2011-03-04 / Letters

Stimulus In The Rockaways

Dear Editor,

Several months ago I was summoned into the office of my boss. Visions of a big promotion, or maybe a company financed cruise to the Virgin Islands danced in my head. But I was informed that after several productive and successful years our company was downsizing.

My former boss mumbled something about, “the economy” as I leapt Jackie Chan-like across his desk and plunged his “No. 1 Boss” statuette into his right eyeball. I stifled his screams for help by stuffing my pink slip down his fat throat. A smile of work satisfaction crossed my serene face.

In reality I accepted my termination with calm and steady professionalism. I said my goodbyes to my friends and colleagues, and then I took my employee of the month awards and hit the bricks. I thought maybe a couple of weeks and I’d have a better job.

I soon realized that I was swallowed into a massive sea of unemployed Americans. I’d spend several hours every day applying for jobs on the Internet, government jobs, local jobs, circus jobs, jobs from across the globe. I made telephone calls, and sent out numerous letters.

I wrote resumes for my many real and imaginary skills. My life’s accomplishments or lack thereof were too much to record on one sheet of paper. The sheer magnitude of my magnificence would probably cause any would-be employer’s head to explode. So I wrote up resumes for dozens of jobs including basket weaver (my only A in college). There was an opening for basket weaver in Nepal, India. I passed on it after finding out I would have had to pay for my own relocation expenses.

I sought advice from friends, family, former colleagues, captains of industry, captains of ships, and Captain Morgan. Still I sunk deeper into the disgruntled sea of unemployed Americans.

A desperate mosaic of malcontents whittling away their miniscule life savings on white paper, computer ink, recruiters’ fees, dry cleaning, aspirin, Maalox, and resoled shoes. All either too old to join the Army or too young to file for social security, and too stupid or stubborn to die. If there weren’t cameras everywhere I think the vast sea of the unemployed would be robbing banks. But did banks still have money?

I found a million different reasons why I was unemployable. I was under qualified for a job or I was over qualified for the same job. I wasn’t educated enough, I wasn’t ethnic enough, I wasn’t disabled, and I wasn’t a veteran. All government jobs had hiring freezes unless you had a politician in your pocket.

I went on interviews where fifty of my clones got interviewed for a single job opening. The clones and I were told that someone inside was lined up for the job but that by law candidates (clones) had to be interviewed prior to the already picked candidate being appointed.

Another day wasted, day number 17155. At least the clones and I went to the park and ate our bagged lunches and fed the clone pigeons prior to heading back to our PCs and the dreaded Internet.

In my bare apartment my fax machine sat silent. My telephone sat sadly un-rung. My calls went unanswered, messages unreturned. A drowning man thrown a life ring, I think not, maybe an anchor. Further I sunk into the smelly, frothing dank sea.

I, a simple man, some say “very simple,” some say “borderline,” had three goals in my life; to never wake up in an eight by ten room with bars on the windows, never go on unemployment, and to dance with my daughters on their wedding days. Recently I crumbled like Beach Channel Drive into Jamaica Bay and filed for unemployment.

I felt like a mouse, a man with only two goals in life is not a man! I’ve heard rumors of three square meals a day in prison, and free cable TV! I’d find myself standing outside of banks salivating like Homer Simpson. I thought, is goal two going to crash and burn also for room, board and free cable? Would I finally see HBO! Daily I’d still do several hours on the PC mainly to get frustrated and practice my cursing.

Pity there are no jobs for foulmouthed brutes, I think I could beat fifty other guys for that one. “@#$ @%^&**% @**&%$%”!

Finally I found hope. I read in a daily paper (I swear I was looking for work) that a study had determined that cell phones are curing Alzheimer’s disease in mice. I thought, who is making cell phones so small mice can use them, and who are the mice calling, and who are calling the mice?

But if cell phones can cure Alzheimer’s disease in mice, maybe someone can invent a cure for unemployment. You have to wonder why are they always curing mice, what about people? There must be a strong mouse lobby.

I hear there’s a huge stimulus ship adrift out there somewhere, but I haven’t seen it. I think like the ferry it doesn’t dock in Rockaway anymore. Everywhere the sea pushes me I drift past desolate storefronts. I recall the once smiling, happy hardworking people who worked in the tomb-like buildings. I look for their faces in the mighty sea. 800 Billion dollars where did it go? On every interview, every cattle call, every false hope I keep a wary eye watching out for affluent mice on cell phones. “Hey Mickey, Minnie, Mighty, Tom (or is it Jerry?) can you help a drowning man out?”

“Can you spare a bum a dime?”

Good luck to all my compadres floaters searching for the Stimulus.

ARTEMUS FUNCAY

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