Monday, June 22, 2009

Secrah Terry, P.I.?

I've been filling in for the secretary at the school where I work this week and last, and have found myself with a lot of time on my hands and not much to do. (The summer camp here doesn't need much help.) I'm trying to at least look like I'm busy, and this film noir-esque story is what I ended up with. I've been reading too much Calvin & Hobbes, apparently. (My favorite thing to do to make myself look busy is to type while glancing over to a blank piece of paper on the desk next to me. Makes me look like I'm typing up an important document or something. Big sighs from time to time help, too.)

Administrative Insisting

8:24 am. The broad out front is a pushy dame, always eyein' me, makin' me jumpy. I tell myself she's just doin' her job, but it doesn't help. Her name is Suzie. Or maybe Elaine. Never can keep those names straight. I call her Blondie in my head, Ma'am to her face.

My name's Terry. Secrah Terry. I got this gig a week ago, and it seemed like a glamorous deal. Sometimes I look back and wonder what I was thinking when I agreed to it.

Money. That's what I was thinking. They had it, I wanted it. So I said yes. Big mistake.

9:12am. This place is some sort of kiddie racket. They're either buyin' 'em or sellin' 'em, I can't figure out which. They seem to be trainin' 'em up for somethin'. Labor? Some sort of trafficking? They sing a lot of weird songs - maybe they're like the songs the slaves used to sing to pass on information. Maybe it's some kinda germ warfare. Kids are fulla germs. Cooties, too. All I'm saying is, you get kids interactin' like they is here, ya got trouble comin' to ya.

10:42am. The bossman came back this week. Wasn't here last week, so it was smooth sailin'. Now they're ridin' my tail, keepin' me from doin' what I wanna do - Solitaire ain't never been so solitary now that I can't play.

Sometimes all you want is to be left alone, but here, that doesn't happen. Someone's always on your back, sneakin' up on ya, makin' ya work when you'd rather be back at home with a good book and a frosty bottle of beer. Root beer, that is. Cream soda if ya got it.

11:37 am. The things they got me doin' - answerin' phones, organizing stuff, helpin' people. Some o' these people really cheese me off, too, with their incessant questions and bellyachin' 'bout the smallest things. So we lost their kid? Ain't our fault he's a curious type. Seems to me the parent should be blamed for that.

Next thing ya know they're gonna be goin' on 'bout how some kid stole their lunch. And shoes. So what if the kiddie thief was actually a teacher? Whadda they think, we do background checks on these people or somethin'? They come in, tell us they're good with kids, we give 'em a job. Capiche?

12:04pm. The dame out front just left with a bag of food. Good thing, too, way she was lookin' at me. I don't wanna cause any trouble unless someone is askin' for it. And let me tell ya, those shifty eyes of hers were fillin' out a request form.

12:16 pm. It's cold in here. Too cold. Somethin' tells me they're tryin' a new approach with the kiddies - freezin' 'em out.

12:22pm. Some broad in a pink shirt just came in askin' for keys. Wonder what they're lockin' up here? Or maybe I should ask who they're lockin' up. Good front really. Advertise some sorta camp, then lock 'em up and put 'em to work. Wonder what the penalty is for squealin'? My guess - melted ice cream in a soggy cone for snack next day. Nothin' worse'n that.

12:34pm. Pinky just brought the keys back. Maybe I shoulda asked her what she was lockin' up. No use, really. All she'd tell me is some cover story - toys for the kiddies or art supplies. Why bother, anyway? This gig ain't gonna last long, then I'm outta here.

12:38pm. I can hear someone shreddin' papers. What are they hidin'? Hmmm...sounds like they're doin' some kinda project with it. Arts and crafts? This joint is bafflin' me. Just when ya think ya got it figured out, they pull out somethin' tricky like arts and crafts. Maybe I pegged 'em all wrong. I don't think so, but maybe.

12:44pm. Blondie just walked in with an empty bag and a look of satisfaction on her face. I had a feeling she'd be back. What does she think it is, lunch time?

Oh, it is. Guess I'd better 23-skidoo. Gotta get somethin' to fill my empty belly...looks like it's gonna be a looong day.
(For more Calvin as Tracer Bullet, click on the comics above.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Worst Favor in the World

This past Sunday I made a possibly crazy decision. A friend of mine was selling his piano, and I thought to myself, "I've always wanted to learn, I'd like to buy a piano at some point in my life, and this is a pretty good deal...I'll buy it!" I woke up Monday morning feeling a slight sense of "What did I do?!" but recovered quickly.

It was later that day that I started thinking about logistics. That piano wasn't going to move itself, which meant that I was going to have to approach my friends, people who I think generally trust me, to help me move it. If you think about terrible favors to ask, I think that asking for help moving a piano would be at or near the top of the list.

I spent some time thinking about other favors that would be terrible to ask. Favors that are above and beyond the call of duty. (Don't worry, I won't ask any of you to do any of these. This week.) Here are some that I came up with:

-"Could you please give me one of your kidneys?"
-"Our house runs on bicycle power. Could you take a 6-hour shift?"
-"My spouse and I are going abroad for 6 months. Could you watch our 2 year-old octuplets while we're gone? Oh, and our 15 puppies?"
-"I dropped my wedding ring into that pool of hungry piranhas. Get it for me, please?"

And, of course, "Could you help me move a piano?" I've offered food bribes to my manly helpers, but somehow it doesn't feel sufficient. I suppose I'd better prepare myself to give up a kidney. It's only fair.

Have you ever asked someone/been asked to do a terrible favor? Please share. Maybe you'll make me feel better.