Charles Rammelkamp, 5/16/2016

Current Occupation: Retired
Former Occupation: Technical Writer and Teacher
Contact Information: I am the Prose Editor for  BrickHouse Books, in Baltimore.  Also I edit an online literary journal called the Potomac – not that I make a dime from either of these activities, so they fall into that limbo of hobby/work.  Not sure where writing falls in that limbo since I do sell the occasional copy of published books.  Speaking of which, my latest, MATA HARI: EYE OF THE DAY, was published in 2015 by Apprentice House (Loyola University), and another, AMERICAN ZEITGEIST, is forthcoming from Apprentice House as well.



Information Technology


“Two all-beef patties?” the man responded, bemused. “Yeah, a Big Mac.  What’s that for?”

He meant the question, but I ignored him, checked the box on the form on the clipboard I carried.

This is what census-takers must feel like.  But I worked for a temp agency (Kelly Girls; I was a Kelly girl! It always made me smile when people asked me what I did and I said I was a Kelly Girl.)  I’d been assigned to do a survey in advance of the release of an animated film about Jesus, or maybe it was Moses, that was being released around Christmas, another five months from now.

“Okay. Did you know that ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is one of the Ten Commandments?”

“No shit,” the guy marveled.  News to him.  “No, I didn’t know that.  What’s that got to do with McDonald’s?”

I checked the box and shrugged slightly.

Ten dollars an hour.  This assignment would last most of a week, and then I’d move on, like some sort of Lone Ranger figure.  I liked these temporary gigs.  You can tolerate anything for a little while, if you’re being paid for it. I didn’t have a boss leaning over my shoulder.  I didn’t even have to shave if I didn’t want to, but I had anyway.

I’d already checked this guy’s responses for “some college,” “30 – 40 age range,” “$60,000 – $75,000 salary range.”  There was no box for polo shirt, chinos, or running shoes, but he did say his field was “Information Technology,” and I had him pegged for a computer programmer.

“Presbyterian,” he answered my next question, “but I don’t really belong to any church.”


2 comments on “Charles Rammelkamp, 5/16/2016
  1. A very funny story, and true to the experience of temp workers.

  2. Jan Priddy says:

    My husband temporarily worked for the census. Now that years have gone by, he still has associations with places he walked up to while gathering data. “That place was scary. I could smell meth,” he will say. “That house has a mezuzah.” “There was a computer sitting in its box on the porch of that one soaked from when it rained a few days before.” “Those people had at least three cats.”

    Any hourly job can be like the one in this story. But even when I worked terrible part-time jobs for people I didn’t like, the temptation was to figure it out: What is the goal? Why do it this way? Is there a better way to make/sell/promote this widget?

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