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July 2024

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Emergency Preparedness: Are You Ready?
05/28/2024

Farewell from the 2023/24 Social Work Interns
05/28/2024

Gina on the Horizon
05/28/2024

Mark Your Calendars for the Healthy Aging Research California Virtual Summit
05/28/2024

Meet Our New Development Associate
05/28/2024

Putting the Strategic Plan into Practice
05/28/2024

Washington Park: Pasadena’s Rediscovered Gem
05/28/2024

Introducing Civil Rights Discussions
05/22/2024

Rumor of Humor #2416
05/14/2024

Rumor of Humor #2417
05/14/2024

Rumor of Humor #2417
05/14/2024

Rumor of Humor #2418
05/14/2024

Springtime Visitors
05/07/2024

Freezing for a Good Cause – Credit, That Is
05/02/2024

No Discussion Meeting on May 3rd
05/02/2024

An Apparently Normal Person Author Presentation and Book-signing
05/01/2024

Flintridge Center: Pasadena Village’s Neighbor That Changes Lives
05/01/2024

Pasadena Celebrates Older Americans Month 2024
05/01/2024

The 2024 Pasadena Village Volunteer Appreciation Lunch
05/01/2024

Woman of the Year: Katy Townsend
05/01/2024

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Nashville

By Jim Hendrick
Posted: 06/10/2024
Tags: jim hendrick

The summer after high school graduation was like having money burning a hole in my pocket.  Not that I had any money.   All I had was a burning desire for something to happen.  Shit was happening everywhere.  Vietnam was a teenage death trap.  The South was a killing ground for Black people and anyone who fought against racism.  The West, especially San Francisco, was my Mecca.  The kingdom of free love and openness.  New York seemed like a monster that would consume me alive.  Here I was, stuck somewhere in the middle.  

Nothing good was happening around here.   Clint died a week after graduation.  His super sharp ‘62 Impala couldn't make that turn on old Book Road.  He slammed sideways into a big Elm tree.  Clint had graduated a year before.  Also, he stole my girlfriend Sophomore year.  But still, he was really alright.  It's a huge bummer he croaked.  It seemed none of our options were much good.  

The parents were really pretty cool.  They felt relieved I had finally committed to attending university in the Fall.  I could deal with that only if I could get out this summer.  I didn't tell them that but I felt it quite strong.

Searching the Want Ads for a week to no avail left me frustrated and cranky.  Hanging out at Hank’s Cafe one morning, I ran into Mario, a dude I'd worked with at Colonel Sanders Fried Chicken the year before.  Mario was the chief line cook.  Me, a lowly dishwasher.  Mario usually called me kid.  We sipped caffeine and shot the shit for awhile.  We agreed completely that our prospects were far from top notch.  Into my third cup, a classified jumped out from the morning paper I was pursuing  ‘Looking for bright, energetic go-getters.  No cold calling, appointments only.  No out of town travel.  Guaranteed $100 a week to start.’  “Check this out, Mario.”  He wasn't interested.  He was still with The Colonel. There was a pay phone a block from Hank’s.  I called the number listed in the ad and made an appointment for 2pm.

The appointment was with Bob Blanding Enterprises.  Bob approached me like I was a long lost friend.  Bob gathered the 6 of us that showed up by 3pm.

“Gentlemen, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I possess the rights to a revolutionary household machine. ”  He proudly produced a metallic box.  It had a cool space age look.  “This is the Atomic Toaster.   It is the easiest and fastest way ever conceived to toast anything ”  We were all nodding like fools  We were just eager, over-eager really, for something good to happen in our lives  Bob latched on to our collective fear and sold us on possibilities.  

3 guys ducked out after Bob finished.  I stuck around.  The other 2 seemed to know each other.  I hung back and waited to see how Bob would deal with us.  He was on the telephone for quite a while.  

“OK guys, I'm guessing you are interested since you've signed the contract for the next 8 weeks. ”

Again, we were nodding like puppets.  

“Well, it's a simple deal, really  Show up tomorrow, here, at 8 am.”

The 3 of us awkwardly ambled outside  There were a few folks, male and female, hanging out as we exited the building  I assumed Bob was recruiting an army.  This was shaping up like a life changing adventure or an ill advised and thoroughly unproductive catastrophe.  I was game to go with the flow.  

I didn't have a ride to the job for tomorrow, so I called Lance, who worked at the A & W near my meetup  Sometimes, it helps to have friends  Lance dropped me off right on time.  I would have to make time to call Felicia about staying with her  

“Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.”  Bob was standing behind a long table  With Bob were 2 other men.  “I see we have our space age marketing team. ”  We all sat around the long table.  The 2 gentlemen with Bob handed us each a notebook.  “I want you to become completely familiar with our revolutionary product and how to sell it.  Each of you, separately, will study the notebook for the next 30 minutes. ”  He nodded his large head vigorously,  “After 30 minutes, we will see who has our sales approach and who doesn't. ”  

I was startled.  I didn't realize this was a competition.  Fear clouded my mind for the entire 30 minutes  

“OK, folks, myself and my colleagues will meet with each of you to determine your suitability for our enterprise.”

I paid no attention to what was happening with any other candidate.  I concentrated only on being friendly and smart.  I hoped that would be enough since I remembered almost nothing about the product.  

“Well, young fella, are you sure you're 18?

“Yes, sir.”

“You got a real nice smile.  You're hard.”

“I'm what?”

“Hard, you're on, congrats.” 

I became the nodding puppet again.  

The dude was at least as old as my old man and never expressed any emotion.  He held both arms out with palms up, “OK, show up at 8 o’clock tamra mornin’.  Capeesh?”

This man truly frightened me.  It was like he was strangling me with his eyes.  All I could manage was a squeaky, “thanks.”.

I awkwardly offered a handshake which my interviewer ignored.  He eagerly waved over another candidate while I exited.

It was chilly the next morning as the 6 of us, 1 female and 5 males waited.  15 minutes stretched to 30.  One of the guys left.  The woman went back to her car to wait.  Finally, one of Bob’s colleagues, not my interviewer, showed up in a large, old model, dirty black Mercury with a red driver’s side door.  He unlocked the glass door to the building without saying a word.  The 5 of us followed him inside.  

“Alright, y'all jest wait here  Bob’ll be here soon to tell y'all what we're doin’.”  He folded his arms and leaned against the unpainted wall.

There were folding chairs scattered throughout the room.  Each of us found a chair.  I just stared at the floor.  The room was littered with construction materials and old coffee cups.  I kept trying to will myself into tranquility.

The minutes dragged by.  The man with the keys disappeared through an inside door.  We started looking at one another, collectively wondering if a big joke, or something worse, was being perpetrated on us.  All of us seemed afraid to speak.  I know I was.  Maybe, there was no reason to be friendly in this more adult world.  Friendliness must be a sign of weakness, I surmised.

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