Mr Previn

"This is Mr Previn. I am holding your ad that says you'll do anything legal, and I have half a day's work for you." OK, but who leaves a message and identifies themselves as "Mr Previn"? 

I returned his call, and when I started with, "I'm Doug, the guy from the flyers," again he said, "I'm Mr Previn," before talking about what he needed me to do.

So today I'd be working for a man with no first name, and guess what? He's rich, at least by my standards, though by rich people's standards he's probably poor.

He said he owns three boutiques, two in the Marina and one South of Market, and my job was to be a secret-shopper — go into each store, stand around, see if anyone helped me, and ask some rudimentary questions to see if the staff knows the answers.

On the phone, he gave me the stores' addresses, and I mapped out my Muni rides — mostly 22s and 14s. We agreed on six hours of pay — $30 — though I couldn't imagine one visit to each store could take that long.

It's a little peculiar already, but it gets more peculiar. Mr Previn wanted to meet me at a downtown soup-and-sandwich shop, and he gave me that address, too, and told me he'd supply me with a device to record my conversations in the stores.

Wearing a hidden microphone seemed slightly over the top, but what the hell, thirty bucks is thirty bucks, plus he said he'd buy me lunch, and I rarely say no to someone buying lunch. He'd made it all sound somewhat clandestine, though, so I made double-sure my mace was in my pocket before busing to the soup-and-sandwich place.

I got there five minutes early, and the place was swanky — checkered blankets on the tables, three-digit prices, and a necktie and matching jacket on the young man behind the counter. I'd never eat at that place unless someone else was buying.

It wasn't busy at all. Inside, three men were eating at three different tables, so I said "Ahem," and addressed the room, "Would any of you be Mr Previn?" Two shook their heads no, and the third said he could be if I asked nicely — clearly a come-on — so I went back outside and leaned on the wall next to the only door.

And there I was for another fifteen minutes, asking every male who went inside, "Are you Mr Previn?" None of them were, or none admitted it, so I guess he had second thoughts. I have better ways to spend my days than loitering in front of a sandwich shop, so I left with no soup, no sandwich, no gig, and no idea what that was all about, but I'm happy to still honestly say that I've never worn a wire.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Since I was 2/3 of the way there already, I took a #27 bus to my maildrop, and came out with my backpack a few pounds heavier. Then I walked down Geary Boulevard to visit the phone booth that owed me 20¢.

Revenge is beneath me, of course, but accidents do happen. I'd rummaged through my tool kit yesterday, and brought a fist-sized container of cheap liquid glue, purchased a year ago for sticking up my "I'll do anything" flyers. It proved better at sticking my fingers together, and soon I switched to glue sticks or sticky paper instead. 

Oops, I spilled glue onto the phone's mouthpiece, and then spilled some more, and drenched the keypad too. Cherry on top was an index card that said, "Out of order" in big letters, and in smaller letters, "All refunds made only by check."

♦ ♦ ♦  

Let's see… The phone booth ripped me off, and it got glued. Jose's Produce ripped me off, and they got roaches.

I have the addresses for all three of Mr Previn's shops, and it would be a shame if something happened to that Walgreens from last Wednesday, where the security guard kicked me out.

From Pathetic Life #24
Wednesday, May 29, 1996

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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  1. loved the Mr Previn story, ah the days of $5 an hour...Eel

    1. I've thought about doing it again, here in Seattle in 2023. The rates have gone up, though.

    2. I'm a little shy. I'd have a problem working for somebody different every day or week or month. I was much more comfortable just getting a little office and doing a roughly similar job every day. I find that less stressful than meeting a new boss for every job. Breaking in a boss is serious work.


    3. It's always been illogical, even to me, what situations trigger my severe anxiety. School, definitely. Being the 'new guy' in any situation where the experienced guys are there, too. Being the one-day wonder at my "anything legal" gigs, you'd think, even I'd think, would make me ill at ease, but weirdly I never was.

    4. Yeah, I'm not ready to let this thread drop. I have generalized anxiety disorder, which I treated with bourbon until my stomach fell apart in the mid-90s. My doc then suggested Alprazolam (branded as Xanax). My social anxiety decreased dramatically. When my stomach recovered it never occurred to me to drink, and I haven't had a drink since. I still take alprazolam every day and still rarely experience dramatic social anxiety. I'm not crazy about meeting new people, but it doesn't freak me out like it did before the med.

      To the question, "Why do you need to take a drug, even a mild one, just to get through the day?" I give my standard "Fuck you" answer. I take a drug to feel normal.

      That's the short version of my story, and the genesis of my question about starting a new job every day.


    5. The question, "Why do you need to take a drug, even a mild one, just to get through the day?", is so clearly prying, judgmental, and simply nobody's damned business, the asker is actually asking for a punch in the nuts.

      Jesus Fudge — we all do whatever we gotta do to make it through. Taking a pill that actually helps? Seems a miracle. What a shitty rat bastard question to ask.

      It wasn't my mother, was it?

    6. Claude Don't Toy With Me ReignsJune 2, 2023 at 7:21 PM

      John, does Xanax help with anger? I don't really have anxiety as an adult, but I have the worst irritability at EVERYTHING, every slightest physical inconvenience. Like I break a shoelace or drop my dinner fork and I LOSE IT for the next 24 hrs, to the point of heart palpitations and double vision. I guess I have an unreasonable temper!

      The only reason I haven't tried it is because I hear that of all the psychoactive drugs, withdrawal from Xanax is among the worst.

    7. Claude, I'm not a doctor, a pharmacologist, or even a farmacologist, but I'll share my opinion: Xanax is, in fact, highly habituating, and you should always take the lowest dose necessary to address your symptoms. I'm taking a fairly high dose, and if I had to stop taking it (there are no reasons to HAVE to stop taking it -- it doesn't interact negatively with many other drugs -- it will take pretty close to a year to coast to a stop.

      Having said that, what Xanax mostly does is suppress the adrenal glands from pumping adrenaline into your system. So if your unreasonable temper is caused by an inappropriate amount of adrenaline in your system, Xanax should help. Obviously, a frank discussion with your primary care person would be the next step. My opinion, unlicensed and unschooled, is that Xanax would help significantly with your symptoms. Some docs don't like to prescribe it. My doc was great about it and didn't hesitate. And you wouldn't have to ramp up to full therapeutic dose to know whether it would help. You'd know with a small amount of Xanax a day for a month or so. The difference would be subtle, but you'd detect it. Good luck.


    8. Claude Co-Pay is $500 ReignsJune 2, 2023 at 8:42 PM

      I hear about people using it recreationally, which seems very odd to me - especially if it takes time to ramp up and ramp down. Perhaps it helps people sleep, etc.

      The mention of adrenaline is fascinating. I have (had) afib, which was treated successfully via a surgical procedure, but when I get these anger spells, it comes back for the duration. Maybe what I need is just good strong dose of Valium?

      My ENT doc subscribed Valium for debilitating vertigo, but I never actually filled the script. I wish I had. He was a funny guy. Jewish fella, about my age (50s) and before he cauterized my sinuses he sprayed a liquid anesthetic up my honker, and said "This is gonna taste like a coke party circa 1985" heh heh. He wasn't wrong!

      At any rate, this is AMERICA, dammit, where we're proud to get our health care online and pay for it via crowdfunding and public flagellation.

    9. Claude, I've never heard of anybody using it recreationally. I know people whose docs prescribed a small dose to help them sleep, and that's pretty much off-label, but it doesn't seem recreational to me. There is no "high" associated with Xanax.

      I take .5 mg 3-4 times a day (that's POINT 5 -- sometimes the decimal points get lost and the dose is important). A sleep-assist dose would be either .25 or .5 as needed, not more than once or twice a day/night.

      I hope you will talk with your doc and talk him/her into getting you on a three to six month trial of .5mg 2 or 3 times a day. It's the easiest way by far of determining whether your anger problem is fully or partially adrenaline-based.

      Life is way too short to carry around an anchor (or an anger) all the time. Chucking the anchor (in my case the anxiety anchor) was the best thing I ever did. There are no panaceas. You still have to live your life and manage your relationships. But Xanax makes that doable.


    10. P.S. - Valium -- the "I'm dancing as fast as I can" drug, is likely more dangerous than Xanax. I'd be a lot more nervous about habituation with Valium than with Xanax, although they're both habituating. Don't stop pursuing treatment for chronic anger or any chronic condition that interferes with your enjoyment of life. Good luck, and let me know it goes.



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