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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

6/14/04


As the election summer heats up I am plaugued with a few ideas about the current state of our American political landscape. The forth of July is near, Independence Day, it is a day for all citizens of this great land to celebrate our freedom. As a matter of fact I have recieved quite a few mailers from various fireworks outlets to that effect. I love explosives, therefore I am on quite a few mailing lists. It truly is a day to show good cheer and gratitude that we live where we do, and lighting up the sky is a perfect reflection of that. With our rockets red glare and our bombs bursting in air, us United Stations tend toward the dramatic in our patriotic fever. I love to eat a hot dog next to the gas grill, drunk on beer exclaming that, “I love America!” while I launch a bottle rocket at my best friends car. The nagging thought I have however, is that some of us Americans feel left out of the revelry.
Freedom is for everyone to indulge in, or not indulge in, and that is why it is called freedom. But in recent times I get the feeling that flag waving and gross negligence while handling explosives has become to many, a Republican domain. Nothing can be further from the truth. Even your biggest pinko communist in America has the right to put a cigarette in his childs hands an send him off with a pack of Black Cats and tell him to go and blow stuff up for their right to be a pinko commie in America. (I grew up in the 70’s, and using your mom’s smoke was indeeed the best way to set off explosives.) All I am saying is if you are left of center there is no need for you to not hold your banner high. We are all Americans, and we can all enjoy our holiday to the fullest.
In recent years it seems to me that people are growing farther apart on the political spectrum. The middle is being erased. This is only in Party affiliation and the way the media spins it. The people I know are the same people I live and work with everyday, except now they seem to be even more offended when you tell them you favor the other guy. Like it really matters. Just look at our current choice. Both candidates are rich dudes who went to the same Ivy League school. Niether one of them is affected in any way at how high the price of gas becomes. Neither one of them have ever had to choose between buying name brand or store brand coleslaw for thier picnic. Fuck those richie riches. They don’t know what it is like to be one of the regular people, so why should either of them be our leader?
I say that we ammend the constitution to only allow those people who went to state universities to run for the highest office. That way we know we’re getting a guy or girl who has tasted pot noodle at least once. Let’s take it even further, I say we make it a criteria of every candidate who runs for president to be locked up in prison for 24 hours. That way they can feel what it is like to be on the bottom rung of society. I’ll tell you what, I would definately feel better following our leader into war if I knew he had his ass pounded by an insane inmate. At least then when I looked into his eyes I could believe that he was a man who had experienced suffering in his own life and had the best intrests of our country in mind.
All I know for sure is that I love it here. This is where I was born and this is where I live. When Independence Day comes, I will be the first to cook my brautwursts, put on a Rolling Stones record and celebrate my butt off while drinking Heinekeins. I promise to set off fireworks until my neighbors yell at me to quit. “I love America.”


--Frank Candor

6/16/04



I applied for a job on the railroad. Now I know what you are all thinking, “Frank, you’re way to weird to work a total blue collar job like that.” And yes, that is a reasonable reponse, but I truly felt it was the perfect job for me. I could hear the kachunka chunk clang clang calling, I really could. I saw myself 30 years from now after a long career of driving trains, I saw myself at peace with the world, holding my head high and working all the various levers and doo-hickeys, I saw myself living the romantic dream of the 19th century in the 21st century. There I would stand, grey haired, and in overalls, waving to the children. But it isn’t going to happen. Let me tell you why.
For starters I am Frank Candor. I am way too contrarian to get a job like that anyway. Let’s just get down to the root of my blockade—aggressive anti-drug policy. You see the railroad is regulated by a body similar to the one that regulates airlines. It makes sense. You don’t want me flying your planes either. The thing about it is, I was expecting a drug test, and I even held off on my drug smoking a little in anticipation,. My dream of working on the railroad was that imposing. I thought I could sell myself in the interview, get my foot in the door, and then move on. I myself am sick and tired of the drug life that has consumed my life for my entire adulthood. I too felt, that if given this oppurtunity I would go to AA meetings religiously, start my family, and retire happily after a life of service. Maybe I would have, but I will never get the opportunity again.
Here’s what happened. I went to the job fair with my wife. She eagerly encouraged me, of course. I sent in my resume and I waited. Then, after a week, I recieved the invitation to take pre-employment testing. Testing was to begin PROMPTLY at 5pm, so I arrived a half hour early, and so did about 200 other people. When I saw how many other people there were my hope sank slightly. They were only hiring about 30 people for the position I applied for. At about 5:05 the doors opened and there was a mad rush to get inside, but we were told to sign in first and pick up pamphlets. I spent 20 grueling minutes in a chaotic crowd pushing and shoving to get to the sign-in sheet. And yes I shoved a bit myself, somehow thinking that it was part of the test to demonstrate that I wanted the job enough to bully my weight around. The mad crush of bodies is one of the realities in life that I avoid at all costs. It’s the reason I don’t go to rock shows anymore. But I endured it all the same. Toot toot, I could still hear the whistle blow.
While I was waiting for the doors to open I had the time to take a good look at the other applicants around me. I saw four women, but mostly I saw men. I saw fat, life ravaged men. Middle aged men desperate for a way out of their current lives. Young men were not as yet as fat, but still despondent. I saw blue collar gentlemen still wearing their gas station uniforms, hoping to find their dream job. I looked and I looked, but nobody seemed to have any flair. As a matter of fact besides myself I spotted only one other meterosexual looking guy in the group. He was a young kid, wearing a red button down with a skinny tie. I thought he looked fabulous. I knew I was entering a redneck arena, so I stole a page from my rural youth and was dressed as plain as I could muster for the event. I didn’t cut my hair, I didn’t take out my earrings, but I moisterized my face before I arrived. It was the least I could do.
After we had all sat down in the meeting room (there were still several people standing) a human resources guy started to tell jokes. He spoke breifly about the romantisism of the job and went instantly into safety. Safety was the crucible that the industry lit it’s candle by. Safety was all impotant. In the old days many people died in train accidents and in industry in general, so now they are very proactive. It went right to DRUGS KILL. I started to hear the toot toot fade. Basically he told the whole group that we were to be subjected to highly scientific hair sample drug analysis tests. Any questions? The red shirted kid raised his hand, “What substances specifically will be questioned.” He was very professional in his inquiry. His answer was ALL substances from the past 90 days, and then if you are considered for hire, more drug tests will happen. I was squirming in my seat. Not just because I had been in Jamaica last month, but because I knew I was totally fucked, no matter what. I couldn’t pass, my hair was too revealing.
This is when they did their “get out of jail free card” thing. The idea was to take a five minute recess and let those who felt they couldn’t pass the test leave gracefully. Gracefully, yeah right. As this recess started I went straight to my car, along with a group of others. I looked at these defectors in a new light. I saw that they were indeed my people. Fat and redneck as they were, they seemed much more friendly to me as we went slinking out toghther with all the other degenerates.
I hurried home and told my wife my sad tale. She had smoked pot with me last month in Jamaica and nodded her head in saddness, for it would have been the perfect job for me. Now I have to think about all the jobs I can get where drug use is an asset. I could be a rock star, or a polititician, I guess. The only thing I could think of right off was to write about the experience. Toot toot.

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