Thursday, December 10, 2009

Return of the Random

My to-read list is starting to piss me off. It grows and grows, gaining mass, strength, and force while I grow older and more tired. Look at these gray hairs, people!

Recent additions:

Javier Marías – A Heart So White
Roque Dalton – Clandestine Poems
Julián Ríos – Larva: A Midsummer Night’s Babel
G. Cabrera Infante – Mea Cuba
Thomas Bernhard – Correction
Witold Gombrowicz – Pronografia
The poems of Zbigniew Herbert
César Aira – Ghosts
The poems of Juan Gelman
The poems of Herberto Padilla

There are more, many more, but that’ll do for now.

Christ, what’s a guy who works three jobs to do?


Speaking of jobs:

My first gig was working at PPS Presort, now operating at a much bigger level and under a new name. The job was low paying, easy, monotonous and definitely the kind of place that warrants a full length story (look for it someday). I quit that job and took one as a barcoder, which, as the name suggests, required me to spray bar codes on junk mail. Dull, very dull. It seems I could not get away from working with mail. Eventually I quit that job, got rehired at PPS and gave them a few more of my days before pulling up south-side stakes and relocating to DePaulville.

My first job there was at the Phonathon, a miserable place wherein I had to hit up bemused alumni and ask for donations. Imagine the laughs and curses. I was temporarily let go when the operation stopped for the summer. Soon I left the University and was thus not eligible for employment there (or, really, anywhere).

I was rather good at that job, by the way, and once did get someone to donate a thousand bucks. Isn’t that something!

Then I got the job at the bookstore, which remains my favorite. I’ve spoken enough about that before, so let’s move on.

Around 12 years ago, I decided that I should join the ranks of the office working, weekend warrior assholes who commute on the subway to the Loop and whittle away eight-to-ten hours a day in cubicles under fluorescent lights and alongside annoying fucks with constant requests along the lines of “can you make me a copy of this?” as if they don’t know how to operate a Xerox machine, which may be possible considering their lack of aptitude in most respects, though I really think they are just petty little bitches who will utilize any opportunity they can to issue orders, micromanage, and make life in such an environment a stiff stick in the eye. The first of these jobs was at the ol’ MCHC. While I did many an admin level task, my main responsibility was to schedule courier pick-ups and drop-offs. I also had to—ha ha ha—sort mail. Eventually my manager (a real bloodless witch) decided I could also serve as a telemarketer. She had me contacting doctors across the country, pitching her soon-to-be-obsolete POS Medicare machines. Few bit and none bought.

I left that position because I hated telemarketing and did not want to do it anymore. I had, years earlier, taken a job in a call center that I also left for the same reason. I realized then that I simply disliked talking on the phone, especially to strangers.

My next job of significant note was at the first of the two law firms. I started out in a very low key position filing claims. It was boring work, true, but easy, steady, and not one that would cause me to stay up nights. I excelled at the task and was soon promoted to a higher position at the firm, one that, many assured me, was more fitting a man of my stature, whatever that is. I was the sole member of the New Case Department. Well, I had an assistant, but still… it was basically just me meeting with attorneys and talking on the phone, all day everyday, to the sick, dying, wounded and litigious. Somehow I was again tied to a telephone.

I quit. I got a new job at a new firm. I managed to stay off the phone for a number of years, but somewhere around 2006 my responsibilities changed and I found myself on the phone again (cue Willie Nelson), talking to people—or, I should say, listening to them complain. I also open all the mail, then stamp, sort, and distribute it. Not quite as bas as the old mail gigs, but still… mail and phones are my collective albatross.

Better: mail and phones are the herpes I cannot rid myself of—lifelong reminders of the cost of folly.

If anyone were to ask me why I went back to school, why I pursed a higher degree, or why I started teaching, I could answer that I did so because I love literature, or because being an English major was the only thing I was ever good at, or maybe I might affect nobility and say that I wanted to give back to a new generation what that one important teacher gave to me. The real reason I went back to school was to one day get a job that did not require me to sort mail or answer the goddamn phone every two minutes.


Cassandra made papas con huevos last night. The leftovers are doing me good right about now. Ah… sipping some green tea with it and looking forward to dark chocolate. Life doesn’t seem so bad at the moment.

Let’s end on a positive note for a change.