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Wednesday, Mar. 22, 2006
I swear, I should go back to working for myself immediately and continue to ignore 99% of what is going on in the world, because some of the stuff y’all are subjected to on a daily basis is just . . . too much.

The radio? I haven’t listened to the radio for a long time. I haven’t eaten lunch in the car for a long time either but yesterday the two got together and, damn. There was this call in radio show see, and for whatever reason it was country music day, and the female on the ringer sez, “Hey! I’m jest sittin’ here a-studying my stuff for dental class and need to hear some Martina!” (heaven knows why, but the female DJ seemed perfectly cognizant of who Martina was and why a dental hygiene student should need to hear her). “I’m a-studying and I’m getting married to my dream man jest as soon as my divorce comes through. And I’m here to tell you that’s looking pretty damn good too! Whoo!”

Construction sites tend to have radios if the superintendent is an easy going sort. They’ve parked me at a school re-hab where every room, it seems, has its own version of the bridge firefight / bunker scene in Apocalypse Now. A couple of guys, some tools, a lot of filth and one blaring radio. I happened to be ensconced in a bunker with some gentlemen who believed their salvation was tied to the almost Talmudic-like uncoding of complex rap selections and their Messiah was a prophet named DJ Def.

(It was brief. The prophet and his faithful were urged to seek shelter elsewhere.)

I like quiet rooms when I work. If I want noise I can turn on a saw.

Yesterday morning I opened the front door and walked to the truck. It was 6:30, and it seemed that every other house on the block with working folk had the same idea. Leave at the appointed hour and hasten to the feeding pen (but, no doubt, with radios tuned to the appropriate position). We all jostled our way out of the neighborhood and began rubbing shoulders with the rest of the cattle in a run down the feed chute, out onto the open plain where we moved enmasse in a northerly direction, with random perimeter cowboys disguised as State Troopers roping the occasional stray off to the side.

I’m not a big fan of structure and regimentation. Living with one eye on the clock. I don’t own a watch. “You need to be there by 7 and please don’t work past 4 ‘cause then you’re getting into overtime territory, and Lord knows we don’t need any of that” works poorly for me. Having a jobsite lackey wander by at 3 in the afternoon and wondering, “Y’all ain’t gonna work past 3:30, are ye? I gots to get these doors chained up, yo!” leaves me cold.

Maybe I need to work on my people skillz. Having a disagreeable notion of being linked with a herd of mooing Holsteins would likely be a good starting point.

Wife Ally is eager to know how my re-entry into the employed-by-others world is going. I know this because she asks me, nightly, after we‘ve both arrived home. “How was your second day? Do you like it?” She is kind, is Ally. She knows me, and how I suffer, and why martyrdom becomes me so well.

“Oh it’s fine. Same old stuff, you know.” Which in translation means - I’ve been doing this stuff for so long that the work itself is no big deal, it’s a little like knowing you want to eat breakfast and having procured eggs and a frying pan, you proceed to scramble the eggs and salt to taste. Can do it with your eyes closed.

“I mean, are they treating you okay?”

“They seem like nice people.” Which, after just a couple of days, is fairly presumptuous. They could very well turn out to be the devils own spawn for all I know. Employers frequently do, running a high profile firm with mega-dollars flowing in and out for years tends to disillusion them to the outlaw way of doing things.

“I just want you to be happy in your day, honey. Is it all good?”

It’s good, my sweet and gentle wife. I will suck up a great deal of the trials and strife and will not complain. I will be compliant and cheerful. A sunny outlook. Respect for the Man. I pondered how best to say all that to Ally, without her worrying that I was gelding myself out of respect for our cause. Her mother is dying of cancer, slowly and with great pain. Ally doesn’t need any of my foolishness on her plate right now.

“Well, you’ll be glad to know that I didn’t have a beer until 5 this afternoon. Cutting back, you see. Makes for good theater.” She has few complaints, but prodigious consumption of fermented beverages is one of them, and I suppose she has a point.

“Oh good!” she cried, and she was quick to have a kiss for me. “Come on, let’s eat!”

And eat we did, and it was all fine. The end of a little day. Days that start early for me, rising at an unearthly hour for most, to have that couple hours of utter sanity and think long on things that get lost in the triviality of commuting to a job, and radios blaring inanity and keeping an eye glued to a non-existent watch.

Like all Holsteins, getting up early is not hard to do at all.

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