Friday, December 18, 2009

The Poco Diablo Saga AKA Urban Renewal

I awake in the van on the street. Someone has either slammed their door or honked their horn or a garbage truck has crushed a load. My arm is asleep and my vision is bad. I sleep with my eyes open so any light irritates my eyes even as I sleep. Sometimes my dreams incorporate what I see, such as the time I was visited by Ted Nugent in a spaceship.

When I roll over on the right side of my head I can hear nothing because my left ear is nearly deaf. A hearing doctor once asked me to describe the sound.
"It sounds like a swarm of locusts," I responded and watched him pause for a second and then write it down.

I remember that today is the day I have to get something going, one way or another. I need to make a few dollars, not read more civil war history in the library. Then I think, no. Fuck work. I won’t make any money. I’ll probably get injured. It’s futile. I’m better off at the library looking for a real job. Then I see myself from above, sleeping in an old van, wearing my socks to bed to stay warm, a moped and a ton of tools actually stored in the van with me, like a garage on wheels. When it rains I have to direct the water away from my bed with torn plastic milk jugs. It’s insane by any definition. I’m living completely on the fringe of society, a microcosm of lunacy, reusing dental floss, shitting into old newspaper, and drinking puddle water. I could plant a garden in the fertile soil under my seats. But I am parked next to $300,000 condos. I stare at the Flashdance soundtrack LP above my bed and meet Jennifer Beal’s vulnerable yet determined eyes. How am I going to turn the abstract performance art that is my life into a small cabin or mobile home with a wife and children puttering about as I hang storm windows or play the piano? My life is something Leonard Cohen would sing about and I want the song to be written by Cole Porter; how will that happen? By working? Maybe, I rationalize, I’ll get a good temp job that will turn into a long term assignment. Good things always happen to me. Think positive. Today could be the day.

So I roll out of bed and take my pants out of the protective plastic bag I store them in at night and put them on. I draw my boots on and tie the laces by propping my foot on the seat of my moped. The soles aren’t coming off the shoe yet but they will be ruined by the end of the day. Then I go to piss in a milk jug that has been with me for 6 months. It’s full but I don’t dare pour it out on Lincoln Avenue again. I’ve learned that lesson. So I grab the nearest empty jug of apple cider and piss into that. Then I gather up the curtains and drink some water from a green 2 liter soda jug that was given to me by an Evangelist in Quebec. Time to start my day.

The van starts up on the first try. I choke the carb a little and roll all the curtains up until the engine runs smooth. The inside of the windshield is totally covered with condensation but I drop it into gear and roll in the direction of Labor Ready, aiming for the only piece of asphalt I can see.

Men are smoking outside the door, meaning I am late. The lobby opens at 5:30am and it’s after 6 now. A guy I know nods at me and asks with a smile, “Where’s that Ten dollars you owe me?”
About 8 men are sitting in the lobby when I go to sign in. I’ve worked here before, which means I’ve taken the safety test before, but the dispatcher, Sue, tells me I have to take it again. I don’t argue. The questions, accompanied by a text with all the answers, are of the common sense variety.

#5 If you are on the job site and are told to climb a ladder over 10ft tall you should:
A: Do it and tell your branch office later.
B: Do it only if it is a supervisor telling you.
C: Walk off the job site.
D: Don’t climb the ladder. Contact your branch office.

The correct answer is D. Of course if you are on a job site and are told to do something then you will probably do it without hesitation because you understand that if you don’t do as you are told then you will not be invited back the next day. The company might be fined but how will that help you? So you climb the ladder and since you passed the test then the labor firm is protected when you eventually fall off a ladder. You will be out of a job, injured, and have no legal recourse to get workman’s compensation. Just don’t fall off the ladder, is the implied meaning of this question.

I answer about 80 questions, double-checking the text to make sure I don’t get any wrong and also to stall. There is a chance I’ll get a good ticket but there is a near certainty that I’ll get a terrible assignment. If I got no ticket at all and just sat there for a few hours I would consider myself even for the day.

Nearby, two men are talking about their child support payments.
“I got twenty-two grand worth. Try getting it out of me. Just try.”
“When I got back together with my old lady she signed this paper that waived 14K worth of back support. I only owe two grand now.”
The couple had since split up again.
“I think I got my kids this weekend. You know how that goes. It’d be nice if I could take ‘em to Chuckie Cheese.”

Another man sits down, picks up the paper and turns to the police log.
“Let’s see if I got arrested last night,” he says grinning.

Another guy limps by.
Someone asks him, “How’s your foot?”
“Gout’s killing me. In the big toe.”
“Gout? What’s that?”
“It’s God’s way of making sure you don’t kick your kid’s ass.”
“Haw! My son-in-law pisses me off too. I told him to buy his own cigarettes from now on. No more handouts.”
“Good luck.”
The man with gout limps out the door.

Another guy with a ponytail is sitting in his underwear for some reason. He has pants around his ankles like he’s on the toilet but he is on the edge of the lobby sitting in a plastic lawn chair. No one talks to him. From the waist up he looks normal. From the waist down he’s only wearing boxer shorts.

Almost every man there lives at the local halfway house called Crossroads. They kick you out at 5 am with a piece of toast and jam for breakfast. The library doesn’t open until 8 so they migrate here to the labor ready office and drink some free coffee. Some wait for tickets and some slip away before their names are called. I could go to Crossroads but I prefer my van. Spend a night at Crossroads and you’ll know why.

I finish the test and turn it in just as four men are assigned a job, something to do with unloading a truck, and handed hard hats. They leave en masse, resigned to their uncertain fate like marines to a beachhead, neither enthusiastic nor depressed. It looks like the kids’ll be going to Chuckie Cheese after all.

I sit down until a job order comes in for detailing cars. For a moment it is up for grabs but I imagine the inside of my van and how badly it needs detailing, or at least a light cleaning. Why would I spend all day detailing thirty strange cars when my one van, my house, needs attention? This is the beggar’s paradox: he is willing to do for others what he won’t do for himself.

Sue tries to explain the ticket, “You wash the tires, dry the windshield, clean out the ashtray.”

There is literally no way to make the job sound glamorous or desirable. It reminds me of the job description of a housekeeper. “Remove all pubic hairs from drain.” Sue looks in my direction but I keep reading the paper. The man reluctantly assigned to it, the last man other than me, doesn’t have a car of his own so Sue closes the office and gives the guy a ride to work. I walk to a nearby cafĂ© and order a bagel and egg sandwich with bacon and cheese. I read the employment news at a counter with lonely retired men staring into their cups of coffee, insomniacs who worked the first shift for so long they can’t sleep past 6. They are wondering what a man like me is doing in a coffee shop on a work day but my look says, “Keep staring at your coffee, grandpa.” In the paper there are jobs for heavy equipment operators, registered nurses, and elderly companions. The bagel sandwich arrives. It’s made with real cheese and I eat half of it before walking across the barren supermarket parking lot back to the office. Kids are on their way to school with backpacks and poster board assignments. The yellow and red leaves are all in bags. Autumn is over but real winter has not yet begun.

When I arrive Sue and another staff member are fighting to get the double doors open. The deadbolt only retracts so far so it still catches on the other door. Sue fights it for nearly a minute, swearing, as we jog in place to stay warm. Finally the door opens with a bang almost breaking the glass. She and another employee go in first.

Sue says, “Every time I open that door it’s the same thing.”

I look at the latch for a second and in my younger days I would have tried to fix it. In fact, I would have fixed it because there is nothing I dislike more than simple maintenance tasks that are ignored and lead to major replacements, especially in a labor hall where able men sit around and read week old newspapers in their underwear. The lock needs to be sprayed with some WD-40 so it slides easier. The deadbolt could be filed down. The whole mechanism is probably worn out but I’m talking about fixing it in the next ten minutes. I have some WD-40 and a file in my van but I have learned something at Labor Ready and that is to do only that which you have been told to do. Ambition or independent thought is frowned on. Basically, I am forbidden from fixing the door so I sit down and eat my bagel while reading the paper. There are packets of ketchup in the bag so I make a puddle of ketchup and dip the bagel sandwich into the puddle and eat.

The news concerns a domestic sniper being executed after a last meal of chicken in red sauce. That reminds me that I want to go to the Indian restaurant for dinner. Another news story quotes the President as he says he is sure that the terrorist accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks will be executed because he is plainly guilty. He has no reservations about trying him in a civil court because there is no chance he will be found not guilty. The trial has not even begun and the President, a lawyer, has convicted him. I wonder who died and put Stalin in charge. As I move to the sports section the phone rings and since I’m the only one in the hall I know my destiny is about to be decided.

“He didn’t show up?...What about…He didn’t either? Well how many you need? I got one here. You need two or one? I’ll call Dover. Alright.”
Sue hangs up.

“Oggy! They need someone athletic to do some running around. Construction cleanup.”
I was the youngest man in the hall by a few years but I know I’m in trouble. “Athletic? Running around?” Do I look like I’m twenty years old? Then I remember that I recently shaved my salt and pepper beard (for another job interview) so with my ball cap on I do look like I’m twenty, which is something I won’t be able to say for long. There is no one else in the hall and no other job to choose from so I take my ticket. I’m going to Poco Diablos, a faux-Mexican restaurant in downtown Portsmouth that is receiving a facelift. There’s no free parking down there and I quickly decide to park near the mill pond and ride my moped there. I sign out for a hard hat and some gloves and get in the van. It is almost 9 so I’ve been waiting for nearly 3 hours.

Instead of parking at the millpond where I know the Junior High School kids will fuck with my van, I drive near the river and end up over by the old Portsmouth Herald. I throw an old sweater on since it is cold and take my rings off. The hardhat proves to be a problem for my moped’s storage unit, which is a mini Coleman cooler. The moped runs rough since it is cold and since the single piston is worn out but I get to Poco’s in a few minutes, parking and locking the moped on a telephone pole near the tug boats. I don’t find my supervisor but I find a worker, John, who is throwing wood into a dumpster.
“You from Labor Ready?”
He says this like an accusation so I shrug as though I’m powerless.
“Ok. Our only job is to keep this place clean today,” he says.

So I start hauling garbage cans full of construction debris and throwing it into the dumpster. Not too hard. It keeps me warm. Carpenters are tearing a wall apart and as they toss studs and nails aside I throw them into the trash can. In between trips to the dumpster I take a note from the safety test and observe my work environment. There are five pieces of heavy equipment including an overhead crane, an excavator, an extending work platform, a bulldozer, a bobcat and a mini excavator. Later a concrete mixer will arrive. Down an alley a backhoe is digging up a sewer line. The Ferry Landing bar used to be right in front of me but it’s just dirt now. The area is not big enough for all this equipment so any time one piece of machinery has to move another has to move first.

When all the loose debris is in the dumpster I begin to think this is going to be easy money. I give myself a pat on the back. God gives all things to industry. Yes, He does. That’s what they’ll put on my gravestone. “Honest” Oggy Bleacher: He lived and died on the sweat of his brow. Normally at this time of the day I’m in my van feeling sorry for myself or in the library clicking on yet another link for a used Triumph motorcycle or a long-shot job in the Bahamas. Today, I’m proud of myself. I’m in the work force. I’m part of the Great American recovery. I’m day dreaming of stars and stripes when John leads me into what used to be the bar.
“I’m going to start breaking this up with the jackhammer. You haul it out in these buckets.”
Wha? That’s sounds like real work. Just to be sure I pretend like I didn’t hear him. John yells, “I’M GOING TO START BREAKING….”
That’s the thing about temp jobs: your job description can be explained in two sentences. Sometimes words aren’t even necessary; John could just point to the broken concrete and then point to the dumpster.
My worst nightmare has come true. I didn’t just end up with a shitty ticket; I ended up with the total bottom of the barrel bullshit ticket. A ticket paying the minimum wage for the maximum manual labor. I’ve got a right to complain. There will be no easy money. I now see why two other Labor Ready employees didn’t show up. They knew what was coming and they jumped on those auto detailing tickets. Right now they’re probably sitting in a Lexus or a Mazerati pretending they own it, laughing, getting stoned in the bathroom, stealing quarters they find in the seat, flirting with the sexy girls at the tanning salon next door. Me? I’m in the express lane for spine surgery.
I need to stall some more so I look at the two five gallon buckets. I look at the bar.
“How much of this is getting torn up?”
I know the answer and, furthermore, any amount of concrete is too much to carry in buckets.
John motions to these big areas crisscrossed by a concrete blade. Some already have been chipped into and sectioned off. Most is still intact. Judging by one hole there are two layers of 6 inch concrete and one layer of 4 inch concrete all sandwiched on top of each other over the years as new construction evolved. We have to expose sewage and water pipes that haven’t been seen since John Paul Jones got drunk near a two-masted schooner. If I busted my ass, which I don’t plan on doing, this should take days.

I sigh/moan as I trace the path I must follow from the bar, over a ledge of broken concrete, through an open door where debris rains down from above, across a flimsy bridge made of a several 2x4s and a piece of plywood placed over a moat of mud and exposed rebar (this bridge was later crushed by an excavator moments after I made one crossing), past the ever-moving excavator, under an extending platform (ignoring Labor Ready safety rule #37) and up a loose dirt hill near another rotating crane where the dumpster is. It’s like 40 yards away. The dumpster, by the way, has walls that are almost six feet high so whatever debris I bring there must then be lifted above my head to dump. Some carpenters tearing down the deck above us dislodge some plaster onto my head.

I dreamily remember a ticket I got in Los Angeles. A Walgreens was being built and for some reason no ditch digging machines were available for the parking lot borders. Oggy Bleacher to the rescue. I dug with a pick axe and shovel for 8 hours, getting a $64 parking ticket in the process that lost me $10 on the day. But it was warm and I didn’t need a hard hat and it was in Westwood where everyone is beautiful. I took my shirt off and drank a gallon of water for lunch. I was also 5 years younger and felt I was paying my dues to live near people like David Mamet and Snoop Dogg. It wasn’t going to be easy, of course. I only needed to be patient.

Flash forward five years to me in the basement bar of Poco Diablo’s on the opposite coast, everyone in hardhats and sweatshirts, a jackhammer nearby, two buckets of concrete debris in my hands. I’m not paying my dues anymore. I’m just trying to get some money coming in. I should have stayed in the van.

“Are you sure?” I ask, implying that this is not a job for plastic buckets and my Labor Ready ass.
“Yeah,” says John, “We got a ton of concrete to move.”
To keep what little pride have left I say nothing more and grab the two buckets, marching outside with the buckets on either side of me. A board tumbles in front of me and I kick it away. The plank bridge wobbles. Two beeping, belching excavators almost collide in front of me. The dirt pile collapses when I step on it. Seconds after I leave, John turns on the jackhammer compressor before he hooks the hose to the jackhammer causing two or three hundred pounds of air pressure to be directed into a loose hose, which goes completely berserk before he can shut it off. The hose lashes the side of the building, nearly hitting an exposed natural gas pipeline (goodbye downtown Portsmouth), and whips like one of Dr. Octopus’s arms in vicious circles. Luckily everything it breaks is about to end up in the dumpster. John and I trade a look of relief. He admits later that he has never used a jackhammer. I have but I won’t admit it.

While John moves to put the hose on the jackhammer I walk the last 30 yards to the dumpster and lift the buckets one by one to dump them in. I estimate that for every full bucket I have to take a minute break. I also estimate that I will be permanently injured if I take full buckets all day. Truth be told, I can barely lift a full bucket. It probably weighs 90 pounds. For every half full bucket I have to take a fifteen second break. I will probably be injured if I take half full buckets. The weight of a quarter full bucket is still in the 30 or 40 pound range, which means two buckets of 60-80 pounds total. I decide that is the absolute maximum and if they don’t like it then I will hand my hard hat in. John won’t be able to break the concrete that fast anyway. I’ll be doing everyone a favor if I just take my time and take the minimum. It is one thing if I have a clear path and a pile to dump it into but I have a dangerous obstacle course of 40 yards and at the end of it I have to lift everything above my head. I pick up the empty buckets up and weave my way back through the obstacle course. When I think I’ve found safety in the bar again it is filled with concrete dust raised by John, who is now guiding the jackhammer in small circles. It is deafening. I point to my ears as though to ask John if he has some other ear plugs and he hands them to me. Another dust cloud follows. There are no dust masks so the only solution is to hold my breath and dig frantically in the dust for some chunks to fill the buckets. I am wearing safety goggles so when chips of concrete hit me in the face at 50 miles an hour they click off my glasses or sting my cheeks. The generic plastic hard hat has never fit me right so every time I lean over to pick something up it falls off my head.
“Motherfucker!” I yell, though no one can hear me over the jackhammer. Worse, by speaking, I have to breathe the cement dust as I fumble with the hard hat.
“Shit. Fuck!”
I finally toss the helmet on my head, grab the buckets, and blindly try to get out the door. I trip on the cement ledge, cut my knee on a piece of rebar, stumble across the wobbling bridge, climb over a mound of dirt, dodge the excavator, duck under the crane platform, dodge another excavator, jog up a hill and set the buckets down. I consider walking off the job. I would be better off playing guitar on the sidewalk for 8 hours. Fuck industry. Fuck God. Fuck the work. Fuck Poco Diablo’s. I never drank here anyway. I’ll never go back to Labor Ready so it doesn’t matter if I burn that bridge. Or I could pretend to get hurt. Pretend? Ha! I am actually limping from the rebar. And my hands are cramping already. My back hurts. My shoulders are numb. Most people in my condition were just in a major auto accident. I’m about to throw in the towel when a carpenter walks by. He sees me massaging my hand and knows I’m a temp worker, a soft skinned pencil pusher who just got suckered into this ticket because I’m dumb too.
He says, “Nightmare job, huh?”
“Jeez. No shit.”
“We come in here last week just gonna replace the windows. Turns out the whole back of the building is leaning 8 inches.”
“Well, fuck. All these buildings are leaning. A few more feet and it’ll be a tourist attraction. So what?”
“Gotta bring it up to code.”
“That’s just...So…So this?”
I wave at the destruction around us.
“$25,000 change to the order.”
“It’s bullshit.”
“Slaves had it better,” he says.
“Naw, slaves could buy their freedom.”
We laugh mirthlessly but the exchange gives me renewed hope that I am not a mule. I commit to the effort. We will do what is necessary to rebuild this god-damn restaurant. I march back into the debris field. A bulldozer is backing toward me so I hop over a concrete wall into a trench. I bounce over a pile of broken slabs of concrete and climb back into the bar area. Another man is standing there. I can tell by his posture and his ill-fitting hard hat that he is a fellow labor ready employee.
“What’s up, bitch?”
“I shoulda stayed in bed.” He says before adding, for no reason, “I’m on the waiting list for public housing.”
I nod and toss some concrete into the buckets.
“Mama’s in the cold, cold ground.”
Then the machine starts again and we are both enveloped in a cloud of dust.
Later, we take a break for lunch and are each given a gigantic hamburger and French fries.
The remainder of the day is spent humping concrete to the dumpster and avoiding the backhoe. I never get cold but I never get so hot that I remove my sweater, or even my jean jacket. The hard hat is more of a distraction than a piece of safety equipment but it manages to stay on for the rest of the day. I pace myself so I am never completely burned out but with every round trip to the dumpster I feel the tendons of my arm tremble. On one trip I am carrying two buckets with hardly any concrete in them. This is because the other worker and I are keeping pace with the man operating the jackhammer so there is really no need to carry more than I am able to carry. Furthermore, I am pacing myself to last the whole day. As I dump the contents of the bucket I see a group of foremen looking at me. One of the men, either the owner of the construction company or a lead foreman, points to my bucket and elbows the man next to him. Then he makes a gesture and I can read his lips. “That guy (lazy fuck) was carrying about two inches of dust.” They laugh and I can tell they view me as a complete liability, a shirker of duties, a malingerer, and a loafer. My own reaction is resignation. I can’t win. I recall how many people called me a loafer for living in my van in Mexico, surviving on tacos and water, picking up nothing more than some wood for a fire. Now I’m carrying two buckets of concrete and am still a loafer. And the people who thought living in a van was loafing would just think I’m an idiot. Either way, I can’t do 8 hours of this work, and for what I’m getting paid I shouldn’t do a single hour of this work. There’s a reason this job was designated to a temp worker. No one could make a living from this work. You would destroy your body and your clothes faster than you could make the money to repair them. But everyone already knows this. I already knew this. But I need the money so I took the ticket. The ticket turned out to be a killer but does that mean I should walk away from it and not get paid? That would just make trouble for everyone here. I can do the job at my pace and still go home in one piece. But doing so means the men in charge will look at me like a stray dog that should be put down. Fortunately, entering the work site again requires all my attention and I don’t change my routine at all. If they want to send me home I won’t argue. If they want to give me shit for loafing then I will say nothing. If they allow me to stay then I’ll move what I can move without killing myself.
The other temp and I drag ass the final hour, authentically loafing, standing by the dumpster for no reason, talking with the carpenters, looking at girls walking by in long coats, talking about the economy. The end comes mercifully. A man I’ve never met says they need someone back the next morning and I don’t commit. They don’t particularly want me back and they don’t care if I come back, but they need someone because there is still one day of work left in that bar. I can expect more buckets of concrete and more disdainful stares by the foreman. I take my signed ticket and walk back to my moped. Except for my pride, I’m uninjured. That’s the important thing. I can still play the guitar. I ride the moped back to my van. The van fires up.
On the way back to the labor hall I stop by the donut shop. A week earlier when the library was closed I sat in the donut shop nursing a hot chocolate and reading a book. As I pull in the parking space I look across a fence and meet eyes with Cristos, a friend since 1977, who has recently gotten married. I honk and wave. Cristos does a double take. I jump out of the van with my hard hat on and work gloves, covered with concrete dust.
Cristos squints in the neon light, “Oggy, what are you doing?”
“I’m working! Got me a job at Poco Diablos. Lugging concrete.”
He can’t get away and his shoulders sag.
“What happened to you?”
This is his typically obtuse way of pointing out how much I’ve changed from the Whiffle ball hero of the JFK Center to the hobo work mule. What happened to me? Let’s just say that at the Baskin Robbins counter of life I want to try all the flavors, even the ones I know I won't like.
"Trying to get some hustle money, is all," I respond.
"Hauling concrete? Are you an idiot?"
I invite him over to the Dunkin Donuts and he obliges even as he looks at his watch.
“The first thing I thought when I saw that van was, ‘What a piece of shit.’"
That’s what most people think.
"It's a good van. You think I can afford rent in Portsmouth?"
I order a hot chocolate and, because I worked today, a pumpkin muffin. I resent handing 5% of my paycheck to the cashier for twenty cents of sugar and flour.
While I sit at a table and eat Cristos explains that he just got back from a funeral.
“80 years alive and in the ground forever,” he says of his recently passed uncle.
"See," I say, picking up a conversation thread we started years earlier, "That's what I'm talking about. It’s not fair. The rules aren’t fair.”
“That’s how it is. And you’re just wasting it.” He doesn't even look me in the eye when he speaks. He's looking behind me at lady ordering glazed munchkins and coffee.
I start babbling, “This is my life. I get up and try to make something happen. It’s a big world. When we going to Greece?”
“I just got back from Italy.”
“Look at you. Mr. Italy. Why you go there?”
“Oh, right. You’re married. How’s that?”
He shrugs. He has settled down and wants to settle down even further. I do too but like to tell myself I haven’t found a good enough reason to do it.
“So that’s it,” I say.
“Yeah, I gotta go. Come by, buddy. Call me.”
His tone of voice is identical to the one he uses with faceless customers at his work scalping sports tickets. Maybe that’s because he spends most of his life using that tone of voice and maybe it’s because I’ve become one of those faceless customers who keep him from his own interests. Either way, he’s gone into the night and I return to my dry muffin until my cell phone rings. It’s the labor hall and Sue wants to know if I went to work and if I plan to come back to get paid.
I drive over to the labor hall with my hot chocolate between my knees and get my check.
“They need someone tomorrow at 8.”
I’ve already decided I’m not going back so I say, “I’ve got a job interview tomorrow.” This isn’t true but at least it makes me look less like a malingerer.
Sue doesn’t care either way. She merely needs to know if she will be sending someone new to Poco’s in the morning. Maybe she’ll call a reliable worker tonight to give him a few extra hours of sleep and allow him to skip the trip to the labor hall. Either way, my job is finished and I walk out of there with a check for $50, not enough by my book and too much from where they’re sitting. No one is satisfied but the sun is down and I’m back in the van and on my way to a dark street. The library is closed so I will play the guitar until it gets too cold to be out of the sleeping bag.

I park near the old JFK site and wonder aloud, "What happened to me? What happened to you? You go around flying around the world with your fat ass. What about whiffle ball? What about the game? I'd play right now but they tore the goddamn court down. What happened to you?"
I talk to myself in the van because I like to hear conversations out loud. My own private theater.

$50 breaks down to $15 of gas, $10 of food and $25 into the Guatemala fund*. Taking the ticket turned out to be a brush with disaster but it reminded me that I am too old for that kind of chain gang labor. There was a time twenty years earlier when I could work 8 to 10 hours with a shovel and not complain but if I want to make some money and survive I need to get into manufacturing again. I plan to scour the papers for work and call back several temp agencies. One agency is in Laconia and has advertised for multiple assembly jobs. Maybe I’ll go up there. Driving to central New Hampshire in mid November with no job and no place to live is not a fantastic idea but the alternative is to drive south into New York and see what comes up. But I don’t even have enough liquid cash to make that trip. I’m sure the Labor Ready in Manhattan has work and I could make my way to Florida in stages. As I lay in my van I know I can not possibly answer every question, but at least I’m asking the right questions. I needed money so I made $50 without taking my pants off. That’s a step in the right direction.

*It took 5 years, but Oggy successfully drove his van to Guatemala.


Anonymous said...

Cut and paste this, and send it to some literary journals. Go to Fuck, get on your horse already.

Oggy Bleacher said...

Go from one blog that nobody reads to a literary journal that nobody reads? You might as well write John Grisham and tell him to submit a story to

"Maybe Oggy will like it! Then you'll get published, John!"

eddie said...

that sucks balls. I remember you telling me you were working there. Sucks to think that the 22 year old punks who will be drinking there next summer on the decks will never even think about the back breaking labor that it took to build them a new place to get drunk and hit on portsmouth sluts.

I am having quite the time looking for's an experience. In two months i've been offered (1) job. It was working for Honda in Danvers via Stratham office, at a base salary of $26,000 plus commissions. It was basically following up on internet leads and setting appointments for customers to come in and look at cars. Not too exciting and for that money, I can make the same thing sitting on my couch.

Other than of late....i found these two companies.

the first is a search engine optimization company...supposedly the best out 112 on Inc's 500 fastest growing companies. They need a sales rep to work from home on 100% commission and get companies to retain their services. The commissions look really good, but i'm still exploring it.

the second company is a sports marketing sort of company. They give high schools and colleges free sports calendars, folders and posters of their sports teams. My job would be to get local businesses to advertise on these products for their particular hometown schools. I would get paid $250/week and commissions on my sales. He was a real fast talker and spoke over me never letting me ask questions. He asked what sports i played in high school, my positions, and how tall I was. Not really sure what that had to do with selling ads. When i asked about car reimbursement the slick salesmen on the other end said "if you need tires or an oil change we barter with places in your big deal." Not really what I wanted to hear. I was hoping for 55 cents per mile. Then he said "i think by your resume you would do well at this just depends if you want it. Why don't you mull it over with your family this weekend and call me on Monday if you want to go to the Superbowl" I'm still trying to figure out what he meant by that one. Opportunity of a lifetime?? I think not.

Anonymous said...

That is retarded. High school sports ads?

As for VQR, it wasn't John Grisham who got published there, it was John Updike.

Oggy Bleacher said...

The first part of a sales job is negotiating the terms of getting hired. Tell them you mulled it over and want $1 a mile plus coffee $. And $350 a week.
The question is if they want you.

I'm finishing Updike's Rabbit Redux. It's good stuff. I was trying to get rep'd by his agent in Beverly Hills. Now I'm in a factory. Oh, the tides are fickle!

hardworker said...

you're hoping it all works out in the end oggy. the end being 250years from now. selling sports calendars or not, you don't care as long as you keep interpreting out loud. It's a sickness that may prevent a larger illness. good luck.

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