Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Punishment Of Lindas

Surely, thought Carl with alarm, they don't expect me to memorize all this! There had to be at least five pages of rules & regulations. Or, with more annoying alliteration, "policies & procedures," as the fat man with the missing bottom teeth had told him in the tiny HR room where he filled out his paperwork. Jesus God, Carl almost muttered to himself, what you have to do to get a job these days.

"See Linda in room 12," the fat man had said, with a slight whistle, as his tongue pushed unopposed air through the gap in his teeth.

He glanced over the pages of company policy while he waited. Linda, of course, made Carl wait. Lindas were always making Carl wait.

Linda Meyer had been his high school guidance counselor, who had told him sadly that he wasn't "college material." He remembered sitting outside her office, missing lunch, just to have her glance over his grades, his SAT scores, his college applications, & then give him dire predictions about his future.

& Linda Smith, the first girl to kiss him, who made him wait for weeks before he could discover her badly padded bra.

& Linda West - who became Linda Strunk after a short-lived marriage - had been the minor Southwestern poet who had been his graduate advisor while he worked on his abortive master's degree. All those hours, waiting for her to finish some phone call with her fiancee, then later her ex-husband or her lawyer, they had worn him out. He had loved Robinson Jeffers so much, now he could barely read his name on a book's spine.

How many Lindas had he waited for his entire life? Linda Murphy, the other Linda Smith, the Linda who ran the dance studio where the Linda he was once married to took her daughter from a previous marriage, the Linda who had the bar who was born in Yorba Linda which is why she was called Linda ("I'm sure glad I wasn't named Yorba!") - his whole life a punishment of Lindas.

Linda Bingham was this Linda's name & she was friendly but curt. With professional perfunctoriness she highlighted the sections of the manual on which he would be tested after his training period. Everything, she said, is in this document, & she directed him to sign several forms.

She stood, asked him to wait, & left the office to get something approved. Linda's office, Carl thought, was tidy & tiny. There were no pictures on her desk, but she did have a corkboard the size of a dinner platter in the far left corner of the room, next to a Ziggy calendar. He didn't want to get up & be caught snooping so he leaned as close as he could from his chair to scan it. The usual cartoons were there - the obligatory Dilbert, of course, plus yellowing Far Side squares - as well as a couple of cards for birthdays or anniversaries. A small rectangle of paper the size of a fortune cookie fortune was the only thing he couldn't read, so he quickly got out of his chair to sneak a look.

It read, simply, "In the Zulu language, the word 'linda' means 'to wait.'"

Carl snapped back to his seat as if drawn by a powerful magnet. He felt like he should have know that fortune cookie fortune fact a long time ago.

& Linda Bingham made him wait twenty-two more minutes until she returned & welcomed him to the company.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The High Cost Of Afternoon Napping

I'm up now! Why do you have to be so loud?

YES I did my radio shows last night. Self Help Radio at 9pm, Dickenbock Electronics at 10:30pm. & I put them up this morning at like I said I would. Then I went back to bed.

Why? Because I was up late & it's a warm & rainy day today. If I had a job, I'd go to work. As it is, it's a nice day for napping.

I'm going back to sleep. Go, go listen to my radio shows. Just, you know, keep it down.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Fifteen Days Later

Self Help Radio returns! A new night! A new time! Same old radio show, though.

Starting tonight at 9pm on WMUL (that's 88.1 on your fm dial), Self Help Radio sits in its summer home for the three hottest months of the year. But if you're not in Huntington, don't worry, the show will be archived by robot pixies tomorrow at This blog will let you know exactly when it's ready for you.

Excited? Look, at least the show's not going to compete with "Lost." That would've sucked.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Whither At What Cost?

There is (was?) a record store in Dallas (it still exists, though not where I used to visit, & here's its website) which was probably the first giant record store I had ever seen. The owner was a puffy middle-aged man with deep set eyes who seemed to be continually surrounded by skinny "new wave" boys.

An aside: when I was in high school, kids who looked like punks or goths or whatever were called "new wave." The wife, who's a decade younger than I am, pointed out some kids at the park yesterday & lamented that that was what they now call "goth." "Goth," she said, "meant something different in my day." But I apparently pre-dated the "goth" label. Suffice it to say, I was never anything but a kind of shambling mess.

This record store was pretty awesome to my high school mind. What seemed like millions of albums arranged alphabetically, on dozens of tables & on the floor, with cool posters (also for sale) all around the giant room. I didn't know or recognize most of them, of course - I gravitated immediately to the Bowie & Elvis Costello sections.

The biggest problem with the store was that there were no price tags. The owner, who was creepy & obviously gay, would simply stand there & you had to hold up what you wanted & ask the price. It became immediately clear that the amount one paid could be negotiated - if you were cute & flirty to the owner, for example, you'd pay less. As an ugly fat kid, I was at a tremendous disadvantage, although I think I once got a discount on an Elvis Costello import single by joking that I loved him so much I would marry him.

One had to give one's money to the owner, too. No cash register, just handing money & a wallet opened for change. The owner asked a friend of mine once if he could put the change in his pocket for him.

Rumors of course swirled around the alleged pedophile about criminal proceedings, but perhaps he was able to either keep his liaisons secret or he had some self-control. He seems to be doing fine now.

I only went to the store a few times in high school, & rarely returned once I went to college, although I did take my nephew to the place perhaps when he was in high school, which would have been in the mid to late 90s. I can't remember if prices were labelled at that point. But the "bartering" aspect of the store, with my own meager funds as a high school student, eventually made me come to loathe the store, despite its selection.

I just prefer to know what something costs up front.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Preface To At What Cost?: The Price Of Obscurity!

In recent correspondence with Mr. Elmer Comma of the Latin American division of World Canadian Surprises, Mr. Augustine Stained had this to say, painstakingly typed out in a text message when clearly some abbreviation was in order:

To any and all sundry concerned, I must needs forsooth express extreme displeasure at recent events notwithstanding the overall profit margin in relation to certain we must admit ill-conceived and indubitably ultimately self-defeating measures implemented with regard to earthquakes in Chile & Haiti as well as but not necessarily influencing financial disasters concomitant to and created by the current British Petroleum so-called oil leak which stands to affect our bottom line and the earning potential of the myriad programs in the pipe (no pun intended) for the expansion of our Caribbean division, overseen by not only Mr. Comma but also several people in our British Ecuadorian office who have of course been carbon-copied on this text message. In furtherance of both opportunity-seeking as well as damage control I have scheduled for four p.m. today a conference call using only the most inclusive and cutting-edge of technology so please confirm your attendance for the server boys. Yours sincerely, Mr. Augustine Monroe Stained, Senior Vice-President for Catapults and Conviviality, World Canadian Surprises, North American Polar Ice Cap Division. Please forward.

This test message was not read by any of the people to whom it was ostensibly sent; however, the crime fiction author & National Public Radio commentator Mr. Morton Smug spent a full thirteen minutes reading it with undetectable emotion on an episode of "This American Life" to be aired in the fall.

Mr. Augustine Stained continues to write long messages using only his iPhone & possibly a thesaurus, unaware that he was fired two years ago when the offices where he was supposedly working fell into the Arctic Sea, the glacier on which the office was built (on Mr. Stained's recommendation) having sunk overnight. Mr. Stained had begun working from home on that day. He enjoyed it so well that he chose never to return, which saved his life, although the current glacier on which he built his dream house will probably be gone in the next two years.

He in unaware of any lawsuits pending. He is still waiting for the 4pm conference call to begin.