Faulkner in the fields

One of the two caterwauling Robin Thicke wannabes at work collaterally assaulted me the other day by chasing a kid he was bullying around the end of a row and up the aisle where I was working, straight into my immediate work area. It was painfully obvious that he acted with criminal intent to assault his target and didn’t give a shit that I was in his path. That isn’t how he conceived of it, but that’s because he’s a thug who thinks that he has a civil right to throw his weight around and bully pussies however he pleases. What provoked this assault was pathetic: dude was salty that his target was poaching a distant, heavily cropped part of his row instead of staying on his assigned row. It was a fucking territorial dispute.

I read Thicke Bro the fucking riot act about getting physically aggressive with other employees and told him that I would call the police if he laid a finger on me. What rattled me about the aftermath of this assault, though, was that his primary target defended him, telling me that he was “just joking around” and couldn’t have meant any harm because he was smiling. I’d seen the fucker smiling, but I wasn’t about to tolerate that piece of shit assaulting two innocent coworkers just because he misdirected us with facial expressions contradicting his unmistakably belligerent body language.

I couldn’t tolerate an emotionally abused kid defending a workplace bully who had just assaulted me as well, but I also got really uncomfortable with how upset I was getting with this mark, who was obviously an innocent traumatized wimp who felt boxed in, literally and figuratively, between me and this guy he was going to have to face again and again; the guy who assaulted us is either family or a close peer-level family friend, although I couldn’t follow which. Worse, I was afraid that this situation would escalate to additional assaults, all too likely including batteries, if I stuck around that day, and I did not want to be put in a position of having to physically restrain Thicke Bro and risk being investigated for assault myself. So I left the property, wrote an advisory email to the sheriff’s department, and then contacted my bosses with a copy of the advisory email and some additional information on what had happened and what else I was afraid might happen as a consequence.

This turned into a three-hour time sink over a couple of two-minute workplace confrontations, but I thought it prudent to formally document what had happened and, more importantly, to eliminate any risk that our bully boy thought I might be bluffing about calling the cops. I know the type. A man of his character may despise a victim who tattles to authority figures for being a pussy, but he’ll fear one who has been in touch with the police, because he knows that the next move may result in his own arrest. These guys are not all that principled at heart. They talk a loud game about manly honor and shit, but when push comes to shove, they will not stand up to vicarious assertions of power on behalf of their victims by authority figures with arrest powers. Besides, they never abide by standards of honor themselves. If they did, they wouldn’t physically bully other people at work over territorial disputes that they started in a fucking berry field.

This may sound like a Story Whore submission about my trauma, a passion play in which I will shortly don my Vietnam Veteran trucker hat (that breathable plastic, tho), pull the list of PTSD symptoms out of my breast pocket, and let me tell you about it. There’s a government disability pension waiting at the far end of that rainbow of lies for anyone who doesn’t colossally fuck up his own story, so it ain’t me, Lawd, at $5.50 an hour gross on a good day it ain’t fuckin’ me. Nor do I want to exaggerate how upsetting or scary the actual assault was. That one bad act isn’t what still has me rattled half a week later, not when I’d gotten through to my homie that Five-O would be driving Miss Daisy down to Albany in chains for being a bad girl if he ever did anything of the sort to me.

What still rattles me about this situation is the cultural context that enabled it. This dispute did not arise and escalate to the point of assault in a cultural void. If one two-bit thug who made it past my bosses’ normally sound gut check at the time of hiring assaults me and another picker out of the blue, I can have my pushy boi policed up on short order. Honestly, I assumed all along that the guy was just a bit of a clownhatting dipshit with a questionable idea of how to dress for work, and then suddenly he assaulted us, so I don’t see what the In-Laws, who spent much less time around him, could have detected in the way of warning signs.

Similarly, if Thicke Bro’s fellow Thicke Bro is too codependent, verbally combative, and generally off for me to tolerate any more of his caterwauling after this incident, he’s just one bad member of an otherwise good crew, and I can make sure that he isn’t given the opportunity to get up in my face about how I did his buddy bogus. In this case, I’ve already gotten both of these guys fired. This is a power that I don’t feel comfortable possessing, let alone exercising. Calling the police for assistance fending off threats to one’s safety or welfare is appropriate for anyone who trusts the responding agency and its officers enough to make the call, but getting people fired somehow just seems much more extreme.

Neither of these guys seemed capable of basic, normal self-control in a professional setting, and one of them committed an unprovoked physical attack that nearly turned outright violent just to throw his weight around with a less assertive coworker, but still, getting people fired is an awesome power that is all too wantonly abused these days by drama queen shitheads who want to make a point about some moral panic they’re having and don’t care if they get a well-meaning person branded with the scarlet letter in the process. Adria Richards getting the dongle guys fired for being sexually crude (must have been a damn boring meeting for that to rise to the level of humor) and the internet mob going after Justine Sacco for making a comment about white people not getting AIDS while she was in the air because they were vicariously offended on behalf of all black Africans were cases of puritanical assholes throwing their weight around, with consequences much worse than the average non-contact workplace assault.

These boys are gone, and good riddance. But here’s where things get really fucking tricky and weird. The kid who was the target of that assault is presumably still on staff, and I’ll be floored if he developed the backbone to stand up to the two-bit thug peers in his life over the weekend. Normally I try to live by the Prime Directive in my dealings with the locals on the job, unless they open up to me to an extent convincing me that they aren’t defensively deep in the country authoritarian bullshit. This case isn’t normal: a bullying victim was adamantly defending a guy who had just assaulted me and saying that he had done nothing wrong, and it’s bloody obvious that he was defending the thug because he was scared of the guy and didn’t want more trouble. I might as well try to reason with a codependent victim of domestic violence about how her husband really is incorrigible wifebeating trash. I come to Oregon to pick fruit, not to do high-stakes social work as an amateur who’s half on/half off the clock. And to scavenge deposit bottles. Chaka Can, Chaka Can, I’d rather not feel for any of this horseshit, Chaka Can.

On top of this, all of which is already a huge mess, we’ve got an ambient religious environment that I really don’t want to criticize at work but which seems to be causing more harm than good. Few of the people involved with that farm are not evangelical Christians. I’ve known a few pickers who haven’t said anything about their religious affiliations but seemed to be something along the lines of sporadically churchgoing Main Line Protestants or Catholics. As a churchgoing Catholic myself, I don’t generally feel like, uh, coming around and talking it over (Is Wilsonville far away? Don’t answer it if you think I care), because that potentially means arguing about evangelical practices and beliefs that have been misattributed to Catholicism by evangelicals who’d rather pretend that there aren’t any disputes over, say, praying for the dead. (How do you spell that, Captain Queenan? “Depotted?”)

We were already dealing with an ongoing but low-level threat of an uncalled-for, pain-in-the-ass cultural exchange that has no business arising in the workplace but does anyway because we’ve got a bunch of kids in the mix who don’t understand that they were not raised in the only mainstream American culture. With this assault, though, we’ve now got the public evangelical piety of a timid bullying victim, a minor who got upset when I tried to stand up to his bully even though his bully had assaulted me, too. Hey, that’s a hashtag! Let me pull out this list of symptoms and TELL you about my trauma!

I’m not inferring anything. The target of this assault previously told me and another picker that he would be taking a week off later in the season because “I have to go to something called Moody.” This has to refer to a vacation bible school affiliated with the Moody Bible Institute. This kid is being raised under the auspices of a religious community that is failing to protect him from grievous bullying or teach him how to respond effectively to mistreatment by peers. He goes to VBS, he probably goes to weekly Bible studies, he almost certainly goes to church at least once a week, and he got upset with me for pulling rank as an adult on an out-of-control peer of his who had just assaulted both of us.

This strongly suggests to me that he’s recently been under the authority of adults acting under church auspices who knowingly allow bullying on their watch and make excuses for it. As much as I don’t want to get sucked into any bullshit cultural exchange over Catholicism versus evangelical fundamentalism or whatever, I’m very much of a mind to lower the boom on any congregation that even toys with making excuses for its adults’ or older teens’ failure to police bullying under its auspices. Church needs to be a safe space for the vulnerable, and that means that those holding its authority cannot be a bunch of excuse-mongering derelicts. This is basic adult supervision. It should go without saying, but there are some real dipshits and more than a few abusers (mostly emotional, I’d guess, but occasionally sexual) who use congregational authority to throw their weight around and aggrandize themselves. We just can’t be allowing children, or God forbid adolescents, to establish a pecking order like chickens. This is not a fucking barnyard.

In this context, the prissy squeamishness of so many Christian conservatives around crude language doesn’t come across as a mildly annoying foible but as a rank, damning expression of predatory hypocrisy. As far as I can tell, the guy who assaulted us is unchurched or the next thing to it, although I’m basically reading the tea leaves here. His codependent buddy got hit by a car and lives out in the woods, where he’s been ministered to and resocialized by a community of tweakers who hang out in front of the corner store down the street from the railroad bridge. I’m not making any of this up, and I’m 100% sincere and descriptive, not trying to make light of any of this, when I say that I think this fellow may have sustained untreated brain damage in the accident. There was something unusually disinhibited about his manner of speech that I don’t think can be fully explained by his club bro act, and he told us that he is still frequently in physical pain from the accident months later. He routinely interrupted others with abrupt, sometimes off-topic questions that he asked without normal volume modulation. I’m thinking maybe a Phineas Gage situation, and I mean this seriously.

So we’ve got this guy trying to recover from being hit by a car while he’s camped out down by the river most of the time, when he badly needs housing and could probably use a low-intensity inpatient behavioral health treatment program for whatever all is wrong with his head. Ain’t that America, Mellencamp. So far, so bad, and this looks like a real clusterfuck that no individual or family will be able to resolve with normal acts of charity, but now we seem to have people hanging out in the fray who think that what’s wrong with both of these dudes, Gage Bro and Rage Bro, is that they cuss too much. This is a dire problem, one that I am not exaggerating. American evangelical thought on public morals really, truly is so crude. I’m sure that I’d have an easier time convincing the wimp who was the primary target of the assault that using the Heavy Seven is more problematic than chasing a submissive peer around a hairpin corner at the end of a row over a completely bogus territorial dispute.

To be clear, I do not believe that any of the In-Laws are so foolish; they’re exactly the sort of responsible adult authority figures who are needed but so often missing in situations like this. The problem is that they’re in no position to fix dysfunctional, abusive subcultures that only incidentally overlap with their own much healthier and responsive culture (Mother-in-Law has had her troubles, but she knows that she has and clearly strives to do better). They’ve got this heavily indoctrinated adolescent pushover who refuses to stand up for himself and got upset with me when I stood up for him, apparently because he feared that I’d get him into trouble for going after his bully buddy. Unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of shit show that flares up when timid people who won’t think for themselves are put into environments with authoritarian premises, such as fundamentalist church youth groups. The In-Laws stumbled into this mess in part because the dysfunction of a pathological, ungodly fucked up evangelical community marginal to their own church circles at the closest bled into their workplace at the same time that the dysfunction of Tweaker Hooverville started to wash ashore from the opposite direction.

I can’t fix this horseshit. If I could, I’d be worth $12 an hour, minimum bid. The shit hit the fan and I was suddenly doing the work of a school guidance counselor, completely unpaid, at a job where I’ve never cleared minimum wage for more than maybe fifteen minutes at a time. That isn’t a high enough pay grade for me to put myself smack in the middle between a bunch of prim churchy types who are against swearing, a bullying victim who angrily insists that he wasn’t one, and a thug from the crew whose best friend is fit for outpatient services on Tri-Met.

That doesn’t work. The boundaries are completely fucked. There’s a place for street ministry, but that place is not five yards from where I’m trying to pick fruit. That’s like saying that because a priest hears confessions as part of his ministry he has a duty to be utterly gracious when a crazy bum comes into his rectory garden and throws a shovel at him because he’s the devil while he’s picking tomatoes for dinner. We need to have a different, proper place for those who break into the Governor’s Mansion to flag down the Highway Patrol to shoot the mountain lion that’s been growling from inside that dumpster. No, that’s a poor analogy: dude admitted that, on second thought, he probably imagined the cat. Sometimes the kitty is in the dumpster; other times, the kitty is in one’s head. You know how that happens.

The guy who lives in the woods under the wings of tweakers has a girlfriend who worked with us briefly and said that she might have to leave work early because she didn’t have her schizophrenia meds. She seemed pretty high-functioning, just a bit jumpy and anxious sometimes. She was certainly no Psychotarp or Mixups in my Mind. I have no problem working around people with a history of psychosis who aren’t disruptively symptomatic, and I mean that. The problem is that we’ve got a whole lot of people on the loose in this country with untreated behavioral problems. The better results include Mixups in my Mind or Psychotarp talking nonsense at me for half an hour, which might be okay if I’ve got the time. The worse results include Mixups throwing a wheelbarrow across the parking lot because he’s having a mad.

Have I told you lately that inpatient psychiatric beds facilitate productive economic activity, and that I love you? That last part is bleeding-heart horseshit, but the first part is true, so will I see you tonight? The 72 bus to Clackamas Town Center works, too. Forget about getting Charlie off (CHAHLEE!); at least Charlie knows that he wants to get off and isn’t all like, let me fucking off right here, then standing in the doorway yelling about how he has to get off, then, once he’s finally off, banging on the door trying to get back in, like he’s P. J. O’Rourke’s Anacostia slow boy and he lives there.

Contra the evangelical language police, the problem isn’t with neighborhood bums who go up to Addison and ask whether any of you white motherfuckers want to get on the train for free. That’s, uh, unfare, but that isn’t what’s really wrong with the CTA; does that sound like Rahm Emanuel to you? Okay, maybe a bit. Fat Cracka paid for his ride, by the way. Fat Cracka pays, because Fat Cracka cares. Too much, in fact. It should be my Monday, as they say (yuck), but I’ve already scavenged two deposit bottles today, and that’s work, and $5 to putz around on WES sounds pretty damn appealing right now, because that’s some bitchin’ self-propelled diesel and the Tualatin Valley somehow isn’t nothing but social problems, so I’ll do without anyone who has an Uber account getting up in my face about how that’s too little radical compassion or too much self-care.

Don’t ask me how that became a sentence. Whose tent have YOUR boots been under? There’s no need to ask who I saw in the tent village in front of the charity lunch spot downtown last night, either, or why I walked a full circuit around the Greyhound depot, or why I started the seven o’clock hour in a darkened church sanctuary, waiting for the contemplative mass to begin while I thought about how maybe Pot-o-Shit Friend should have used kitty litter. I’ll understand if Father needs to excuse himself from the altar to find some soap. He might have enough to spare to wash out my mouth, but where does that leave my brain? How, pray tell, can one minister to the Body of Christ when one has such difficulty ministering to the entire head?

God bless. This ain’t mere Christianity; it’s the agony of Gethsemane as farce. Welcome. Take a look around and see what you find. Share it with the congregation if the spirit so moves you, for all are welcome in the meetinghouse that we call life. Lord have Mersey upon us, this sounds like a Mrs. Robinson remix, but Mrs. Robinson didn’t live in the woods with all the bodega tweakers, so do share with us your newest testament of latter-day horrors. I’ve shared worse.

Stay tuned for our next issue, devoted to 4,000 words about how you totally know you’re a 2010’s kid if you’ve ever given thanks that you haven’t been stabbed on MAX.

Advertisements

Another transrachel overproduction of elites

Dolezal is in the doodoo again, this time for welfare fraud. Is this how she’s trying to prove that she’s black?

I looked her up, and sure enough I correctly remembered her new nom de guerre as Nkechi Diallo. Sometimes I wonder whether trivia such as this objectively useless and distracting tidbit will displace useful knowledge about something crucial. I already keep extra hard drive space available by knowing relatively little about movies and sports, except for what I hear from Chicago Senpai and friends on Saturday mornings pursuant to #SPORTS (for which it’s always time), and I have a hella good memory in general, but still I wonder. Is this how Rome fell? Is this how Rome falls?

Today is a gift; that’s why we call it the present. Rachel Dolezal’s initial exposure as a lying white bitch stirred up such a moral panic about bogus black people that assholes online were flaming Wesley Lowery with accusations that he was lying about being black. It’s reasonable to think that he’s racially ambiguous, but he was making a name for himself by doing timely and compellingly important on-the-ground reporting in Ferguson, among other troubled and misgoverned parts of our country. He wasn’t posting photos of fried chicken dinner with the fam online to demonstrate his own blackness, like Shaun King, or, as Firehat called him, noted white boy Shaun King. Everybody in my family back in Kansas ate fried chicken for Sunday dinner, too. Was it because WE were black? I don’t fucking think so. But this is America, and that’s how we think.

I could listen to the Dinner Party Download on my way to go dining for miles and still make Dolezal look white. She’s just an attention whore with a John Boehner tan and a perm. This is probably an episode best left ignored, and so I chronicle it through my most grievous fault, etc. You might as well store up these takes in your cabin, for wintertime heat. On the other hand, our national relationship to race is fucked up in ways that go beyond merely being racist. Racism per se isn’t nearly weird enough. The Morials, a more or less white-passing high yellow family, did business as whites under segregation, then increasingly as blacks under integration. Who dat! I’m not convinced that this is objectively any more reputable than the transrachel bullshit up north. I am entirely convinced that New Orleans is a worse-run city than Spokane. The latter has had its own troubles with public corruption, but Lawdy, Fogerty, down on the fuckin’ bayou, where we was Bonn, ain’t all good what they rollin’ on the Riva.

Asking what the hell gives to allow a bunch of guys from El Cerrito and Phoenix to play Cajun good old boys for fifty years without incident, other than the fucking Heidi Ho lawsuit, is as pertinent as any of this shit. They’re in it for the money, too; it isn’t just the Diallo who didn’t have the adverse reaction with the NYPD.

And since this is a mercenary business, it’s worth asking whether maybe, if we may, blacklisting the likes of Rachel Dolezal for being race frauds doesn’t just encourage more of their bullshit and more imitators who are hungry for the upsides. After all, those who don’t succeed as oppressed white black people can troll for sympathy in the Oppression Olympics as ones who got fired and publicly humiliated for trying to ensure that–the colors are close enough for government benefits–orange is the new black. There’s always wingnut welfare more or less within reach for such cases. Surely it’s good press for one’s GoFundMe.

The crux of this mess is that successfully honky-larping public negritude has the potential to pay better than most trades and professions, and even clumsily doing so and getting into hot water for one’s sheer gall pays better than picking fruit. Hell, I nearly went u-picking Bing cherries today on my day off from commercially picking blueberries, then decided to fuck with it when I discovered that it would be cheaper to buy Rainiers already washed and bagged at Fred Meyer. If Sam Sanders did that, he, too, would become blindingly White, but it’s been a damn minute since I did anything that embarrassing with my plants. I have standards. Maybe not particularly high ones, but good God, y’all. $4.50 a pound to replace a Mexican for an hour.

We’ve got too many fucking people living on their reputations around here. Michael O. Church is spot on about this. Colby Cosh, too. If Gerry Rundel were still plying a trade, he could look at me and say, uh, you’re some douche with a blog, what’re you gonna do, publish a bunch of crappy “songs” about me and call me Midlife Crisis Surf-n-Turf? Duh. What the fuck else would I do? Instead he’s got even worse Mounties calling him a coward, like a fireman who’s afraid of fire. I’m sure that will warm all hearts in the fire services and not at all inspire fond memories of General Sherman heading to the coast to, uh, grill seafood. Don’t forget the Pole!

As much as I enjoy shitposting about Fish Friend, he sounds like a good cop, and because he came away traumatized from personal involvement in a homicide he’s got asshat superiors acting like he’s the missing chickenshit character from Backdraft. The point here is that the reputation management buzzsaw chews up and spits out decent people, too, not just dipshits with perjury convictions and “storytelling” businesses who make it look normal to get trashed and kill motorcyclists with one’s Jeep. One can do that by killing a guy and then going into public health vegetarianism, too. At least Raw Ginger and the Royal Canadian Manslaughter Project are easily racially categorized, every one of them.

So is Rachel Dolezal. She’s white, so, so very White.

Why the hell do I still work for these people?

Sweet fucking hell. I made it through not quite seven workdays and 300 pounds of fruit before Daughter-in-Law’s Husband butted into my fucking business out of nowhere, point-blank asking me where I stay when I come up here. This is, amazingly but truly, worse than anything the Ditzney Princess ever asked me and worlds worse than anything the ADHD spazz kid ever blurted out. The Ditzney Princess was annoying as all hell but never impertinent; our spazzy boi told more than his share of fucked up stories, but they were all really quite harmless to the rest of us as listeners, and mostly fun, too.

Why the hell anyone who runs a goddamn business thinks it’s appropriate to interrogate employees about their housing situations is beyond me. If they’re wondering whether the sprawling piles of junk in all passenger seats and footwells mean that I live out of my car, yeah, Occam’s Razor says that I may be doing that and in no mood to discuss it with meddlesome authority figures. They’ve got all the phone and address information they need in my file. That information is current enough for them to reliably get in touch with me. Jawboning me about where I’m staying night to night has fuck-all to do with that.

If they’re interested because I keep coming in late, I’m almost always the last picker on site every afternoon, and of course they don’t pay any of us enough to compel punctuality. They basically understand this, and there isn’t usually any weirdness about it, but it should go completely without saying that this is not a gift horse that they ought to harass with their clumsy dental tools. Horsey may go chomp-chomp, and horsey may definitely bolt to Newport or Reno or some shit. They know the history, and again, they’re usually pretty tactful about it. But there’s something legit wack about thinking that it’s at all appropriate or reasonable for them, in their immediate and explicit capacity as my employers, to confront me with intrusive questions about my living situation during work hours. That is completely out of line, and anyone who’s thinking seriously about any of this shit knows it.

No amount of general cordiality excuses it. Sure, I’m cool chatting about other things that sometimes have something to do with my life off the farm. If they tell us that they sold out their entire supply at a market, does that mean that I’m in order or the least bit in my right mind to ask them how much they owe on their mortgages? Good God.

I do not feel like being the only party to that relationship with any fucking tact. And I’m not there to teach anyone how to properly respect the homeless or what it means to be homeless or some shit, even if they’d like to learn. There are others they can turn to for that. A horrifyingly large number of them live within a fifteen-minute drive. Certainly my situation is weird, but do I sound like I drove five hundred fucking miles to be jawboned about it by authority figures at a job where my hourly earnings are maxing out at maybe $5.50?

Nothing good will come of discussing any of this in their company. That would be like walking through a wasp-infested blackberry thicket to fish quarters out of Pot-o-Shit Friend’s housewarming gift. If they’ve got any goddamn sense of what anything costs they know full well that no one in their employ is making a meaningful living working for them. Really, I have only financial disincentives to be working for them, or to be most anywhere else in the Willamette Valley, but I’m willing to deal with that and turn a blind eye to all the low-key dodgy shit they do as long as the work conditions are good. Too many damn questions is a case of bad work conditions. At that point, it isn’t just that they’re employing some ten-year-old to sort berries at two dollars an hour under the table. Bogus but not my personal concern I can tolerate. Being questioned about sensitive situations that no one present will do jack shit to fix, I can’t.

Now I’ve got my dad asking me whether I’m sure that I wouldn’t jeopardize my job by asking for a draw against my end-of-season paycheck. Of course they end up hiring people from lineages of overly scrupulous pushovers. If they fire me for asking for a payout roughly in accordance with Oregon wage and hour regulations I can fucking sue them. I’d be floored if they retaliated against me for that, but this is yet another thing that shouldn’t be crossing anyone’s mind as the remotest possibility.

As I keep saying in spite of all the bullshit, this is overall a great place to work because the bullshit is pretty limited and quickly comes to a definitive end. Few enough Americans want these jobs, and probably not hella Mexicans at $.45 a pound, either, that they’re chronically shortstaffed, and I don’t envy them for that. At the same time, it gets awfully tiresome to watch another small business, and a fairly decently run one at that, descend into the land of fucking make-believe. Capital and labor are not best friends, although pretending that they are may do much to explain why the pay grades and compliance with child labor laws are so optional around here.

And this stuff is even worse in context. Everything that I’ve witnessed is the tip of the iceberg for small business owners being fucktarded laws unto themselves. It’s impossible to be observant and informed in these situations and not lose practically all trust in small business to properly regulate itself, or just behave halfway normally. All the self-help literature advises applicants that behaving anything like this around employers is a great way to lose a job and not get another one. I hate to be in-your-face about the leverage I have over the In-Laws, and I’m pretty sure that I succeed in being tactful about it, but I’d be gone, baby, gone if I didn’t have it, and not just for an early weekend of existential dread and fresh seafood in Newport.

It’s Codependency Day all summer long, and sure enough, this ship keeps righting itself (*Leon Bridges, calling down from the bridge* Y’all fools got another ship?), but it is striking just what a ringing indictment of capitalism, even at its smallest and most accountable fractals, this mess is. This is not legitimately about country-ass values: picking a hundred times my fair share of a top-producing state’s blueberries is a rural folkway; asking one’s employees dipshit questions about where they’re staying out of idle curiosity is not. Lose me with that crap. The lion’s share of everything that gets said publicly about running a business or living in the country has to be arrant bullshit, so I’ll be damned to be the only one living in the real world here while King Friday runs payroll on my white ass, and trolley? Cracka you clownin’, ain’t been an operating interurban this side of Chicago since Truman’s time, white boy.

Back to blu, uh, uh, uh

Yeah buddy, I’m on my fucking way. This shit is easier too ex plane hear,,,, On Line, than in meatspace because, for example, if I’m driving from Reno to Eugene or whatever the hell all afternoon and half the night no one demands to know whether I live in Reno. I’d have a straighter answer about where I live if it weren’t so impossible for someone in my circumstances to specifically live somewhere. Sometimes I tell people that I live in Sacramento,  and I does lives there, can I come in, except that I don’t particularly. That’s a simpler position to take, and it’s adequate for the DMV, which refused to take my $181 registration renewal fee on credit today. For people those who don’t need to know but ask regardless, saying that I live in Sacramento opens me up to too many questions about what I do in Sacramento, and as a rule of thumb I damn well do not feel like answering that shit.

Usually I’m able to get the overly inquisitive to take the hint and shut up after I hem and haw with a few sentences that don’t really answer anything or mumble something verging on total gibberish. I’m like Ike, minus the commission (and the salary and the base housing and the Tri Care, baby). There are awfully few people whom it’s worth my while to talk my true story, and I’m not out of line to propose that Americans have a habit of asking too many fucking questions, and consistently the wrong ones.

My circumstances are fairly extreme and unusual, but they are not in fact unique. Close variants of them, especially as they pertain to housing specifically, can account for probably five to ten percent of the US population. That fucking Asian bitch in the Pacific Grove marathon finisher’s T-shirt who told me that I wasn’t homeless when our paths crossed in Elko on our way to the eclipse can take that shit back to the part of California that is about to tumble into the sea, although truly she deserves to live indefinitely in Mountain Home. Even if I’d had the patience to suffer an extended conversation with that fucking cunt-ass health yuppie, I don’t know that I’d have been able to explain to her that homelessness is defined by a lack of stable and suitable housing, and that there are gradations of homelessness, meaning that my being decently dressed and showered when I met her and able to travel in no way negated my homelessness. That’s like handing a bum a Greyhound ticket and saying, look at that, you just stopped being hungry. The worst of this shit does not afflict our common carriers or our highway system. There’s actual competition in transportation, with caveats. Housing is a rent-seeking speculative clusterfuck, a pervasively corrupt business that brings out the worst in the worst people.

Do I feel like explaining any of this to random high school juniors in East Bumfuck, Oregon, just because they’re on a harvest crew with me? Not fucking likely, cracka. Most of them have the good sense and the tact not to push these things, but the few who don’t discourage me from continuing to show up at all, since I’m really not there for the money, either, although no money would mean absolutely no thicc boi honey. God, that sounds like a Cousin Gigolo story, except I have no reason to believe he ever got paid. I’ve actually written very little about most of the busybodies I’ve encountered at the berry farm, since characters like the ADHD spazz kid and the Ditzney Princess are more fun. Even the Ditzney Princess wasn’t one of the busybodies. Ironically, she had maybe the most mature reaction I’ve ever gotten to the Pot-o-Shit Friend story, finding it purely sad, not riotously hilarious as my youth minister friend back east did.

Cousin Gigolo and Pot-o-Shit Friend are threads in (grab at least a five-gallon, for the other end) the tapestry of my life. How would I explain them to prim broad middle-class Evangelicals who refuse to use language as salty as “shit?” Mostly I don’t. Since my work experience is not Cousin Gigolo’s, these stories are not safe for work. Because, let’s be clear about this, I don’t keep going back to this underpaid gig for some unspeakably vapid hipster fuckery or cultural exchange or to do guerrilla ethnography. If I were trying to understand the provincials for some awful reason, I’d make sure that I didn’t constantly have bosses on the periphery. I try not to shit where I eat. I’m not Pot-o-Shit Friend; he’s just this shitty fucking asshole who twinked his way into my life and, can running over, twinked his way back out, his dark legacy indelible on the white plastic of our erstwhile winery equipment. I sure as hell didn’t want that motherfucker around so that I’d have an interesting story to tell; I would more joyfully tell the same story about some other sorry bastard’s family agricultural compound.

If I wanted to tell stories about religiously preoccupied dipshits, I’d deliberately engage with Mormon missionaries. The thing about the cultural exchange and the guerrilla ethnography, though, is that it just falls into my lap. As they say in the Ethiopian diaspora, stuffs happen. That’s more accurate than anything that’s said publicly about immigration, in any event. I’m there to pick fruit. Being all up in the berry bush all summer long is the good shit. Being bothered about the moral necessity to tithe on one’s summer earnings as a minor when the entire family gets free haircuts from their barber friend is not. Horseshit washed-in-the-blood talking points that no one present has thought through are not. I don’t have a prayer of getting through to most of these kids, and I’m not there to do that anyway.

What I’ve overheard of Mother-in-Law’s spirituality is much more thoughtful and interesting, but it isn’t germane. It’s never the people who think in depth about their religious traditions who get pushy or just plain stupid about religion. That’s all too much the case for people who have received authoritarian traditions that they dare not question. If sola fide is the Holy of Holies, that’s a can of worms that I do not feel like opening and I will be of no help. Sola scriptura? Lol. I know, I know, I’ve heard the reheated jokes about how Catholics risk Protestantism by toting a Bible around or reading one, but with some of these people, Fukuyama is a moot point: history has nowhere to end because it hasn’t even started. I’m not about to be the one to try to orient intellectually uncritical teenagers in the cultural and historical context of the religious traditions that they’ve inherited from their parents. That’s a tar baby. The ones who are interested will find their way in due course of time.

Hence my double life. Hell, triple or quadruple. I pass for at least a borderline normie among country-ass Republican godbotherers, and I’m responsible for all of this. Again, I’d rather be known as the originator and curator of the Bad Mountie meme treasury than as the Dubai Porta Potta guy, but these things are not for me to dictate. I’d certainly rather not become known for most of this crap at work, but if it happens, it happens. These are, indeed, a lot of stuffs. Keeping this right here separate from normie ag work is really just about tact, something I have more abundantly than certain colleagues. Yes, the Ditzney Princess was one. I don’t care how pretentious that sounds; it’s true.

This shit keeps going down in a county that also has $20 jailbait gay-for-pay. Over-the-Rhine price points are always a sign of economic health. So is a $.25 daily tip share. Dem shine George coin don’t come free.

All the same, this job has pretty good conditions overall, including effectively perfect workplace safety, and is career-coherent for me. Truth be told, it should be career-coherent for anyone who isn’t going into something like medicine or engineering. No, not the law. God help us, Americans actually think that’s a net benefit to our society, tell Brad to send her up the fucking river they do, Deirdre.

More Americans and fewer Mexicans should be doing farm work in the United States. This much I keep getting right. If more Americans did farm work, we might have a working understanding of what an economy is instead of being batshit insane. I took the train through Salt Lake City last night, and in the course of sightseeing the good shit in core urban Salt Lake and Provo, I lost all confidence in the city Mormons anew. Theoretically, the Mormons should be able to reorient the rest of us towards a gambling-free working nuts-and-bolts economy. The problem is that in practice they’re all over the fucking place. One hour, they’re putting up a decade’s worth of canned goods; the next, they’re running some shit-ass MLM scam out of an office park in Draper, and they’re doing it with a straight face. SEO and the brainwashed dipshits who believe in it are bad enough in the best of circumstances; in parts Napoleonic, the cultural treats include SEO with a servant’s heart.

I have to assume that the Mormons are behind Oil Stop, too; they would be. If that sounds bad, remember that they’re on the record as responsible for Jamberry. I’ve confessed to nothing in these pages as disreputable as that. If you’re secretly sucking cock for a living in American Fork, good for you. I assume that costs more than $20, but mercenary Mormon MILFs are far from the worst thing to come out of the Wasatch Front. We’re talking Stacy’s Mom who knows how to make, like, six different Jell-O salads. Cousin Gigolo has a formal culinary background himself, if I’m not mistaken. None of these honest small businesspeople should be ceding the moral high ground to some fuckheads with an SEO company in an office park that can be seen but not readily accessed from the train.

At least I’m wandering around here with a working concept of what a real job is and what’s bullshit. So are my colleagues. Having an honest, productive job and a crazymaking family religious tradition is better than having an equally bonkers family church and a lead on the shit I saw advertised from the train last night, which made Denver for Millennials look reputable. Let none of us cease to rub yuppies’ faces in it.

Hustling deposit bottles: a useful skill to teach your precious brat in case he turns into a downwardly mobile college-educated bum like me

A year or two I came across an absolutely trash-ass human interest story about some do-gooder tyke in Dana Point or San Clemente or some shit who had supposedly earned over ten grand by collecting deposit bottles, ostensibly driven by his “passion for saving the earth.” I respect myself too much to look any of that shit up, and any effort any of you make to flame me in the comments for being lazy or sloppy in my writing will fail miserably to offend me as much as this original fucking aw-shucks dear-hearts-and-gentle-people happy horseshit story about the SoCal bottle brat does.

Everything about this story was gross, intellectually dishonest, and soul-deadening to anyone wandering by with the barest modicum of critical thought. “Saving the earth” is a muddle-headed synecdoche that this kid was encouraged to trot out to embellish his casual gig as a trashpicker into a grandiose campaign to remediate a measure of the environmental damage that his bougie parents and their bougie neighbors will never, ever for the rest of their lives stop causing, unless they are thrust into a state of utter socioeconomic ruin. The very notion that prepubescent children should be encouraged to have and express “passions” is a frivolous, decadent indulgence that more often than not snowballs into Baby Einstein-ass Tiger Mom excess, in which Mother is now distressed that precious little Taylor failed her (or his!) kindergarten admission interview and anyone with any goddamn sense is looking on in dumbfounded alarm, wondering who the hell sent the Hueys into the jungle this time.

The kids are in fact all right, or would be if their parents weren’t absolute fucking headcases. If the little ones aren’t profoundly troubled, and I mean legit wack, they’ll mature in due course of time into adequately well-rounded teens and adults. What in all hell this has to do with the childish horseshit that has them transfixed at the age of six or eight is not anything that the adults in their lives should give a second’s thought unless the brats have I’ma-go-stab-my-kid-sister-level emotional or behavioral problems. This is not the fork in the road in the path through the yellow wood that makes all the difference. Get your head out of your ass. I went to Walter Hays Elementary, and I regularly pull over at Interstate rest areas to sleep in a dumpster-on-wheels Focus, with a dedicated canning box AND canning bag on the right rear passenger’s seat; more on this shortly. In case you’ve been too fucking dense and self-absorbed to notice, we have social problems in this country that transcend our early childhood curricula and were not caused by little Parker’s failure to apply himself in “science class.”

#TeshTips: Problems that adolescents and adults face need to be addressed in adolescence or adulthood, when they happen, not in early childhood, when they did not. We already have Jonathan Franzen, a national treasure, to write tendentiously about how, ja, don’tcha know, my parents back in Minnesota kind of fucked me up all Freudian-like, and now I’m a Franzen character. Remember this much: if you’re worrying about your minor children blowing one-shot decision points with permanent life-altering consequences, you share a pastime with the guy whose characters include the little squirrel that likes to fuck, and the solutions to this mess are political ones that you are too chickenshit and craven to demand of your elected officials.

Continuing our #TeshTips, #BigBandStyle, bitch, children’s interests are different from adults’ interests, and if we’re still worried about their meaning when we’re already in our thirties or forties, we have failed to put aside childish things. I describe our high-turnout voters; Gloria in Motherfucking Excelsis. We’d be boorish to harangue children about how we birthed them into an impossibly cruel world, but oops, we’re already doing that by micromanaging them for admission to Harvard as tweens. All the same, as excessive as it might be to drain them of all wonder at the world they will someday inherit, we’d be wise to use those opportunities for guidance that come our way to let them know that, no, this is not, has never been, and never shall be a society of princesses, marine biologists, firemen, and astronauts. Or, statistically, a society of Ivy League graduates. Slightly off-topic, GO DIPLOMATS! NPR tells us that there’s a board in the public high school in Wilton, Connecticut, for students to pin the insignia of the colleges that have accepted them and Joaquin Guzman for Mayor.

Our children deserve some head-not-up-the-ass guidance about productive roles that they might take as grown-ups. Chaka Can, hustling bottles is honorable work, Chaka Can, I feel for that, if nothing else, so the South County Can Brat is learning skills that may serve him well and honorably in his adulthood. But even that the human-interest fuckheads just had to pervert into a Story Whore item about the exceptional glory that hustling deposit bottles brought this kid because he was in it for the right reasons, or so he and his stage-managing parents insisted. It couldn’t just be, check it, this kid has an after-school job that any able-bodied person could do, kind of like household chores but with more cash flow.

By the way, that kid DID NOT earn ten grand hustling bottles. Take it from his colleague in the business. That did not happen. His parents guilted other shitlib bougies into giving him big-ass piles of cans. It was basically a Dunkin’ Doorman deal. Shit, I’ve lied about how much I make hustling cans to impress prostitutes, and I’ve never implied making as much as an adult as this brat supposedly made as a second-grader enrolled in school fulltime. I wish I could make $30 a day doing that. Believe me, I’ve got my eyes on the prize. Problem is, the prize ain’t there.

Lemonade stands are another kid culture guilt grift; any sensible adult who wanted some lemonade would go to Stater Bros and stock up on Minute Maid concentrate, not wait for some brat to pretend to be an entrepreneur and to have a work ethic. Next thing you know, these kids will grow up into dipshits who think that being at rock bottom in the Amway downline is entrepreneurship, too.

We are a deeply stupid nation.

Also, stop worrying about the kids not developing a work ethic because of some bullshit about how you didn’t ostentatiously teach them lessons about summer jobs or chores or whatever when they were, like, eight or twelve. I didn’t start doing farm work at all until I was in my mid-twenties and commercial farm work until I was thirty, and I have the work ethic to pick blueberries fulltime for less than minimum wage. Speaking of which, we have no labor theory of value in this country. Ain’t my fault, though. If the Ditzney Princess or the ADHD spazz kid in military reform school don’t have a work ethic at the age of twelve, maybe it’s because they’re fucking twelve. Believe me, I don’t have a problem working with grown-ups instead.

Midnight in the Garden of Food and Devil

Americans are being killed and sickened by contaminated lettuce again. Take a moment to think this over and consider what it means, not only to have this happening anywhere for any reason but to have it happening in what is widely regarded as the wealthiest and certainly the most powerful country on earth. Again, we aren’t hearing about hospitalizations and deaths from fecal coliform bacteria on meat, which has the guts near the good stuff and also a lot of stuff that oughtn’t be eaten but is; this is romaine. Field greens are supposed to be entirely segregated from the nasty.

We should be asking pointed questions about this scandal. For one, who shit on the lettuce? This last contaminated crop, like prior bad batches, was grown domestically, around Yuma. There was no foreign chain of custody for US food safety officials to have any difficulty tracing to the port of entry; this is on us. In another public safety win for the Department of Homeland Security, the shitleaf went through Border Patrol interior checkpoints on its way to market, but those jackbooted thugs are looking for a different leafy green, the maddening reefer, which, come to think of it, is now objectively safer to consume than lettuce. Hell, for that matter, cocaine is probably the most antiseptic substance on the money supply. #TheMoreYouKnow, baby.

Again, someone got shit on the lettuce, and no one in government stopped it at any point until unwitting customers had already started getting dangerously sick. By the time that happened, the potentially contaminated lot under recall advisory was huge. Officials were basically out shrugging and telling the public, eh, don’t eat romaine, then, I guess. It turned out that pretty much the entire romaine crop on the US market at the time had been grown around Yuma and that there weren’t many growers in the business. This was an industrial-scale agricultural concern that had befouled the fresh food supply. If your filthy uncle cooks dinner without washing his hands, your family might get sick. This was one of those deals where Uncle Shit works somewhere upstream in the cutting or boxing of fresh lettuce for the national market, but no one can tell where until there’s an outbreak to trace.

Romaine can be grown in a greenhouse or high tunnel anywhere in the country year round, but for some reason the entire winter crop is grown in one of the driest, most Aral Sea-ass agribusiness shitholes in the land. That reason is Mexicans. We divert their treaty water for our own uses, but then we’re all like, don’t mope around, now, amigo, we’ve got work here. I’m not kidding when I say that the location of these plantations is determined by the wetback supply, not the water supply. Sure, Yuma has deep dirt and a lot of sun, too, but it’s the last goddamn thing upstream of Mexico on a river that Las Vegas, Phoenix, Wickenburg, and Southern California are all jockeying to suck so dry that it never reaches the sea.

This is why we ask why the fuck anyone is growing lettuce there, when it’s a bullshit crop that can be grown on the kitchen windowsill at home if it’s that important. If the Mexicans stopped showing up to cut it, we’d get to hear the latest White Whine from farm country about how food is rotting in the fields again and also we’re being racist, but let’s be real here: there’s nothing racist about granting low-class Mexicans the same license as low-class Americans to go on welfare, and if romaine rots in the field, that means it can’t travel thousands of miles to rot in your fridge. How sad.

The American Gothic waste-not-want-not ethic is a myth. I actually believe in it, but no one in agribusiness or food processing does; everyone in the industry who whines about how the racist government-provoked wetback shortage is causing food to rot in the fields would gladly open a tank valve and pour milk into the river to goose disappointing commodity prices. These are not honorable people, as proven by their custom of importing crews of foreign field hands with no civic stake in the country to spend fifty to sixty hours a week stooped over making the same three or four cuts again and again and again. Gee, could that be why the work is so awful? Could it possibly be that a few thousand people are worked like donkeys in a salt mine for minimum wage to cut a crop that any fool could grow on a shelf in her apartment, without all the stooping?

Before you assume that there’s an applicable minimum wage just because the owners say there’s one, remember that these companies are using international labor arbitrage to hire desperate foreigners with limited English skills, including many who are present in the United States without work authorization. It would take a fucking ethnographic field study to ascertain the actual prevailing wages because the entire business is run by politically manipulative liars. It’s insane to believe a word out of anyone’s mouth from the crew bosses on up, unless it’s about how they knowingly hire illegals, because that’s something they definitely do all the time.

Nor will I bury the hatchet about how offensive, scandalous, and plainly evil it is for planters and their PR flacks to brag about how having destitute fifty-year-old diabetics with 40% of normal hand and wrist function bend down and whack the base of a lettuce stalk with a machete ten thousand times a week is a humanitarian and cultural exchange program. If the Mexicans all decide they wanna go play video games instead, I won’t blame them; that isn’t a life well examined or well spent, but it’ll be good for us, the assholes who expect them to keep showing up and wrecking their bodies cutting our lettuce for a pittance.

And if they keep having fewer and fewer babies to replace the aging farm workforce, again, we deserve it. It’s really interesting how this celebrated Mexican devotion to hard work and family which we celebrate at management’s encouragement is exactly what management wants to keep payroll expenses down. They obviously don’t want childless thicky tricks on birth control, already an East LA thing, to start being a Mexican thing in Mexico, too. It’s none of their damn business, of course, but that never stopped them.

The Chicana lady I have in mind washes her hands because she’s clean and wholesome. I’m not saying we need whores to start cutting our lettuce, but, geez, I’d say we need better handwashing protocols one way or another. Not getting one’s unwashed wiping hand all over the lettuce is kind of like not rawdogging a bunch of different strangers of visibly dubious health and hygiene: it’s basic, commonsense sanitation, but sometimes it’s too much to ask. Hookers are usually really fastidious about condom use, but we’re getting our field greens from crews that include the equivalent of crazy amateur bar skanks, in addition to ones whose instinctive standards of cleanliness are higher than the dangerously excessive demands of their jobs permit them to maintain. This is how we end up with people popping a squat and leaving gifts for their fellow laborers in the vineyard to unexpectedly encounter, or alternately skipping meals until after quitting time to suppress the urge to shit.

No sane and ethical society would tolerate any of this whatsoever. It’s entirely unacceptable and unnecessary. Absolutely nothing about it is inherent to farm work; it’s exclusively the result of hiring a few thousand unenfranchised foreign peasants to spend sixty hours a week doing work that a few hundred thousand or million Americans should be doing for an hour or two a week. The field greens industry invests jack shit in research and development for employee ergonomics for the same reason that it doesn’t provide portapotties within a manageable walk of the field: because it has this disposable foreign peasant workforce at its command.

That’s a workforce that can’t disappear from the United States fast enough. No, I’m not demanding another Operation Wetback. As I said above, video games are a reasonable alternative, at least for those not personally wasting their lives playing them. Besides, importing the Frenchies to do grunt work in New England and Upstate New York was a crackerized clusterfuck in its own right, and not just on account of Paul LePage. The point is that the class clashes between the poor and the higher classes are bad enough when everyone speaks the same language, so anyone trying to dual-track a foreign proletarian vulgate in alongside what everyone with a lick of honesty recognizes as the Lingua Franca has bad motives and is setting the entire society up for trouble. The whole Franco-Anglo thing in Canada seems to have gotten a lot less stupid and vicious as Canada has gotten its shit together and started solving its social problems. This societal advancement is much less forthcoming in Mexico; hence, among other phenomena, Central American refugees who don’t seek resettlement in a country better-governed than their own where they already speak the language, instead risking their lives crossing it to get to a much more alien land where they can more reasonably expect to survive.

Let’s get real: would anyone expect an acculturated, enfranchised, lower-middle-class American workforce operating in a well-regulated industrial regime to have the same difficulty abiding by professional standards of cleanliness? Americans are getting sick and literally dying (*Robert Dziekanski, overhearing the talk of Kwesi Millington’s home and native land* #MeToo, Biggie; you’re literally killing me) because what turn out to be critical food safety protocols are being left to harried foreign peasants working in ragingly lawless environments. These are not environments in which employees feel comfortable taking the time to properly wash their hands. Followup news items on the shitleaf have mentioned that it isn’t a problem anymore because the entire romaine industry has relocated to the Salinas Valley for the summer. Great, the place where they put an unimaginably shoddy-looking portable shitter on a trailer behind a school bus; I can’t imagine what would go wrong with a food safety regime being run in that physical context.

These are not the inscrutable mysteries of the salad field. This shit is Upton Sinclair for vegetarians. It’s the equivalent of a peddler’s cart full of unrefrigerated chicken meat that was dressed with a rusty steak knife. Businesses are allowed to sell this shit, which includes actual shit, because we don’t have laws around here. It’s a miracle that these outbreaks of foodborne illness don’t happen more often.

Please, to the fucking table.

Cholleycod

To my relief, my greatest apprehension about traveling through Boston was not realized. My fear–and you really shouldn’t be surprised if you’ve been paying attention; this isn’t a particularly novel insight–my fear concerned the dismaying possibility that at some point in the course of my interline connection between Logan and South Station I’d be forced to get Charlie off. CHAHLEE!

But enough about working at CBS. Shit, guys, the T kicks ass. Boston isn’t like Atlantic City, where it’s something like a mile from the train station to the Boardwalk or several blocks from the bus station. In Boston you can take the train right to the fucking beach. It can’t be more than about half again as far from the Wonderland terminus to the beachfront gazebos as it is trackside from the Sacramento Amtrak depot, and it’s a beautiful trip on one of America’s most fly as shit rides. The Suffolk Downs station is immediately across the street from a Bayfront marsh, and you know what Teddy always told Mary Jo: the mash, that’s pat of the sea, too. Don’t look at me like that; I’m not the one whose permanent senior US Senator got drunk enough to Ride the Ducks. Yeah, yeah, I know: the Harris lady. But at least we don’t have an entire family devoted to that crap for three generations running.

I never expected to find such low-key chill-as-fuck neighborhoods so close to the airport on such an excellent rapid transit line. Now that I’ve been there, I can’t wait to get back to Sacramento and once again watch RT catastrophically fuck everybody’s shit up. Run Can Car consists all day every day and it’ll still be a next to useless shit show. I checked, and my voter registration was approved, so I lives there, and I is in fact coming back in shortly, but as I keep saying, my plants deserve better than that. The navel orange trees on the Capitol grounds aren’t the only Brazilian thing about that, uh, City of God.

It’s hard to believe that I didn’t miss Boston’s city parts of town in the six hours between landing and rolling out for Schenectady, scratch that, Rensselaer because Metro-North got FUBAR from treefall and the combined Lake Shore Limited reached Cleveland at about two in the afternoon. It’s certainly true that the regional affluenza is wicked out of control wicked north. Prior to this week, I’d been to Boston twice that I could remember, excluding a round trip through Logan on the way to and from Lake Winnipesaukee, which I just needed three tries and the internet to relearn how to fucking spell, at the age of three and a half. That was the week of the Challenger disaster, or, as I explained it, the thing where the space shuttle blowed up and all the people falled off.

It’s too bad that wasn’t a Harvard mission. For such a stupid and arrogant crew they sure keep enough retainers around who care about the O Rings and the deicing protocols. The main thing I remember from Harvard and awah feyah surrounding city, other than the jackasses the admissions department sent to talk to my group who were so unprofessional and flippant that I refused to apply, was that I couldn’t quite put a finger on what was wrong with it all but it all just seemed kind of fucked up. In retrospect, I realize that I probably felt that way because it was super fucked up. The traffic and the street system (it ain’t a grid) were definitely fucked up, to the extent that I ended up on the wrong side of the Charles River because I missed a turnoff sign by fifty feet, and the drivers were total assholes. I was timid enough to believe my dad on an earlier trip, when I was in my early teens, that we’d waste the whole trip waiting on trains if we took the T; it wasn’t until I finally went on my own this week that I confirmed that the worst streets covered up the best rapid transit.

If I tried, I’m sure I’d be able to find assholes around there who complain that Uber is too slow and expensive. After all, Brookline is overflowing with these shitheads, who aren’t quite moneyed enough to have their driver fetch the car but are close enough to be quietly resentful that, like Moses, they will never quite make it to that promised land, tantalizingly near though it is, a thing they can see and do not cease trying desperately to reach but can never properly take into their possession. Matthew Stewart, the author of the Atlantic article in the link, is descended from a dipshit who inherited enough oil money to buy a Bentley and some club memberships and, registered social version of Cousin Gigolo that he was, blew it on exactly that. Steve Almond, the smarmy fuck who went to one of the high schools that I might have attended on a different timeline, lives in Arlington, and his celebrated Palo Alto schools appear in Stewart’s article as the top eleven public elementary schools in all of California. We’re dealing here with a hardcore elite stupid enough to give a shit about bridge and the Social Register and a class of not-quite-arrived arrivistes so desperate to join them that, cash-strapped slumdogs with a cool half mil in equity in newly renovated Brookline houses that they are, go online to try to hire part-time governesses for their brats.

I swear, these fucking asswipes need to be sentenced to Fresno.

Cities where over half of the adult population holds graduate degrees are not normal. Neither is asking the clerk at the bodega why the same bottle of wine is cheaper at Whole Foods. That’s another thing that Harvard men and women do. Whenever I think of the utterly appalling expectation that the rest of us defer to these self-important idiots as our social, intellectual, and moral betters, William Buckley’s fantasy about being governed by the first hundred names in the Boston telephone directory is a point well taken. To paraphrase Winston Smith, the proles around there look well-adjusted enough to maybe save the bourgeoisie from itself, because like hell will Harvard’s bumper crops of psychiatrists and arm-cutters do anything so thoughtful for their own people. No, seriously, if I had kids I’d rather leave them under the supervision of the baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants I saw around Logan than with most of the people I knew in college, and anyone who insists that I’m anti-intellectual for saying so is a goddamn fool. I despise these gobshites BECAUSE I have a life of the mind.

America’s meritocratic winners would have us all assume that, just as they insist, what they’re doing is ordered to the enforcement of the labor theory of value; like, Atul Gawande has critical, hard-to-replace medical skills that an airport ramper does not, and that’s why their kids are all investment bankers. There are all kinds of ways to fall short of one’s potential as a productive member of society, but it gets awfully tiresome to listen to these assholes reflexively dignify their socioeconomic peers no matter how useless or destructive their work objectively is and without objection keep up the pretension that white-shoe law and marketing are worthy, important lines of work in ways that making sure the bags are loaded onto the plane so that it doesn’t crash and keeping the plane from being backed into another plane are not.

Then these assholes complain to one another about the tile guy not showing up right when they needed him there to renovate their kitchens, and how that meant they had to eat Thai takeout for a month. With that attitude on the customer end and jobs that serve no legitimate social purpose, why the fuck should the tile guy show up at all? Of course he’s in it for the money, and he was probably booked solid doing the same pointless work for other insufferable yuppies, but why the hell shouldn’t he be walking around Barnstable stuffing his face with chowder all day instead? I eat an awful lot of Thai food for a white boy without an apartment, and you don’t hear me complaining about too much green curry.

We might be able to understand this situation without NPR, but that wouldn’t induce enough vomiting. What did Werman and his twerpkin have to bitch about while I was on my way to the airport to fly to Boston the other day? Why, another fucking complaint about how Americans don’t want to take seasonal food service jobs in tourist towns on Cape Cod. It isn’t Groundhog Day because the feds won’t admit Jamaicans on demand to fill barista jobs; it’s Groundhog Day because this same goddamn horseshit about how Americans are shitty employees and this inconveniences rich restaurant-goers is on the fucking state radio again. Brahmins had to wait in line because there weren’t enough Jamaicans, mon, and barring the national door to lawful temporary entry by nonimmigrant noble savage kitchen jockeys is not cool, mon.

The restaurant that this radio-enabled whine-one-one call profiled is called, I shit ye not, Hot Chocolate Sparrow, and it’s owned by, again, Scout’s Honor, a Perry Sparrow. NPR devoted nationally syndicated airtime to a complaint about how it takes longer to get hot chocolate in a fancy restaurant on Cape Cod than at, I dunno, a Cumberland Farms in Schuylerville. Here’s another idea: go the grocery store and buy some Swiss Miss, say hi to Anthony if he’s working, and SHUT THE FUCK UP.

You’d think that, America being a free-market country and all, Mr. Sparrow and fellow birds of his feather could address their labor shortage by, say, paying twelve months’ wages for three or four months’ work and maybe providing decent free housing as well. Instead we get to listen to fucking Jonathan Livingston Seagull complain about how he spent the entire season waiting on the government to approve his Jamaicans, on the premise that we’ll grant the dude the minimal judgment needed to competently run a small business. I don’t care about the moral value or lack thereof of overpaying Cape Cod’s food service line workers, and it’s certainly no game in which I have skin since I’m planning to spend another summer making less than minimum wage for farm work with dignity, mostly, but either their timely labor is worth a market premium or it isn’t, and given the general market conditions in that part of the country, I’m guessing that it’s worth more to the owners than the swing shift at a Lake George Stewart’s in February.

And I’m the last person to tell the help that it needs to be more enthusiastic about serving yuppies for minimum wage. I disappear from the blueberry gig when the dignity flies the coop and don’t return until it sounds like the bullshit has attenuated, and that’s a job that actually is time-critical in the sense that the fruit will rot, not make-believe time-sensitive in a waah the weather is getting le cold and I wanna go to Florida way. Even so, my bosses don’t berate me about how much trouble they have finding and keeping help, and I haven’t found them berating the public about this shameful state of affairs on its (sic) national radio network. If Perry Mason Birdman can’t make the job tolerable enough to keep Americans on duty in spite of the shit wages he pays, that’s on him, and probably on his customers on a pretty regular basis. Remember, this is the set that summers on the Cape. Maybe the free-market rate to get Americans or already work-authorized foreigners to put up with these assholes for a summer is roughly what an Amtrak conductor would make with overtime in a year. Given that they’re obviously dealing with worse shit at work than I do at the same time of year, I can’t begrudge them whatever they’re making. As I said, I don’t get lectured at work, both because I don’t tolerate managerial horseshit on piece rate and also because my bosses are generally pretty decent about that stuff, get off their bullshit pretty quickly if they have been back up on it, and obviously mean well. Being in the back of the house doesn’t hurt, either. My fellow Sacramentans may not treat my plants decently, but my plants treat me great.

Come to think of it, getting Charlie off must pay better than any of this, although I’m sure Cousin Gigolo would find a way to lowball his own rate until it doesn’t.