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Hawn chobs

The morning started grumpy, with four more security guards than the usual one downstairs usual. Maybe the store got a bomb threat or something, I dunno and barely care. 

Whatever it was, it was a pisser. After getting into the building with my pass/badge/thingie, I had to flash my employee ID to two guards at two doors, and the back room was all sealed off, so I had to take the longer walk through the first floor of the store. 

It was worse for the temps, though. They have badges the same size and shape as mine, with a magnetic strip that gets them into the building, but they’re plain white plastic cards — no printing, no pictures — and the guards were not impressed. The temps had to sit and wait until someone from our office came back downstairs to vouch for them.

With no explanation for the extra security, everyone was a little edgy, but Carlotta promptly perked up my, uh, spirits. She was dressed in a low-cut blouse, not all that low-cut but low enough for a hint of cleavage. Scout’s honor, I barely would’ve noticed it anyone else wore that blouse, but with even less work to do than yesterday, and again nobody near us, our conversation got racy and now and then she bent over, and yeah, I’m pathetic.

Since it had been a high-security morning, she started by recapping the store’s big security catch from a few years ago. Some big-ticket merch had vanished and the company suspected employee theft, so they installed security cameras in the stock room. The first thing the cameras caught was a ménage à trois. A three-way in the frickin' stock room! All three were fired, of course, and everyone heard about it, and by now it's company folklore. 

It before I was working here, though, and I’d always suspected the story was apocryphal, but Lottie said she knew all three participants. She provided enough additional details — names and backstories — that now I’m pretty sure it’s true. And true or false, it’s fun being paid to listen to such filthy details.

Later, she was talking about her high school days. “I used to like girls,” she said. “I was afraid to do things with boys, afraid of getting pregnant or getting an awful reputation, but it was safe to do things with my girlfriends.”

“You did things with other girls, eh? What kind of things?”

“Well, I don’t — I don’t want to say,” she said shyly and slyly. Instead she drew the letter K on a piece of paper.

“K,” I said, “is for kinky?”

“No, silly. K is for kissing.”

"Ahh,” I said, disappointed. “Just K? Nothing else?”

She wrote a P. 

“Heavy P?” I asked, and she smiled, shook her head yes, and I squirmed a little in my seat. Last time I’d played such a silly parlor game with a girl we were in junior high, but I liked it then, and I liked it today.

I wrote “C” on the paper, but she didn’t understand, or pretended not to. Instead she said, “Have you ever…?,” playing bashful by not quite asking the question.

“I’ve K’d, P’d, even C’d. I’ve done the whole alphabet, Carlotta, just not as often as I’d like.”

“No, no, no,” she said. “I mean, have you ever… with other guys?”

“Oh, sure,” I said blithely. “Back in high school, kinda like you, the girls were impossible to get, but the guys never were.”

“And did you…” She pointed at the K. Yeah, this was an insipid conversation, but it was funny, and take my word for it, a very attractive woman pointing at the letter K can be much, much more interesting than price changes in a department store.

I wrote a big H, and she frowned and said, “H? Like homosexual?”

I added a J, and said, “Hand jobs.” I’ve been working in offices for eighteen years, and it was the first time I’d discussed hand jobs with another employee, on the clock. “We did hand jobs,” I explained.

“That would be M,” she said, smiling gorgeously. Oooh, that smile. 

“No, Lottie,” I explained. “M is something you do for yourself. HJ is something you do for me.” There is a bit of a language barrier between us, but with that, she understood. It occurred to me, though, that I probably should have said “something someone else does for you” instead of “something you do for me.” She didn’t catch it, though, or didn’t say anything.

“Do you still...,” she almost asked.

“Do I still what? Do I still do hand jobs? We’re grown-ups, Lottie. If we’re going to talk about hand jobs, we can say ‘hand jobs’.”

“Hand jobs,” she said, with her accent I’ve always found sexy, but today I found sexier. “Hawn chobs, hawn chobs, do you steel do hawn chobs?”

“Nah, that was only when I was young and desperate. These days I just M a lot, and once in a great while if I’m really lucky I F.”

She giggled, “You don’t like boys any more?”

“Nope, I don’t like boys. Never did, really. I don’t like men, either. I like women. They’re softer, not so hairy, smell better, look better, and they don’t fart as loud as men, at least not on purpose. Honest, I don’t know what women see in men. We’re repulsive.”

“I like men,” she said. “Women are too soft.”

“No man could be soft around you,” I didn’t say, not because I was being careful, but because that line didn’t occur to me until ten minutes later, when I was in the men’s room.

You’re thinking this was all an awfully adolescent conversation, and of course it was. Most of the day, Lottie and I just quietly worked, but there were several other brief but outrageous conversations. Just about every time she talked to me, it seemed to be naughty. 

Like, when one of the temps came over to ask a question, he ended up talking about his time in the navy, and somewhere in the conversation he mentioned his rank. Lottie leaned over and whispered in my ear, “I like seamen.” 

And when we’d gone an hour without saying anything to each other, she asked if I wanted some of her sunflower seeds, and I said sure. She pointed at the floor and said, “Beg.” No, I didn’t beg, but still … 

♦ ♦ ♦

This company’s motto ought to be, “The bullshit never ends,” but i suspect it's about to.

Everyone got a memo from Boss Babs, amounting to a brief overview of how the Entire System of Everything will be done differently, now that the merger has been finalized and my employer is now owned by a different giant conglomerate. The memo ends with this line: “Also, please plan on working Saturday May 27th, and Monday May 29th (Memorial Day) on these conversion activities.”

That’s a laugh, and the answer is no. I’ll work on a holiday weekend if I need the extra money, but otherwise, no way am I sacrificing squat out of my free time for Big Babs.

Even funnier, she seems to be pretty sure that her department will still exist in four and a half months. I’ve been through exactly what's coming, though, from the other side — and so has Babs.

When I first started temping here, a year before I was hired, it was the opposite situation. Our chain of department stores had just acquired a smaller chain of department stores, and what happened? A lot of the smaller company’s clerical staff was laid off. That’s the way it works. Always the devouring company lays off staff from the acquired company, and this time we’re the acquired company.

So you wrote a great memo there, Babs, and indeed, there may be a big conversion project coming up, but I’m not so sure we’ll be the people doing that work. We’ll be the ones looking for work instead, and that might even include you, Babs.

♦ ♦ ♦

When the zine gets a good review, I usually don’t mention it, just because good reviews in the self-published world are easy to come by. It’s not hard to be better than average, when average is amateur. Besides, a lot of zines publish nothing but good reviews of everything they see.

But this week’s Anderson Valley Advertiser includes a good review for Pathetic Life, and it’s making me glow like Chernobyl. I’ve read it over and over, and I’m celebrating with a gallon of butter pecan ice cream. Tomorrow, of course, the zine will return to its regularly scheduled pessimism and monotony.

From Pathetic Life #8
Thursday, January 12, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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