It has recently come to my attention that I am a peon. I am what the government refers to as underemployed. Several weeks ago I took a position as a temporary employee at well known juice factory. Temporary employee is a polite way of saying peon. When you’re a temporary employee the following things happen:
- You do peon work.
- You’re talked to as if you’re a peon.
- People explain things to you with Sesame Street level of instruction, to insure that your peon brain will understand.
- Occasionally you get peed on. (Evidently the width of a standard urinal is not sufficient for containing the splatter of one particular employee.)
- You work long and odd hours.
Another result of the long and odd hours I’ve worked, is that for the past several weeks I have virtually disappeared from the blogging world. The great irony of the situation being that my position as a peon, has provided me with grist for several posts.
So here goes:
His name was Bill, and I had just met him five minutes ago. I was my first day on the job, and I was helping him sort parts. We worked in silence for a few minutes before he turned to me and spoke the words that are now seared onto my brain, “Yeah. I’ve only got one testicle.”
He said it with stunning nonchalance, as if it was a normal way to start a conversation.
I gaped stupidly at him. I honestly didn’t know how to respond. It certainly wasn’t how I would choose to introduce myself to someone I had just met. I seldom feel the need to work my testicles into any conversation, at any time, whether I know the person or not.
He looked at me expectantly, as if he was waiting for me to say, “great, tell me more about your testicles, or lack of them, I’m keen to hear.”
Several possible responses flipped rapidly through my mind:
- Was there an accident, or were you born a freak?
- Left one or right one?
- Does it make you walk in circles?
- Great. Straight to the weirdest thing possible.
- I think I’ll work on the other side of the room.
- Oh. That’s why the guy called you One-balled Bill.
- I really didn’t need to know that. Ever.
I said none of those things. I replied by saying the stupidest thing my peon brain could come up with: “I have two of them?” And yes, I said as a question. I’m still not certain why I felt confused about it, but I did. Pure Brilliance. Right?
He looked at me like I was an idiot. I felt like an idiot. There was that inevitable awkward silence that occurs when two men discuss their testicles for the first time.
“I was out working in my garage,” he began to tell me, unwavered by my idiocy, “when I thought to myself, this would be a good time to try out my new nail gun.”
I wish I could relate this story to you in detail, but I cannot. I have blotted most of it from my memory, in what I assume to be a subconscious act of self-defense.
I can write one thing with relative certitude: it was not a good time to try out his new nail gun.
I spent the remainder of the night with one overriding thought in my mind: please don’t offer to show me a scar.
THE NEXT POST: The disturbing part of my conversation with Bill.