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Monday, September 05, 2011

A Slacker's Manifesto; A Recollection on Travel and How I was Possibly Working for the Mob.

Now let me reminisce for awhile on an old job that I used to have. I was spoiled outright. And the blame rests solely on this shady boss who lived in Las Vegas and ran the whole operation. I think back and out of all my 4 years as a dutiful employee for this man, this enigma of voice and wallet behind the bank card that I was given, and of those frolicsome years, I had never face-to-face met the man. I knew he was a business man. And from his voice resonating on the other side of the company cell phone, I knew him to be a direct, shrewd businessman who doesn’t waste words nor time on anything. He had the stereotypical choleric nature. Something that bordered on the verge of being feudal and chief-like, though lordly and protective. Early on, I discovered that he was a native of New York City, I think, Brooklyn. He had that shell-like hardball edge to him. Sometimes talked as though he was yelling out of a taxi. And this one deep, deep fact…He was more Irish than half the bumbling barflies you’d ever meet in a pub in Dublin or Cork, even.

All this left me with the sense that I was part of something much deeper than I could understand. Though, I never cared to probe. I never asked questions , I wasn’t supposed to. I didn’t chew the gristle, so to speak, I merely did my job. Calling stores and traveling to them . He would call me…maybe once a month, maybe not. That was the overall supervision I had. I lived free. I worked when I wanted and played much more when I didn’t want to work. It was an ideal job for a gypsy with issues in sloth and without any ties to a lady or a child or both. I wandered the Deep South. -Was this national company’s representative of that area of the US. Sometimes roaming down backroads where chicken trucks were the norm. Sometimes, wandering through the remnants of Dixie’s old cities, decaying next to the river…a Memphis or a New Orleans. Usually always heedful of the state trooper’s flashing lights. I was Huck Finn falling off the raft into strange tributaries.

We grow up thinking that there is such a thing called a “real world” where the structures and life vehicles that hold our parents and grandparents the same must hold us. Even in my current life now, I often hear people talking about a “real world” (whatever they mean by that), as though being a teacher in Korea is not real enough. This job, I held before, was a fantastical dream if one thinks that teaching in Korea is not a job. And yet, it was my first “real” job after the University.

Somehow throughout all the commencement speeches during graduation, throughout all the rallying of motivational education, and the long, arduous slog of toil and yawndom, through papers and textbooks, someone forgot to tell me that in the future it was both physically and economically possible to have a job that allows you to sleep in til 11 everyday. And this I did, well, maybe not every single day, but it certainly had got into a habit.
I make no pretenses. I try not to pretend what I can never be. I will admit, just in case you have made the mistake in assuming me to be one…but, I am not a snob of ambition. A snob of free time? Why, Yes,...of leisure, of tomfoolery and horseplay….with these I turn my nose, (fairly easy when it is resting on a pillow,) up at the rest of the productive world. And instead of going about my business, I aptly forge ahead with all various "businesses" and curiosities and adventures in the world. Seeing, thinking, experiencing alot. But not getting alot done. Some people call it procrastination. I term it motivational brainstorming or just plain soul-searching.

There was this one time that I asked my boss permission if I could take off a month from work and go to Italy. It being the slow time of the year, he said, “Yes.” So I did what any raving traveler full of admiration for high art, inspiring history, and damn good ice cream would do, I went to Italy.

Still another time, I left my job for 4 months. Call it bachelor-cowboy leave if you will.(Equivalent to a maternity leave;what I'll never get to experience). And I moved to New Zealand. I told my boss that I was to be gone a little while without any specificity in regards to when I'll back. He said it was okay. In my head, what was to be an entire year of bachelor leave, of roving manhood and feats of masculine island-tromping, I came back early soon after a car wreck. I decided that working for a job that required little motivational incentive other than taking road trips and folding a few T-shirts was in my best interest, was the best policy as far as goals in life or lack thereof, and the caged reality of this world with its motto. -Man must work for food. And if this is the sad truth, than going on road trips and calling stores whenever I wanted to, was better than breaking my back picking kiwifruit. No matter the location.

I called up my boss from this tiny island not far from Auckland, an island known through the Kiwi lands for its exquisite wine..though tiny it was. And my boss had been there. And all he remarked on was how there was this really good Irish pub nearby. I asked him if he still needed me. He was very excited and said of course. So I told him I would be making my way back home. I had simply to buy a plane ticket, stop for a week in Fiji, that sort of thing. Didn't tell a soul, I was coming home. Surprised everyone including my mother.

But hands down, the most slack that I was given. Was when I thought I could take a 2 month trip to Europe without my boss knowing about it. You know, 2 months to do the essentials...run with the bulls in Pamplona, Participate in the world's largest food fight, go on an ancient medieval pilgrimage, visit the Guinness Brewery, and kiss the Blarney Stone. You know all the stuff you can possibly squeeze into on a vacation to Spain and Ireland. I thought why bother with all the formalities of calling my boss in Vegas, all that bothersome red tape. Just buy a plane ticket and go. It wasn't til I was in Ireland that I checked my messages and found out that it was very important that I be in Mobile, AL in a week. Yikes. So I had to scratch the month long hike and pilgrimage in Northern Spain. I called our secretary, and told her that it was no problem. They never found out that I was making the call from an internet cafe in Cork, Ireland. Nor that that the "no problem" meant buying another round trip ticket (I wanted to come back to Europe for the Tomato Festival in Spain, you see) nor that the "no problem" was a cumbersome travail through 3 countries Ireland, France, and Spain, just to come back to Mobile, Alabama to set up a dad-gum T-shirt display rack on time. But I came back to Alabama and called off a life-changing spiritual pilgrimage to the cathedral where St. Thomas' bones are buried. For I am a good employee.

Maybe 5 months after this incident, it is the slow season, and I am in the Portland area visiting friends for 3 weeks. I decide to check on some stores in this area. You know, peak my head in the door. Do my job. When I found out that there was previously somebody else going around doing the same thing. It just so happened that a group from my company was up in the area checking on things. So I got this call from our secretary and she asked me if I was in the Oregon/Washington area for they too had heard about some long haired blonde guy going around the stores asking about shirts. I was in the wrong, for I had stepped into another's territory. My territory being the Southeast portion of the US, or actually the entire East. The Northwest was another's. I don't know if my boss was really peeved about it. I just knew by this time the economy was taking its toll on our company's expenses. And I was working less and less. Eventually, they only called me when they needed me. And The last time was a year ago. Hence, why I left a fairly interesting job and moved to Korea. Where I go to work everyday at the same time. It's not bad, but sometimes, in between pouting 6 year olds and story books, I think back to a time when I pretty much did whatever I wanted to. I think those days of frolicsome youth are over with. Spent. Gone like the US economy. Fitzgerald was always harkening back to a Gilded age. Perhaps that was my Gilded Age, not of wealth or luxury, but of carefree days, remarkable freedom, perhaps, waste as well.


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