Wednesday, May 10, 2006


We now turn our attention to 1867 Texas Ranch House and the spectacular ability of its homesteading family, the Cookes, to turn me from hoping for them to make a jolly go of it to rooting for a mass scalping. I have never started liking a group of people and so quickly and thoroughly come to wish for their utter destruction. By the end of the series the only castmembers' welfare I was interested were those of the cows. GO COWS.

The Cooke family was spawned by a hospital comptroller, Bill, who obtained his MBA from a Successories. Bill was a crappy, crappy ranchowner. In fact, Bill is likely also a crappy, crappy comptroller, considering that his ledger was totally missing pages and he didn't record half the transactions going down with traders. Granted, I balance my checkbook by way of swiping the debit card and going "Eh, somebody will let me know if I don't have enough to cover this," but still. I don't make a living of supervising other peoples' money.

Pa Cooke also decided that it would be a super-good idea to allow his sole female servant, Maura, to tag along with the cowboys' cattle drive. But not as a cook. When asked why she would not cook, Pa said, by way of explanation, "She's a vegetarian." Ah. Well, that explains why she decided to dedicate three months of her life to a project focused solely on the slaughter of cattle.

Maura, you will be shocked to hear, is a PhD candidate at Stanford. She--directly quoting here-- "would like to be a hero to all the women." PBS thought this a grand thing and placed an enormous picture of her in a hat and bandana on the front page of its website. Well, good thing we don't need Susan B. Anthony anymore. We've got Maura! And her hat! I don't know about you, but when I need a heroine, the first place I run is my nearest reality show participant.

I'm trying to suss out what exactly upset me so much about these people--who managed to get the entire staff to quit en masse, which... that takes some effort-- when I realized that it was just the post traumatic stress order kicking in.

We freelance writers typically stitch together a patchwork resume to bring home the health insurance until Hollywood calls for the movie rights of our latest collection of free verse poems about the 1984 Winter Olympics double luge competition. Name a job involving a uniform shirt, a name tag, a training video: I have held it.

Before I started teaching, whenever I came across a tyrant of a time card signer, I usually made plans to light out for kinder, gentler minimum wage territory as soon as humanly possible. That escape hatch jammed, however, the summer I socked myself into a Colorado ranch two hours from the nearest airport and eight billion light years from sane human contact.

While preparing to leave, I described the place as something akin to a City Slickers setup without the need to birth calves with Jack Palance; once I got there, I began to ache for an employer with Jack’s comparative warm and comforting presence.

I worked as a cabin girl, pitching soapy water while the wranglers down in the corral pitched substances far less genteel. Fine: it was honest work and in the middle of scenery you can’t factor into a paycheck. What wasn’t fine was—and bear in mind, this is but a single example—moments such as the day I was ordered to de-scum a shower stall, one that had clearly not been visited by Mr. Clean since, at the earliest, the Hoover Administration. I spent the morning on my knees, I won the war on hard water stains and I reported to the wife half of the owner team-- she attended the Wicked Stepmother School of Management--and as she observed the miracle of sterilization I had achieved there in that Rocky Mountain shower stall:

“Next time,” she said, “don’t use so many paper towels.”

Then there was the time when I was told to sweep the dirt paths leading to the cabins, which I did, and then the male half of the Nightmare On Witch Mountain said, "Can you get rid of all the little rocks?" somehow unaware of the fact that the whole entire mountain on which the ranch was sitting a bunch of little rocks. Get to work! You sweep the entire Front Range out of existence right now!

Their finest hours, however, came when they worked as a couple. It was a particularly delightful evening when they had a screaming fight in the middle of a staff meeting. A true shame John Denver did not live to write a song inspired by the sound of "YOU JUST GO BACK TO NEW JERSEY THEN, BITCH!!" ringing amongst the pines.

I was gone within three weeks. Another staff member running for his life and I piled into a pickup truck with Male Half when he went into Colorado Springs to run errands, and if you felt somewhat uncomfortable at some point in early June of 1998, it was due to the enormous Suckhole of Awkwardness those silent two hours created.

I was owed some back wages, and once back on glorious Ohio soil, where the rocks at least behave themselves in a rational fashion, I called the owners to ask for it. A week later, an envelope arrived. With an invoice demanding $248 for "airport taxi services."

The finest bosses, I think we can all agree, are those who provide the employees with free liquor at the 10 AM coffee break. When the time is right and I am in charge (by “in charge,” I mean as in, “of the whole entire world”), there will be plenty of paper towels for everyone.

moo at:


susan said...

Can you be the boss real soon. Please?

mand_a_lion said...

I remember well a job consisting of a uniform, a name tag, minimum wage and even less respect. My fabulous boss supplied champagne to everyone who had to work New Year's Eve. We'd enter an order for the cook and go to the break room for a swig straight out of a bottle with our names on it. *sigh* Now THAT was a boss who set a good employer example.

Sachin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
amy lou the reader said...

My worst job was McDonald's. I was an accessory to every drug crime known to man just by stepping in the break room. After two months I quit. And I didn't buy a burger from the place until I was sure the natural rate of overturn had removed everyone I worked with three employees ago.

SuperBlitz said...

MB-- As usual. You are fantastic!
My horrific job: Enter room full of piles of papers. Put said pieces of paper into order by invoice number (handwritten on dusty carbon paper). We're talking piled to my chest bedroom-sized storage room amounts of paper. Once I thought the job was done, they got the money so I could scan them onto disk for their record with a scanner that took 3 minutes per page.

I lost a lot of blood from my fingers that summer.

The best part was when I got to burn all the paper and dance around the flames once the job was done. Crappy job, crappy pay, fantastic boss.

Another reason I had to comment:
Mand_a_lion-- I had no idea that anyone else has ever been called that! My father has been calling me that since my infancy and it just stuck with everyone else. I love it! (Just don't DARE call me Mandy [shudder])

Cbell said...

I will happily be your assistant when you take over the world. I'd like to do that too... but I don't want all the responsibility, so I'll just hang on to your coattails.

Worst job: Wal-Mart. I last all of three days. As I was busily vacuuming the ladies wear department (after having mucked out the changing rooms... and I do mean there were some skanky things going on in those rooms) the assistant manager of the store stood right in front of me and the sweeper and dropped ashes from his burning cigarette on the floor and determined that I had "missed a spot".

I won't now repeat my answer to him, but needless to say, the WM smock was left at the time clock and I never went back.

Lynn M said...

Everyone on the planet should be required to perform at least one month of waiter/waitress duty to learn the humility of servitude and how to treat those poor souls with some respect for ever after. Even better for them to work the graveyard shift at the local Perkins, where every drunk within a 10 mile radius wanders in after the bars close to slop coffee all over the table, order revolting biscuits and gravy only to vomit all over the industrial-grade carpeting. Add in the truckers that show up at 4:30 a.m. looking for a grin and a giggle, all of it while wearing a polyester uniform that depicts the entire settling of the Wild Wild West in shades of burnt orange, brown, and mustard yellow and you are talking Big Time Fun.

I tell you, to this day - some twenty years later - I still can't eat at a Perkins. I KNOW what goes on behind those closed kitchen doors.

Lynn M said...

PS - I see now by the poor construction of my sentence that some may be imagining big truckers wearing ugly polyester uniforms. Now, I have no idea what kind of uniform is currently de riguer in the trucking industry these days, but it was I who was wearing the lovely wrap-around skirt and flirty little mustard yellow blouse with the peter pan collar. The uniform that always smelled like days-old deep-fryer grease no matter how many tons of Downy or dozens of fabric softner sheets tossed into the dryer.

Ah. Memories.

Dantelope said...

I'm pretty sure Pinky left me Brain's forwarding address... he might have some plans you can use, MB.

red pill junkie said...

Don't complain so much MB, At least you HAD a bathroom at the ranch, right? ;-)

But hnoestly, I do belive the best employers are the ones who experienced in the flesh all the misery of being an employee. Unfortunately, some people feel like they were predestined by God Almighty to be masters of the universe.

HelloBettyLou said...

Hell job: Barista at Starbucks. Do you have any idea what it's like to be chewed out at 5:30am (manager and customers).

Duration of said Hell: 6 weeks.

Only perk: Cute Barista boys.

Dantelope said...

My worst job was working for a wire and tube manufacturing company.

Was hired to do data entry. Sexually harrassed by women employees ("oooh, do a little turn and let us see that cute butt!"). Being a teenager, took it in stride. Wiggled a bit.

Shortly after (like 2 days), was asked to come help in the plant because they were shorthanded. Ended up spending many days wearing hearing protection and doing menial metal bending tasks or moving heavy loads.

What a quick way to learn why many people want to put a bullet in their brains!

The beauty is I was laid off 4 weeks into the job. Blessings!

appleton said...

God I hated Texas Ranch House too because of the Cookes. What worthless scum.

Jcat2323 said...

Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Dantelope said...

Um... I think so, Brain, but what if the chicken won't wear the nylons?

thebuxomwench said...

I'm so sorry you went through that, but ... oh Lordy, your telling of it is hilarious.

Forever now, whenever John Denver begins yodelling his way through my radio airwaves (which, undoubtedly, will not be often) I will hear: "YOU JUST GO BACK TO NEW JERSEY THEN, BITCH!" instead of loving you-fill-up-my-senses twangs.

Oh how YOU fill up our senses with your writing and mirth, MB ... well done :).

Anonymous said...

Thank you :) The entire crapfest was worth it if I could make somebody else laugh about it.

Anonymous said...

Um..I think so, Brain, But where would we ever find rubber pants in our size?

OK Lady, love you, bye-bye!


Anonymous said...

If you post more twisted rantings, I'll love you more! (big round pretty please eyes) :) PLEASE??

I know that you're busy, but I LOVE you thoughts, reading them here or there. Keep up the good work!


Jenib said...

You know, I read an abbreviated version of this story on another forum. I wondered if this was you because the writing style was close.

Now I

Not a stalker,


P.S. I need to add to the post from lynn...everyone should waitress at least once and do it in a language the staff knows nothing about. LOL.

Anonymous said...

Master Kenobi wants to protect his Lady and says... you WILL forget you ever saw that ;)

Jenib said...

MB, it was the Kenobi that gave it away....lolol.

Previous Tastings