Walking the grounds

I've sunk into my recliner again. It's a wonderful place to be, perhaps my favorite place in the solar system. Sure beats hearing an alarm clock and wearing pants and going to work five days a week.

There are no interesting stories to be told of life in a recliner, though, so once in a while I struggle out of the rickety old chair, put on pants, and venture a few miles into the world. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Enough money remains from my last job that, barring emergencies, I don't need to work for at least a few months. There's no such thing as barring emergencies, though, so I phone-interviewed for a job a few days ago, against my will but only sorta.

The job is managing a self-storage lot. The owner explained on the phone that I'd be working alone, with long quiet lulls when there'd be next-to-nothing to do. "Answer the phone if it rings," she said, "sign up a new tenant if one wanders in, walk the grounds twice daily. If you get bored, it's OK to bring a book."

The pay is fine, and the job includes a one-bedroom apartment upstairs, above the office. The manager lives there now, but he's retiring.

They had me at 'working alone', but everything else sounded orgasmic, too. Even crazier, the owner said I was "impressive." That's a word not often used to describe me, but on the phone I'd somehow sounded like a responsible adult, who ought to be employed.

The only thing left, the owner said, was a second interview, in person, with the current manager, Paul. 

So the next morning I bused to the self-storage place, which would be an easy commute to work — one bus, no transfers — until I passed the probationary period, and moved into the apartment upstairs.

When I met Paul, too good to be true continued. He was eating pizza at the front desk, and offered a slice. Ten minutes into the fairly standard Q-and-A plus pepperoni, he walked to a mini-fridge, grabbed a beer, and offered me one. Have you ever been offered a beer at a job interview?

We talked and laughed for another half an hour. Paul showed me the computer system, the security cameras, and the back office behind the front office. He said they were behind on "computer stuff," so my many years of office experience would be helpful in catching up.

Then he took me upstairs, and showed me his apartment. It looked luxuriantly comfortable, with a gorgeous view of all the padlocked storage units, and no flatmates. He reassured me that he'd be moving out, "back to family in Phoenix," once he'd finished training me on the job.

None of this was "if". The vibe was "When can you start?" and when Paul actually asked that question, I shrugged and said, right now. 

Then we walked the grounds together, and he stopped to chat with an old Asian guy who was moving things around in his space at the facility. Paul introduced me as, "This is Doug, and he'll be the new me."

Our walk back to the office took us across the small parking lot, which was empty, and Paul asked where my car was.

"I took the bus."

"Well, you do have a car, right? You'll need a car to drive into Normandy Park and make the daily bank deposits."

Nope, I don't have a car, so I'll remain unemployed until the money from my last job dwindles away, and I'll continue living in the shared house with Dean and Robert and the angry 'L'.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Walking from the self-storage to the bus stop took me past a ratty-looking convenience store at the corner. Not a chain place, it looked messy even from the outside. Faded paint. Plywood covering a broken window. Graffiti on the bricks. It looked like someplace where college kids stock up on beer at the start of a slasher-in-the-woods movie.

Disappointed at not getting the job, I decided to celebrate with something shitty to eat. Manufactured pastries perhaps, or a six-pound sack of salty chips. Maybe both. Toward and through the door I walked, one step into the store, and stopped.

Right inside was an arcade-style mini-statue, maybe two feet tall, atop the counter. It was a clown, eerie and frightening already, and holding a sign over its belly that said, "Turn off fake news." Below that was a miniature Trump/Pence bumper sticker, and below that, "Make America great again."

I started chuckling, spun and left and laughed all the way to the bus stop. 

♦ ♦ ♦  

When I'm not writing about the news or the movies or Doctor Who, when I'm 'seriously' writing, I try to put away all the shields, all the pretense. My mission is to write honestly about one weirdo's shitty, worse-than-ordinary life.

Which it is, of course, and I know that. Almost never do I polish anything up, spin it prettier than it is. If it's shit it's shit, but at least it's real.

What I've written today, about yesterday's job interview and the convenience store, is about all that's in me, though.

There are ten pages of notes I'd scribbled about working at Vector, before COVID hit midway through my two week's notice there. Now none of of those stories seem worth telling. It's just notes about shit that'll never be written, and that's OK.

Most of the shit of my life never gets written, and most of what's written would be better unwritten.

My mom has started nagging me again to go to church. My stoner nephew wants me to join him for breakfast, just the two of us, and won't say why. Had a strange argument with my flatmate Dean, about Spam™. But none of that is worth writing, either.

For this afternoon, nothing could be finer than to tilt in my recliner, watch an old movie, and maybe later some Doctor Who.



  1. Man, that's a bummer about needing a car for that self-storage place, that sounded like a dream job.

    One thing I been meaning to ask whenever I read about you taking a bus: I often wonder if you have a *thing* for pretty girls who read books on the bus. . .although nowadays most folks are on their phones. But a couple days ago I saw an attractive girl on the bus reading a book, and it reminded me of the old days, when quite often I would see a pretty girl with a book, and I was intensely curious as to what book they were reading. I remember how I hoped one day I would see a girl reading J.-K. Huysmans. . .it never happened, of course. Anyway, do you have, or have you ever had, a girl-on-the-bus-with-a-book fetish?

    1. I have always and will always have a 'thing' for pretty girls, and reading a book signals above-average intelligence. Not sure I'd call it a fetish, but it's a grand combination, and I try to glimpse the title of whatever book some stranger is reading.

      Once, by coincidence, I stepped onto a city bus bound for home and my wife was already aboard, reading a book she politely put down when she saw me and waved. It wasn't Huysmans, it was Jane Austen. She was always rereading Jane Austen.

  2. The food or the unwelcome digital message?


  3. This is why western civilizaqtion is doomed. The assumption that every person has a car and it'[s so taken for granted they don't even mention it in the job listing!

    1. It really is baked into the cake, man. It's the assumption, always, that you're driving everywhere. When I said I'd taken the bus, he didn't ask why or anything, but the look on hos face was like I'd said I have leprosy.


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