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Return to Telegraph Ave

Today was my grand return to Telegraph Avenue, and yet there was no "Welcome back!" banner across the intersection.

Far more disappointing, the upshot of all Jay's pleadings with City Hall is — absolute zero. We're displaying a city license again, and selling only items authorized for sale by the City of Berkeley, which means that the Darwin fish has been banned.

I'm disgusted, and planning to put up "I'll do anything" flyers next week. Not only because the censorship pisses me off, but because without the most famous fish, the fish stand isn't viable. This job won't exist for long. Jay says we'll sell fish by mail order, but there's not gonna be 40 hours a week in mail order, so — I'll do anything legal, again, for five bucks an hour.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Today, though, I sold fish on Telegraph, and ended up working next to the vendor who'd complained when my stand was a quarter-inch into his space. Seeing him, I briefly considered putting the stand a smidgen into his space again for old time's sake, but when I started setting up he nodded at me and smiled, so bygones became bygones. 

Maybe it was my imagination, because I was glad to be back, but a surprising number of the other vendors seemed glad to see me. "Hey, Doug, where've you been?" and all that. The surprising number was three, but that's three more than I would've thought. 

And I'd forgotten perhaps the best perk of this job: so many gorgeous women, walking by all day. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

When the city's overlord of sidewalk vendors stopped at the stand, he looked it over and said with a smile, "No Darwins today, I see." Then he looked at the license taped to the table and said, "and your license is in order…"

Was it my imagination, or was he gloating?

We'd added something new to the fish display. Jay found an folding fireplace screen made of polished metal, perfect for showing all our fish magnets atop the table. The magnets clomp right to the metal, and it's an attractive, eye-catching display. 

Or it was, until the inspector general pulled a tape measure from his pocket. The new magnetic display is two and a half feet tall, but it rests on the table, which is three feet tall, and the inspector schmuck explained that among the countless rules for street vending, there's a height limit. The display stand can't exceed four feet, six inches in height. It's the law. I moved the new display from atop the table, where everyone could see it, to beneath the table, where only toddlers can see it.

Also, I looked around Telegraph, and noticed that several of the vendors selling clothes had their merch hanging from racks clearly about five feet tall.

I said nothing about this, because I'm not a tattletale, and because I knew the schmuck wouldn't change his mind and allow our magnet display atop the table. If he did anything at all, he'd just go around making life miserable for the vendors selling clothes on five-foot racks.

It irritates me, though, and it would've infuriated me, if I hadn't borrowed two hits off the joint Umberto was smoking. 

Jay tells me what to do, within reason, because she's my boss by mutual agreement. Sarah-Katherine can tell me what to do, too, because I'm shamelessly pussy-whipped. But the city schmucks are people I wouldn't trust to ring up rice right in a grocery store, and I'm compelled to obey every picayune rule they come up with, or we're out of business.

From Pathetic Life #16
Saturday, September 23, 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.

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