What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Monday, August 13, 2007

You did what?

As most of you are probably unaware, I recently procured gainful employment. In an effort to reform my derelict self and prove to the world that I can actually perform meaningful and productive labor tasks at the directive of an employer, I joined the ranks of the California work force. A couple weeks ago, I began my position as Assistant Cereal Technician for General Mills (Or is it Assistant to the Cereal Technician? I get the two confused).

I still live with my parents, sleep in my clothes, take extended shaving, shower and general cleanliness vacations, skip class, make crank calls and generally behave like a poorly adjusted derelict, but now I have a job.

My job requires me to stare at hundreds of thousands of bite sized chunks of Wheaties cereal and watch for any irregularities like rampant mold and fungi, discolored clumps, soggy morsels or, and this is particularly disturbing, pieces of uncooked human and animal flesh. If I see anything, I write it down and make a report of my findings in the evening. If the problem is especially egregious, I have a button that sends my boss a signal asking him to come down and scoop the offending material off the conveyor belt. Most of the time, though, he just lets things go by.

My boss is a stickler about alerting the media and he does all the talking when the health inspectors arrive, which has been only once so far, but that visit was precipitated by more job training than I had had to that date. My technical job description reads "batter mixer," but really I'm the last barrier between you and the Wheaties microbes.

Breakfast of champions, my pinkie finger. Don't think about that too hard.

While this new job cuts a terrible blow to my idle time, it has some distinct advantages. First, I get free cereal. I can take home for myself anything I flag as below General Mills' impossibly ignoble quality standards. Second, the pay is really good for a job that has me doing little more than sleeping in front of a conveyor belt.

The strangest thing about working all day is coming home to discover all the things that are different about your life. It's one thing to be away at school during the winter and spring months, but family life can change radically in the weeks before school begins.

The other evening I came home after a slow day at work, pulled my wallet and keys out of my pockets and plopped down at the dinner table to wolf down a few bites of suspicious cereal. Reginald, a family friend who uses our house as shelter from the elements, wondered into the room and made an announcement:

"I spent over fifty bucks today on clothes."

"Goodness, Reginald!" I sputtered from behind a moldy chunk. "That's more money for clothes than I will probably spend the rest of my life, unless of course these jeans tear. What on earth were you getting?"

"A red scarf." My curious look prodded him to continue and he added: "For the YCL meeting on Friday."


"Young Communists League." I stopped chewing, allowing an unidentified food-like object to slip through my slack jaw and into my bowl with a plop. A communist, in my own house? Was being a communist the in thing these days or was Reginald being an outlier?

"Yeah. Anyway, I'll need your car again tonight."

"Again?" I didn't recall giving permission for the first time.

"Oh, you hadn't heard? I took Luce out the other day. You know Luce, right?" Click, bang. In my mind, Reginald was pasted against the wall with a .45 slug between his eyes. Luce wouldn't go out with me but she would be seen in public with this good for nothing Commie? I would definitely be calling Luce about this. But wait, she'd prohibited that. I was stuck. Reginald and Luce would get married and have a dozen little commies. They would take over the earth and establish a new world order. I would be their Godfather and have to reign in my emotions every time I saw the two of them together.

No longer hungry, I pushed my food aside and answered, "yes, I know Luce."

Reginald forged ahead. "Sorry about your pants."


"The grass stains should come off with the application of a little force and detergent, but those grease stains are there to last."

I looked down at my pants and noticed for the first time that my best pair of jeans had been ruined. I hadn't noticed the problem when I put the pair on in the morning but now I could clearly see streaks of green and black laced across them. I'd been at work all day and nobody had said anything.

"Reginald?" I leaped forward to seize the derelict in front of me who had abused my absence to toy with my life. He dodged deftly and ran for the door, swiping my keys with him. A few moments later, I heard the soft roar of my car and the crash of our neighbor's trash can as he sped away, probably to join Luce at the young communists meeting.


Christopher Yerziklewski said...

Oh man, I'm sorry man. That one hurts pretty deep.

Anonymous said...

Thats why I said you do not know anything that is going on in my life!