane the Little Person wasn't nuts, but people treated her
as if she would break, and tried to do things for her that she would
rather have done herself. Pat the employment service technician
belonged under the Big Top. Word had it that in the downtown
office, she threw a pencil at another worker in a disagreement.
She lived alone and played Nintendo and walked about a mile
home from K-Mart with a blue hard-plastic kiddie pool on her
head for her cats to swim in. Go figure. Diana, the job counselor,
wore two different shoes to work. (No, Mabel, she didn't have
foot surgery. She got dressed in the dark). Shirley pointed this
out to Diana after lunch, and Diana said, "I wish you hadn't told
me. Now I'll be self-conscious the rest of the day." Lois was
divorced, but her ex-husband lived in the upstairs of her house.
Lois had connections, because she used to work with Kathleen
Madigan, the comedian. Gina and Cynthia were the two popular
girls who got their way. They put the sign-in book away at 8:00 am
on the dot, but would get it back out if one of their buddies was
late. They were like corrupt ticket-takers, skimming the till.
I was constantly amazed at what people could get away with.
Joyce, the 60-something claims tech that worked in the cubicle
next to me, seemed on the surface to be a nice little grandmotherly
woman. She wore a wig, but nobody would ask why. Her shoes
matched her purse. Her fingernails matched her pastel sweater/
skirt sets. She was calm, very genteel, and called everybody
"honey." Then one day she finished taking an appeal in person
from a Middle Eastern guy, turned to me, and said, "Typical
Sand N****r." What?!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was speechless. These
people were much more racist than the Rednecks I was used
to. Their excuse was "You haven't been around them like we
have. You don't know what they're like." Which was just hard
to take from people who are supposedly smarter than average,
because you have to get a pretty good score on the merit test
to be interviewed and hired. It's not like I was working with
a bunch of 8th grade dropouts who had never been out of
Speaking of Hooterville, I eventually got a transfer from that
office to one that was two blocks from my house in Redneckland.
I worked there until a big reorganization that made the claims
all automated, done by phone. But it left Job Service people
working, in a job where nobody ever came to see them. Hey,
I could have taken a transfer to the downtown St. Louis office,
or to Springfield, but by then I had my #1 son, and didn't want
to drive or move.
And yeah, I drew unemployment for 26 weeks. Because I could.