Calogero Grodecki, 11/9/2009

Current Occupation: Location Sound Engineer, Production Assistant
Former Occupations: Night Clerk, Intern, Valet, Delivery Driver, Dishwasher, Cab Driver, Line Cook, Bouncer, Call Center Operator, Substitute Teacher, Temp, Waiter, Bartender, Translator, etc.
Contact Information: You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

# # #

The Concierge

“I want a soda,” she says, holding a wrinkled dollar bill in her hand. She’s stumbling drunk and trying to order a beverage, but this isn’t a bar or a restaurant. It’s not a lemonade stand, food cart, gas station, or ice cream truck either. I work the front desk at a residence hotel that also poses as a budget hotel for tourists visiting Manhattan. And right now, I’m confused as to why she’s trying to buy a soda off me when the vending machines are at the other end of the hall.

“Here is my I.D.,” she continues, “look at it and tell me what it says. Why isn’t there any hot water?” Huh? I check her date of birth and see its 10/19/1954. That’s tomorrow; well 10/19 is anyway.

“Well Happy Birthday, Shoshanna!”

“Calo, it’s my birthday in one hour. My boyfriend is coming to see me. I have to wash my ass.”

“Okay, well, the boiler has been fixed. The only problem is that to repair the leak they had to shut it off and no one is here who knows how to turn it back on. But, there’ll be water by tomorrow for sure. You’ll be able to wash your ass.”

“How is it that it’s my birthday and I can’t wash my ass? Huh?”

“Shoshanna, we’ll have hot water tomorrow. You’ll be able to wash your ass. I promise.” She’s right though, we rent singles to tourists for over $100, $150 for a private bath, and more still for a double. Yet, there’s no hot water and I have no authority to grant refunds to the guests who’ve been demanding them all night. And now, I have to awkwardly explain to a fifty year old alcoholic how she could heat up water on the stove to solve this problem. She’s one step ahead of me, however.

“I’m going to heat up water in a pot and rub myself with a rag,” she says before miming how she’ll floss her ass by grinding against an invisible towel. With that disgusting, shit stained, image burned into my head, she wanders off. For a Shoshanna interaction that was pretty painless. I’m still scarred from the time she came to my room and asked me to help her zip up her dress, then proceeded to barge in and drop it around her ankles to reveal her nasty shriveled up body which seemed twenty years older than her I.D. indicated.

“What do you think of my ass?” was her line, I believe.

She’s a freak, but she’s also just one of many in our building. Dave’s another. He comes downstairs and asks for his mail continuously throughout the day, even after it’s already arrived. Until the weather cooled he would usually make the trip to the desk in nothing but an old pair of sweatpants with his huge gut hanging out of it as well as his butt crack. One day he slipped and fell. Now he has a gigantic black and blue on one of his highly visible ass cheeks. He also has a skin condition that makes it look as if his face could fall off at any moment. Not only that, he’s an albino, as well as a giant- about six foot five and three hundred seventy-five pounds. I’m just grateful he’s not violent. In fact, he’s quite nice, always offering me some of the food he finds in the street.

Not so nice is the guy in 108. I don’t know his name so I just call him O.G. because he’s old and claims to be a “hustler” and “stick up man” who “holds mother-fuckers up” and “punches mother-fuckers out.”

“You’re okay by me though,” was how he sugarcoated that information when he asked to borrow money from me the first time. I cut him off after a dollar but he won’t stop coming to the desk drunk and high to hassle me for more. Usually I’m protected by bullet-proof glass, but once I had to follow up a tourist’s noise complaint which led to a tense face to face encounter with him and his drooling tracheotomy victim buddy. During that exchange he told me he had Hep C and was perfectly willing to take someone out with him.

He’s not the only shady one in the building either. There’s a couple that live upstairs who have repeatedly instructed me not to let any visitors in for them. They’ve also told me to watch out for the people who claim to be there to see the old lady in 526 because they’re actually thugs out to get them. Hopefully I don’t have to deal with these two getting shot while I’m working here.

Actually, I hope we all don’t get shot by our newest resident. He always smiles when he comes in and says hello. But, everything about how he delivers that greeting chills my blood. Imagine a man who’s sweating profusely because he’s trying with all his might to close his mouth but can’t because his cheeks are stapled back into a smile—that’s the expression he utters his “hello” through as he stiffly speed-walks past as though he’s in danger of shitting his pants. I expect that one day he’ll stop smiling and shoot everyone in a McDonalds before turning the gun on himself.

I don’t worry about that from the tenant next to the office. Instead of bottling up his rage he releases it regularly for all to hear. Sometimes you can hear him screaming from several floors up. To the outside world he presents himself as a conservative middle aged professional. But that didn’t stop him from beating down the door to my office once half naked with his pierced nipples exposed. He was there to complain about the fire alarm going off at four in the morning. The cause: the nine hundred year old woman next door.

Your average person might reason that frying bacon while chain smoking with all the windows closed and no exhaust fan on might trip a smoke alarm. But the senile old woman engaged in these pursuits had come to a different conclusion,

“It’s that son of a bitch upstairs. He has a device that makes it go off.” When I suggested she at least try to open a window or turn on a fan, she accused me of having Nazi blood in my veins. Later on she would warm up to me and give me a two dollar tip for fixing her T.V. The thing is I hadn’t touched her T.V. She’s a cute old lady, but very confused.

Of course, the biggest freak here is me. I just graduated from school but thought it made more sense to get a job where I could scam free rent than to use my degree to get a job where I wouldn’t have to. What’s worse, I chose this life over an offer for bargain basement rent, moving in with friends in a much cooler area. I hate to say it, but the most interesting people in my neighborhood are the characters I just described.

Workplace Research Results, 11/2/2009

 

 

John Blackard, 11/2/2009

Current Occupation: put out to pasture under a large oak tree.
Former Occupation: librarian for 14 years; writing and literature teacher for 16 years.
Contact Information: Visit John’s website at www.johnablackard.com or search www.scribd.com for more info.

# # #

Problem Patrons

Morning—
You are working at your desk
When the security alarm sounds:
A woman is squeezing past the checkout gate.
What would you do?
Would you ask her if she has been in tight
Situations before and did she get away?
Who hasn’t felt they deserved more
And shitty when the break they were expecting
Didn’t happen.
How desperate do we have to get
Before we panic and make a run for it?
When it hits us hard— the breakup, the lost job,
The lump— we may be anywhere,
Even in a library with a book in our hands,
And all we want to do is find
The nearest exit and get outside ourselves.
All we want to do is take a deep breath.

Noon—
You are rounding up unshelved books,
And you see a young woman in a study carrel
Razor-blading prints out of an expensive art book.
She defiantly stares back at you.
What would you do?
You see the straight-line scars on her arms,
The pierced nose, eyebrows, lips,
Then tongue which she points in your direction
And vibrates before telling you that you can’t possibly
Understand. She needs beauty in her life,
And you try to remember what Picasso said:
Something about art destroying beauty?
Ask her.

It is late afternoon.
You are working the reference desk alone.
A man doesn’t give you enough information
To let you know what he is looking for.
Your questions make him angry.
He begins to shout obscenities
And threatens you.
What would you do?
You feel the world slow down,
That you can dodge the flecks of spittle
Spraying from the man’s mouth.
You want to tell him it will be alright
If he sits in this chair and looks out the window
At the cherry blossoms blowing across
The courtyard and into the street,
If he remembers someone he loves waiting
For him to help them bear their sorrow.

Evening—
You are shelving books.
As you round a corner, you see a man
Take something from a backpack on the floor,
Slip it into his pants pocket,
And walk rapidly away.
What would you do?
You follow him and find him sitting
In the stairwell, looking at the letter he didn’t
Leave behind, weeping and telling you
About a daughter who won’t talk to him
Since the divorce. She mustn’t know he followed
Her to the library and watched her study,
She is so grown up now
Ready to go to college.
He isn’t just another dirty old man
Hanging out at the public library,
He wants you to understand what it feels
Like to lose a daughter.

Near closing-time:
The woman again, crying and distraught,
Finally tells you that when she was looking
For a book in the stacks a man took
Out his penis.
What would you do?
You ask her where did this happen,
And she holds out her hand.
You ask her to describe the man,
And she wants you to know his penis
Was smooth except for the veins along
Its shaft. The tip was purplish pink
And spongy while the balls were
Covered in a down of red hair
And were lighter than they looked.
Yes, but which way did he go, you ask—
When you know there was no man.

NASA: Now Hiring, 11/2/2009

Oh, NASA. How the mighty have fallen.

Starting with the Lunar Landing and into the 1980s, NASA had it going on. Kids wanted to be astronauts, cosmonauts, explorers sipping TANG and pooping in their padded trousers. Then NASA started screwing up, or perhaps the news broadcasters were more honest than before, and public opinion flagged. The failed Challenger Mission was perhaps the most difficult for the American public to face. That was 1986, just in time for computers to steal children’s interest. 1986 brought us MS-DOS (finally!), Listservs, and the first laptop: 12 pounds of unadulterated floppy disc action. Granted, many technologies NASA has developed are implemented in everyday life in ways which we are hardly aware. Cellular technology wouldn’t exist without satellites. Digital imaging equipment for detecting breast cancer was derived from NASA-based technology. Water purification was devised by NASA employees. Even golf balls were made better by NASA.

So where does NASA stand in the public opinion today? The organization has recently come under attack for using tax dollars on research that may or may not benefit humanity in the long run and, some argue, doesn’t benefit us in the here-and-now.

NASA regularly sends probes to other planets and, most recently, lobbed a satellite (LCROSS) and a worn out rocket (Centaur) at the Moon. Some of NASA’s activities go unnoticed or are announced, as in the case of “bombing” the moon, with almost no advance warning.

NASA is so great that some people have spent their lives trying to prove the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing was fake. Some of those people believe NASA is a front for Freemason/Illuminati groups and is in cahoots with a program called HAARP to zap UFOs/Aliens before they take over our planet.

Maybe that’s true. But no matter what you believe some things stay the same when it comes to NASA. They still need engineers: Aerospace Engineers to be precise. If you’re looking to get into NASA, you might try applying to be an Aerospace Engineer Assistant Flight Systems Tester. You’ll make big bucks, upwards of $85K. AND you’ll get to work in the Space Simulation Test Engineering Section!! Isn’t that exactly what you wanted to do when you were twelve? (I did.)

As an Aerospace Engineer, you will be “preparing and implementing test procedures for space simulation testing, high vacuum techniques, cryogenics systems, solar simulation systems, particulate and molecular contamination control, automated data systems” all by using “state-of-the-art instrumentation.”

Sure, when you look over the job description there’s a lot of testing:
test, checkout, and readiness of test fixtures and test facilities
technical specialist … techniques used for test, checkout, and preparation of systems or hardware in the areas of vacuum technology, heat transfer, cryogenics, contamination, data acquisition and instrumentation.
coordinates the development of test fixture and test facility designs for large multi-purpose, multiple-phase projects
conducts the specialized testing of unique or leading-edge-technology, equipment, or systems
directs, plans, and conducts test programs in areas such as the James Webb Space Telescope Helium Shroud, Dust Environmental Effects Particulate (DEEP) Chamber, Optical Characterization Lab (OCL) Facility and Space Environmental Simulator (SES)
monitors test, interprets and analyzes data, and reports results
develops detailed test plans and procedures
Maybe the job is not as fun as it seemed to begin with. But Space Environmental Simulator!
Isn’t that why you printed out the application?

Before you go running to your fax machine with your resume, check out the qualifications. A Bachelor’s in an appropriate physical science or engineering field is required. An engineering technology degree does not qualify. (For that you can go here.) You’ll need statistics, computer science, differential and integral calculu

Looking for professional people (Tigard, Oregon), 10/26/2009

Do you have what it takes to make it in management? Our recent company expansion has created several full-time positions.

We are looking for 3-5 individuals that are willing to work there way into a management position with in the first 60-90 days of starting with our company.

No specific experience needed.

You must…
*have neat appearance
*be willing to learn
*be great with people
*be outgoing and have a friendly disposition
*be able to work well on your own

We will provide…
*complete training
*fun yet challenging work environment
*opportunity for advancement
*job security

Call to schedule an interview Monday after 8:00 am. We will only be accepting the first 100 calls.

—–

No company name is given.

There is a local (503) phone number given, but no contact information.

All spelling and grammar errors are retained from the original ad.

Laura Lehew, 10/26/2009

Current Occupation: Consultant / Writer
Former Occupation: Technical Support Engineer, Sr. Support Engineer– Information Systems Help Desk, Team Leader – Corporate Information Systems Response Center, Project Leader – Human Resources, Benefits Specialist, Administrator –Human Resources, Principal, Paralegal, Secretary, File Clerk
Contact Information: President and CFO of Deer Run Associates, which provides information technology and security consulting services to clients across the U.S. and abroad; active in the high tech industry for over 25 years, previously serving in a variety of positions for companies in the Bay Area; award-winning poet whose work appears in myriad national and international journals and anthologies and in a chapbook, /Beauty/, published by Tiger’s Eye Press in ’09; M.F.A in writing from the California College of Arts; member of the Lane Literary Guild steering committee, Oregon State Poetry Association Board Member & Contest Chair, and edits Uttered Chaos.

# # #

Everything I learned From Start-Ups


Senior management does not care about you.

Customer service is another axiom for following the golden rule.

There are never enough hours in the day to do your job properly.

Management will never hire enough qualified people.

Document, document, document.

C.Y.A (cover your ass).

You can’t do your work and go to meetings.

If you are in meetings for more than half your day, quit.

Quit when you are required to wear shoes.

Quit when the free stuff isn’t.

Quit when you do the job and your boss takes the credit.

Quit when your boss is fired for politics.

Quit when management hires a consulting agency to optimize the process.

Quit when you get the feeling it’s time.

Quit and management will finally offer you what you are worth,

offer you the job that you really want.

Stock options are just options.

Golden handcuffs are only handcuffs, if you let them be.

The promise of money is just a word.

Not given in earnest.

Go back to school with the stocks and bonuses.

Take something you enjoy.

Leave the industry and never look back.

Interview with Jonathan Drews, 10/19/2009

interview by Luke Strahota
Jonathan Drews, musician and painter.

Jonathan Drews, musician and painter.

The career of Portland musician Jonathan Drews took off sometime around the mid ‘90s with the critically acclaimed power pop band, Sunset Valley, a staple of the Portland indie-rock scene up until its official farewell show in May of 2009. Since then he has established himself as a go-to player; performing, recording, and touring with such acts as Damien Jurado, Dolorean, China Forbes of Pink Martini, and Loch Lomond. At the onset of one of his projects, The Brilliant Channel, Drews began piecing together equipment used to record the band’s demos that now make up his home studio, Last of the Explorers. The studio has since then gone on to host recording sessions with a handful of Portland bands, as well as launch both his and partner Kaitlyn ni Donovan’s, careers into commercial and film soundtrack. For his most recent recording project, he recorded and engineered the latest release by The Boston Spaceships, the newest group led by the prolific Robert Pollard, lead singer and life-force behind the seminal ‘90s group, Guided By Voices.

Around the same time Drew’s music career took off, he unknowingly found himself entering into another career. And while it may not possess the same boasting credentials as working with rock stars, Drews has put the same energy and drive into making this career as much of a success as his music career.

# # #

How did you get started painting houses?

I had been working at Powell’s for four years as a book buyer. Sunset Valley was starting to take off and we were starting to tour. I was rapidly using up all my vacation and sick days. We had a big summer coming up so I had to quit Powell’s. I took the dive and went all in. That summer I started doing light construction work. It was kind of fun and it got me into learning some construction but it wasn’t going to last forever. It was well know around town that Andy Ricker was painting and he had a fondness for hiring people in bands. Andy was really dedicated and a hard worker and could keep you employed. We had done our touring and when we came back I needed work right away. Andy was great too because you could work your ass off for him for a while but then you could tell him you were going out on the road for four weeks two months down the road from now and he’d be like, “It’s fine.” He would let you go and have work for you when you came back. It balanced well with music whereas working retail or a 40-hours-a-week-structured-thing you’re more tied down.

How did it feel to leave the safety net of a steady job?

You feel really insecure and it’s a scary feeling when you’re just kind of dangling there and not knowing what’s around the corner. At the same time you’re 25 years old and it’s like, “So what?” You don’t feel that vulnerable and you adjust to it pretty quick, taking it a week at a time. Now I’m completely responsible for everything. I totally work for myself, I have to find work for myself, no one’s finding work for me, it’s all up to me. So there are periods where I don’t know what’s happening three or four weeks from now and the future is wide open … it can be pretty frightening. There are periods where sometimes I wish I was in a cubicle somewhere knowing I was going to be able to work there forever. Those unknowns are pretty nerve-wracking.

Can you draw any parallels between your two careers?

There are absolutely no parallels between scraping and painting the side of a house and miking drums! When I’m painting a house all I want to do is be in the studio. It’s kind of frustrating because my brain is imagining ideas and I’m hearing things and if I were at home I would totally be doing them. But if I’m here and I have idle time it can sometimes be hard to get motivated to get into the studio and work. At the end of a painting day I’m pretty beat and I like to just come home and a have a beer and chill. Sometimes all I need is an hour and later in the evening I’ll have a session where we record guitars or something like that. It’s all an exercise in getting your brain switched over. I can be really tired but as soon as I come down here I can get into the zone and do this work. But during the day when I’m working on someone’s house I don’t want to be there. I want to be here. One thing that has been good is that painting gives you time to think about being creative. The challenge is to come home, see it through, and make that commitment.

Painting is a really structured job. No matter if you’re stripping and re-staining someone’s kitchen cabinets or rolling walls out or painting the outside of someone’s house, it’s a series of steps and it’s the same thing with recording a song. You have to start with your foundation, get everything ready before you can put all the toppings on. You do all your prep work and start painting. You mic up the drums and make sure everything is alright, get it tracked and start overdubbing and all the fun stuff that goes on top of it. So there is a parallel in the work flow, but that can apply to anything. But painting has been a great exercise in efficiency because I’m painting just to make money, so you learn how work quickly and orderly and be as efficient as responsible as possible and I try to apply that down here. It helps keep me focused and stay on task, I guess that’s the closest parallel. Whether you’re painting a house or you’re trying to maintain a creative flow, don’t get distracted, stay the course and keep the project moving.

Have you always had this work ethic?

I’ve been a really diligent and loyal, really dependable worker. My first job ever was pumping gas at a gas station then delivering pizzas, but I’ve always showed up when I’m supposed to and I work hard, I like working hard, I like feeling tired at the end of the day. I haven’t had to learn a work ethic, I’ve always kind of had one. A lot of times what I think about during the day is what I’d rather be doing with my life rather than painting. I feel like my biggest challenge in life is trying to find my niche. I’ve sort of been carving one out for myself, but I mean, painting is difficult on my body, it’s toxic, it’s good honest work but I don’t really feel like it’s me, but maybe that really shouldn’t matter, I’m paying the bills and keeping a roof over my head.

Drews in his everyday work-wear.

Drews in his everyday work-wear.

Do your painting clients know about your music career?

I don’t really divulge that to my clients. I have a lot of repeat customers and if I have a relationship with one of them that I’ve had for a while and we’re beyond just chatting about the paint job, then they’ll learn little bit about me. I kind of keep that side of me private as far as my painting customers go. I don’t come out and broadcast that I play in a band, because it’s like “Of course you do, that’s why you’re painting houses!”

So your job reflects the commitment toward your passion for music.

That’s kind of how it is. That’s something I think about all day too when I’m painting. My parents didn’t listen to rock music at all, so I didn’t think adults listened to rock music and I thought at some point that I was just going to outgrow this. I put a limit on myself at one point that at 35, I was going to get serious and get a real job or whatever. I’m almost 41 now and I’m kind of doing the same thing. The one thing I realize is that there is no shame in what I do and I’m pretty proud of it. But you can’t stop making music. I just realized that at some point and I’m not going to quit. My attitude has changed, I’m not concerned about getting signed or making a million dollars, that’s all bullshit. My attitude and my goal is to have just as much fun with it as possible and keep it a very positive element of my existence.

Do you think an artist can become successful and still maintain a day job, or do you have to starve?

I think a real artist is going to be pretty dedicated to what they do, I think they’re going to make time for it in any capacity they can. It all comes down to lifestyle and how simply you can set yourself up to create. That’s the trick, that’s the real challenge and the balance. Things like being in a band: you can’t really have a day job because you have to leave town, but you can be creative about how you make money and have a job that’s super flexible like doing construction work or painting or doing something that’s seasonal. There’s ways to work around it. I don’t think anyone has to starve to do what they really love to do, it’s just a matter of balancing their time.

Do you think day jobs are something an artist can live with?

Yeah, but I think anything can be a day job. I know this guys who does a lot of recording who refers to miking drums and doing basic tracks as hanging sheet rock. You’re going to find tedium in anything you do. It’s always going to be draining in some capacity. I think the biggest thing is keep your overhead low so you don’t have to work as much. If you can live on $500 a month you got it set. You can create opportunities for yourself by just by making adjustments and changes. Having a studio has not only allowed me to record bands but I’ve also been composing for commercial work. Suddenly that’s more income that been happening. It’s diversifying yourself and using the tools you have in as many ways possible. As you’re going through life and you’re laying the bricks in front of yourself, you’re creating opportunities and side paths that will push you a little bit forward. I just try to keep looking ahead.

My goal is to not have to paint. Sometimes I feel really shitty for being a painter. One of the things I think about every day is how I’m going to get out of painting and I honestly have no idea. Recording is a step in the right direction. It’s growing every year, but then you look at other people who are producing and recording full time and they’re barely getting by. But at least they don’t have to report somewhere every day and break their back for someone else. There are times when working for yourself can be really stressful when you don’t know when you’re going to work again. When the economy tanked last spring I wasn’t getting any calls. But since I’ve diversified I was able to get that commercial job so that could tide me through another few weeks. In those periods of uncertainty, you really wish you had a real job and worked for a business that gave you benefits and health insurance and a paycheck you could rely on. But I honestly don’t know what I could do to apply to a business that would do that. I’ve cut this path for myself.

You can contact Jonathan Drews for painting or jingles.

Ernest Williamson III, 10/19/2009

Current Occupation: Professor of English
Former Occupation: Research Assistant
Contact Information: Ernest Williamson III has published poetry and visual art in over 220 online and print journals. He is a self-taught pianist and painter. His poetry has been nominated twice for the Best of the Net Anthology. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in English/Creative Writing/Literature from the University of Memphis. Ernest is an English Professor at Essex County College, and is also a Ph.D. Candidate at Seton Hall University in the field of Higher Education Leadership, Management, & Policy.

# # #

A Lady of Preparation

A Lady of Preparation

A Peak Into My Imagination

A Peak Into My Imagination

African-American Pregnant Actuality

African-American Pregnant Actuality

Left Ascension

Left Ascension

The Colors of the Music Dancer

The Colors of the Musical Dancer

Work, Love & Music

Work, Love & Music

TGI Friday’s, 10/12/2009

The most important part of the T.G.I. Friday’s experience is the bartending culture. Bartenders are trained to juggle bottles like Tom Cruise in Cocktail. There is a sense of time suspension when the bartenders run a routine. By suspending time, T.G.I. Friday’s guarantees you, the customer, will prolong your stay and order more snacks, meals and drinks. By promising laughs at the expense of staff, T.G.I. Friday’s delivers on its corporate promise to tickle your Friday funny bone regardless of the day of week. To induce a sense of timelessness, staff are required to wear the red and white striped prisoner uniform which is part of T.G.I. Friday’s signature experiential gimmick (and a tawdry rip-off of Edwardian soda shop sensibilities).

Another part of the experiential gimmick is the language T.G.I. Friday’s uses to describe itself. The company lures young employees in with jangly jargon. “Got the spark? The smile? Come on in. It’s more than a favorite day of the week. More than a place to eat and meet. It’s a state of mind. Fun, excitement and great times! They can all be yours here every day, including Friday.” Fragments and abstract verbs appeal to young minds while the deliberately choppy grammar slips, mimicking everyday speech. The goal is to seduce potential employees into thinking the job will actually be less of a job and more of a party. But underneath the easy-going copywriting are the coded phrases of corporate America:

“An attitude of serious showmanship and an interest in keeping it light fuels us with energy and drive. It’s a culture credited with naming happy hour, ‘happy hour,’ and inventing Long Island Iced Teas and Loaded Potato Skins. For real.”

Energy, Drive, Showmanship. These are the terms of many a job description.

There seems to be a correlation between how demeaning and low-paid a job is and how over-inflated and jazzercised the description. Look under the Job Search tab and you’ll see: “Job? Whatever. More like an opportunity to rock.”

Yeah, right.

T.G.I. Friday’s is a business revolving around serving an experience. It’s a contemporary Schlaraffenland where all the servants are slap-happy to serve you. Without the exuberant staff, T.G.I. Friday’s is merely a dressed-up corporate burger joint: recycled ketchup bottles and ammonia-rinsed beef. It’s worth pointing out that nearly every T.G.I. Friday’s in the Pacific Northwest region (and many across our fine nation) has closed due to alleged mismanagement over the past year.

As could be expected for a minimum wage job, the application is formulaic: hours available, have you been fired or convicted of crime, do you have any education, please list your previous employers.

In compensation for synchronized juggling of liquor bottles, exuberant customer service, and the occasional ketchup-on-prison-shirt accident, the franchise does provide some benefits for full-time staff such as healthcare, life insurance, 401(k), tuition reimbursement and more – including some benefits that aren’t really benefits like direct deposit and something called “work-life balance.” Certainly for some sound minded extroverts serving or bartending through T.G.I. Friday’s obsessive party experience agenda makes for a great employment.

Part of the description for Bartending at T.G.I. Friday’s is this: “Makes guests feel welcome and is attentive to them at all times. Totally great.” The bartending performance is a big part of the appeal to patrons of T.G.I. Friday’s. The company puts such pressure on the entertainment aspect that they even made an international bartending competition. The current world champion is Keisuke Goto whose trademark move is juggling shaker, bottle, and the hat off his head.

Maybe after a year of bartending at T.G.I. Friday’s a person could move to Amsterdam and take up busking. It’s understood that Rembrandtplein allows rotation of busking shifts and, frankly, any juggler will beat the pants off any stinky ol’ didgeridoo player.

With approximately 75 staff members at each location, T.G.I. Friday’s had the potential to employ thousands and thousands of talented individuals. Now that the franchise has seen some hard times and wide-spread closures, perhaps fabricating an experiential gimmick can become an antiquated ideal that future companies will avoid. (JMM)

Melodie Barker, 10/12/2009

Current Occupation: Domestic Engineer
Former Occupation: Accountant
Contact Information: Melodie Barker lives in Flint, Michigan with a clowder of cats and her family. Her poetry has been published in Yellow Medicine Review, Gutter Eloquence, The Shantytown Anomaly, Tales of the Unanticipated, and Sage Woman. She frequents Facebook and lolcats when not working on her M.F.A. from Pacific University.

# # #

Earth Girls Ranch on Mars!!!

When I was little I didn’t tell my mother

that I wanted to be a sex worker on Mars.

It just happened. I don’t mind sucking antennae,

easing the throb of indigo uvulas, massaging

magenta tentacles. The credits are good.

They like to buy me Cokes at the house bar

to watch me swallow acid. And chewing ice

triggers their skin to undulate with iridescence.

But what freaks them out is the zip

of batteries in my Hello Kitty vibrator.

At my mother’s luncheons, when her friends ask

about me and Mars, she tells them I’m fine

and tutoring English. I guess she never discovered

the worlds are better when we all get off.

Emilie Lindemann, 10/12/2009

Current Occupation: writing instructor
Former Occupation: cashier, women’s clothing department clerk
Contact Information: Emilie Lindemann is a Ph.D. candidate in English-Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her poems have appeared in Columbia Poetry Review and the Blue Canary.

# # #

Two for One Panties

Suddenly all the post-menopausal women in the city have run out of underwear. They stream in on the wide arms of shopping carts to tear back menstrual rainbows. You finger panties–white, nylon, and tent-like that will ride off into the dusk of the parking lot. Full-bodied stars. You run your fingers over the seams to check for security tags. Bar codes beam ruby rays against your cheek. How is it that you’ve never before longed for more coverage? That, until now, you’ve never wished for supple, seamless sails?