Month five of unemployment. This is about the time you start to realize you should do things like finally read Shantaram because, well, you’ve got a lot of hours to spend with a 900-something page book about an ex-heroin addict/convict who goes on a spiritual journey. I mean, there are only so many hours you can fill writing, planning, looking for jobs (that sucks up about five minutes per day), and making weird concoctions to eat for lunch. And you can’t really take classes when you’re unemployed because, well, classes cost money usually, and the EDD gets suspicious when you engage in potentially threatening activities like paying to learn things. I am trying to learn how to play guitar (I pay in beer, not bills. Take that, EDD spies!), but I don’t own an axe yet so I’m relying on Sunday sessions with my patient friend Tony, who lets me use his electric guitar, while he slums with his acoustic. Thanks Tony! “Night Moves” sounds better with an amp — it drowns out all my mistakes and makes me feel super cool. I appreciate that delusion at this time.
I truly wish I was a TV watcher, and that even watching award-winning black and white movies at home in the daylight hours didn’t make me feel guilty. I did attempt to “get into” golf and watch this PGA tour, since this whole Tiger Woods fucking up his swing thing is actually pretty psychologically riveting. But having golf on TV during the day works like Ambien on me — a few whispery minutes of the game and I’m zonked. I do love the collective “oooohhh” when somebody does something good (hits the ball real close to the hole or, better yet, gets a hole in one! Yawn). That “ooohh” is so… repressed. It makes me giggle, right before I nod off.
So as I talk smack about TV and feel guilty actually watching the thing (except a few beloved shows here and there: Mad Men, True Blood and Monster Quest are pretty cool) here comes the beer-swilling, temper-throwing Jet Blue employee sliding off the plastic slide and into our collective psyches. This guy isn’t a folk hero. He’s a whiny, possibly mentally imbalanced jerk. I admit that at first his tantrum put a smile on my face but that quickly changed. I mean, yes, he said, “screw you” to The Man… but did he really? Was Jet Blue being real mean to him, cutting his pay, taking away his medical benefits, sexually harassing him, making fun of his red hair like in that M.I.A. video? Doesn’t sound like it. And I’ve worked in a lot of restaurants and dealt with a LOT of unbelievably obnoxious assholes that I would have loved to have doused with their fancy cocktails and drenched in their lobster sauce, but that little voice would always stop me: “Bite your tongue, smile, get a big tip, take their money.” The worst were the people that would come eat in the super fancy San Francisco steak house I worked in, and very rudely demand something vegan. Um. It was famous for STEAK. The black-Amex-toting meat eaters were always so much cooler than the black-Amex-toting vegans (and I was a vegetarian at the time).
Hit the Jump to continue reading Bureaucracy for Breakfast vol. VIII, or “Dumb As a Fox”…
I also remember sitting at the conference table at my last job — the one that sent me on this long, long vacation that I’m experiencing — listening to the CEO berate everyone at the table, white knuckling it, trying to slow my breath, feeling my face practically burst into flame (after one of these meetings my supervisor actually pulled me aside and, laughing, said, “Are you OK? I could actually feel the heat coming off of you.” I should probably invest in Beta blockers for times like those. Russian temper.) It took everything in me not to walk out of that conference room, but I knew the economy outside of our seemingly safe high rise sucked, so I held on for dear life. Maybe that’s bad. Maybe the red headed stranger that stuck it to Jet Blue is smarter than me. Now he’ll either go to jail (maybe he’ll read Shantaram with all that downtime) or become a millionaire. I mean, he’s got a publicist and stuff now; he’s living the American dream!
My strong reaction to the Jet Blue maniac got me thinking that, honestly, maybe all these reality show people I make fun of (The Situation, Heidi Montag and Spencer “creepy” Pratt, the Kardashians) are way smarter than I am and smarter than all of us who work long hours just so we can maybe squeeze in a trip to a Sandals resort before we die. The Situation supposedly is gonna make five million dollars this year. That’s five MILLION. For being a total, complete, peerless tool. Granted money isn’t everything, and integrity is, like, majorly important and all, but c’mon people. I’m starting to think I would be OK acting like an idiot on TV in front of millions FOR millions. That way I could tell Sallie Mae to suck it, and that, believe you me, would be worth risking my integrity, anonymity and pride.
A lot has changed in just a few short months. I couldn’t bring myself to even audition for that Jerry Springer dating show back in the spring, and here I am, thinking that I might just sign a consent form in blood if it meant I could potentially be rolling in the dough. My wise Southern mother once taught me a phrase that I will now apply to all these reality show tools: DUMB AS A FOX. When she first said it, it was because I was making fun of Jessica Simpson, back when she had her reality show on MTV. Remember, Jessica and her ex-hubby lived in a McMansion and lounged around in their bathing suits whining about whether they should dine at Hooters or PF Chang’s that evening? In this one episode, Jessica was saying something really, truly ridiculous about tuna vs chicken. I made fun of her, and my mom shot back, “Oh honey, Jessica Simpson is dumb as a fox.” Hmmm. Maybe she was right.
In any case, one of my sisters recently talked me into applying to one such unnamed reality show extravaganza that involves roses, proposals and lots of ink in publications like People and Us Weekly. So I went on their website, and dammit I applied. Granted, as I did on my application to the Jerry Springer show before I fled the waiting room in terror, I embellished the truth a wee bit. I didn’t say I collected taxidermy bugs this time — that fits for Springer, but it would certainly not fit for a show about Ken-doll men choosing which female to mate with. For the question, “Why are you interested in being on ____?” I refrained from writing, “Because I want to be dumb as a fox and get money for being a total tool on TV in front of millions of people. I want to sell out!” Instead I wrote, “I want to find true love and I think this could be a great way to do that.” Heehee, how sly am I? Jessica Simpson would be proud, I think.
So now I wait and see. I did admit to my wise Southern mother that I had applied, and that I want to be dumb as a fox like Jessica. Her reply? “I don’t give a damn! You’re a writer not an idiot!” We’ll just see about that…
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