Wednesday, December 22, 1999
My New Job
"Winter is not a season,
it's an occupation."
Went to bed last night tired from all the caroling, but it was a good tired
in the sense that fatigue is a good, non-chatty companion and exhaustion
is a great contraceptive. If that doesn't quite make sense, it's
probably because I'm still tired. Seems my body has finally
found something it's good at and has no intention of letting go.
It hasn't helped that I woke this morning to find myself enmeshed in a
new career - that of Winter peon. Old Man Winter actually arrived
at my home at 2:45 a.m. and made me an indentured servant while I slept
on unawares. (Having tried sleeping awares once as a child and finding
it terribly stressful, I've never tried it again.) Apparently the
seasons continue to have the power to draft us into their army of servants
in exchange for no pay, no time off, and damn few health benefits.
I'd have filed a grievance with the U.S. department of Labor - I really
would have - if only Winter hadn't forced me to get busy doing his bidding
immediately at calendar-point....
First order of business: Body temperature regulation.
That's never been my strong suit. Although I went to a vocational
high school, I majored in Radio & TV Repair - not Basic Body Functions.
Despite this admitted handicap, I've generally been able to fake it three
seasons out of four, but Winter - Winter is so demanding. I've frozen
my butt off so many times I finally left it in the snow back in 1995 and
was fitted with a twin-cheek prothesis. It works pretty well, but
observant humans and the average dog can tell that I need to press a button
implanted in my wrist whenever I need to fart. If I had it to do
over again, I'd pay the extra $5.95 and gotten one with the electronic
AFF (auto-flatulation function). That way I'd never have to worry
about accidentally blowing my head off by napping too long.
Second order of business: Finding enough food and furs to complete the
first order of business faster so that the third order of business (hibernation)
can be mastered before lunch. Unfortunately, I'm stuck with a body
whose previous job experience in this area is pretty much limited to eating
nuts and berries in warm, sunny climes under a pretty lax supervisor by
the name of Evolution. Winter's expecting the likes of me to survive
its freezing rages is the equivalent of me forcibly using a toothbrush
to paint a house. I suppose it can be done, given enough time and
energy, but I don't think anyone's gonna be too pleased with the results.
The best I could do today in the food and furs department was grab a bag
of Fritos and slip into some polyester pants I first wore in 1976 and am
sure are bound to come back into style any day now. If Winter doesn't
approve he can kiss my prothesis.
Third order of business: Yes, that's right - hibernation. I
know it's not a job Winter had in mind when he sucked me into his maw but
it caught my eye on the Openings bulletin board and I figured what the
hay - I've been to college and what's hibernation but an elongation of
the longest class you've ever had? I had real high hopes - all the
higher since friends and family have been telling me all my life that sleep
is what I do best - but they all came crashing down tonight when I learned
that the position had been given to a transient chipmunk. A chipmunk!
A small, rat-like mammal that I've never, ever seen answer a single question
correctly on "Jeopardy!"
I was crushed. So crushed that I probably would have bugged out for
a temp job with the southern hemisphere's Summer, Inc. had a well-dressed
man not button-holed me by the frost dispenser and offered me the job of
being his Personal Toboggan. I think that's a far north term for
Personal Assistant. Whatever it is, it's got to be better than this
dead end, little toe on the snowman position I've got now, especially since
he assured me that I'd no longer have to worry about pulling my own weight.
If Autumn had only written me a better recommendation, I'm sure I would
have gotten the job of Personal Toboggan in the first place, but I refuse
to ooooo and ahhhh over silly colored leaves just to get ahead.
I may be a poor body temp regulator but I still have my pride.
(©1999 by Dan Birtcher in a vain attempt
to restore circulation in his hands)