Rich dunderhead, poor dunderhead

Hey, my back doesn't hurt from yesterday's hard work! Maybe I'm getting the knack of bending my knees, not my back, when lifting.

♦ ♦ ♦

I've been an insomniac since adolescence, and explained it like that for almost as long, like I'm proud that my internal angst keeps me up nights. This morning, though, I woke up with a different theory.

Maybe just maybe it's not my ceaseless anxieties that have left me lying awake so many years. Maybe it's because I've rarely worked up a sweat, ever, in my life. 

Check this logic: Since I switched from easy office work at Macy's — pushing buttons like George Jetson — to a daily grind that often involves picking things up — exertion and perspiration — I'm sleeping better, so long as the gunslingers on this block hold their fire.

Last night I slept 7½ hours, straight through, then woke up and wrote a little, and then slept another hour and a half. Nine hours total, in one night — that as rare as hot fries at McDonald's.

Gee, doctor, my insomnia is cured! 

♦ ♦ ♦

I wasn't working at the shop today, and on the phone a man said he'd called because my flyer listed both dog-sitting and office work — and he needed both.

That was a few days ago, so this morning I rode out on the J line to meet him. He's a tweedy dude in his late 30s or early 40s who wanted me to stay in his house, watching his two big dogs. He introduced the dogs to me, and they're huge slobbering friendly things, but one of them had surgery recently, and had a cone over its head. My mission, should I choose to accept it, was to make sure the dog didn't scratch its cone off, or have it chewed off by the other dog, or just bark too much and bother the neighbors — and also, I was supposed to sit at the dining room table and input names and dates and prices into the client's laptop, from his substantial pile of receipts.

Well, I chose to accept the mission, and then the homeowner left me alone with the receipts and the doggies all day. Meaning, he left.

People are the damnedest animals, aren't they? I almost never let anyone into my apartment, even people I know, not because I'm embarrassed by the place (though I certainly should be) but because it's my place. Maybe, maybe you can come inside for a few minutes if I'm hoping we'll boink or you'll blow me, but that never happens, and other than that, I don't want anyone in my place, ever, even when I'm home.

The idea of letting a stranger in, shaking his hand, showing him my dogs, pointing him to a computer I could never afford, handing him my receipts, and then leaving for the day and saying, "I'll be back at 4:00 or so" — that's incomprehensibly alien to me. After the guy left I spent a few minutes in bedazzled amazement.

Then I made sure the front door and back door were both locked, and petted the dogs again.

Then I sat down at the dining room table and started working through the guy's stack of receipts. He spent $24.19 at South Park Cafe on January 2, for a "working lunch with Don, Jules, and Michael." On to the next receipt, and the next...

He hadn't asked me not to explore the house, but I did not explore his house, partly because the whole arrangement seemed so weird I thought there might be hidden cameras or booby traps, but more to the point because I do not give a damn about someone else's house. Many things in life I'm curious about, but not that slightly-graying yuppie's underwear drawer or whatever.

After inputting 75 receipts from January, I checked on the dogs, fed 'em and walked 'em. Then I input February, and checked on the dogs, and then March, right up to Saturday night's dinner for two at Tadich Grill ($68), plus parking ($6). If he can afford those prices, this fucker better tip well, was all I could think. Then I played with the dogs some more, and fell asleep on the couch.

The client came home at a little before 4:00, and scolded me for having my shoes on his sofa. Jeez, man.

We talked for a very few minutes, and he was cordial and seemed pleased that all his receipts had been input, and his dogs were alive and well. He paid me and included a gratuity, though not a Tadich Grill-level tip.

Then I was gone, and he never even checked my backpack to see if I was absconding with the silver (I wasn't). It re-amazed me, though, as I rode the streetcar home, to think that a businessman could be successful and presumably evil enough to buy a house, in a nice neighborhood, in the most expensive city in the world — yet so dunderheaded he'd hire me from a flyer stuck to a telephone pole, and then leave me alone in his house all day, five minutes after we met. Truly, the rich have no comprehension of anything but being rich.

♦ ♦ ♦

He's not the only dunderhead, though. When I came home, I checked my messages — Pike and I have a phone now — and some woman had called, saying she might have "anything legal" work.

Well, Stevi has promised me two more weeks of work at the shop, and Pike has been covering other "anything legal" work as it comes up. I was tuckered out, and just wanted to eat six ham sandwiches and type for a while, so instead of returning her call, I gave her name and number to Pike.

And of course, that particular phone call turned out to be a jackpot. The client is a college-age woman, majoring in journalism or photography or something, and for her thesis she's taking a zillion pictures in the Tenderloin, San Francisco's worst neighborhood. She wants a bodyguard — a man to accompany her on long jaunts through tough streets, sometimes at night, to keep thugs and beggars, addicts and winos at a safe distance. 25 hours a week, she says, for "at least" two months. My calculator says that's a thousand dollars, but… I gave Pike the callback, so it's Pike's assignment, not mine.

Doug the dunderhead.

From Pathetic Life #10
Thursday, March 30, 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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