[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 017
Chapter 6 (4 of 4): The Educators
But as everybody was desperate for programmers who knew a little more about coding than secretaries rushed off into ten week programming classes in local junior colleges, I got another job the next day, this time at a branch of a national retailing outlet. It took me about a week to figure out the management was doing a soft tap-dance around the inventories and massaging the local sales figures. I mean, it wasn’t exactly Enron or Worldcom stuff, but I made it clear I wasn’t about to become a ‘team-player’. They put me to work on maintenance of mailing labels for the catalog department, and that old COBOL job started to take on a retrospective glow of supreme challenge. Before I gave immediate notice I put on gloves and executed my own version of team-play by hacking into that data-lode and copying some damaging files to disks, packing them in cardboard, and depositing them in a brown clasped envelope that I sealed with a Q-tip dipped in a little 1988 Chateau Pétrus my father had given me for graduation a year ago. Then, my gloves still on, I slapped a laser-printed mailing label on the front. I drove down to Virginia Beach for a relaxing few days of sand and surf and – just incidentally – from that fun city’s central post office purchased the required postage, had the clerk frank my envelope, and mailed the incriminating data to the comptroller at the home office.
Don’t tread on me, baby!
Next I thought I’d put my M.A. in classics to work. That proved to be a lot harder, since people who knew Latin and ancient Greek weren’t in real high demand that hot summer of 1994. But finally I did end up with a job that was even more frustrating: copy editor for a slick magazine called simply The City. You know the type, like Chicago, New York, New Orleans, AnycityUSA. Lots of fluff and froth, pretty photos, colorful ads, best lawyers, best doctors, best dentists, best whatevers, self-congratulatory pieces, cutesy write-ups on restaurants, trendy bars, museums, and theaters. All the usual suspects.
The pay was atrocious. But I could have handled that if the hotshots with degrees in Communications Studies and English who were writing English had, 1), known how to write English, and, 2), not become hysterical when I turned with my ruthless red pencil on their immortal schlock. These were college graduates, many of them with an M.A., who didn’t know the difference between ‘lie’ and ‘lay’ (resulting in some – to say the least – infelicitous expressions), regularly confused comparative constructions with correlative ones, were wholly persuaded that ‘who’ and ‘whom’ were syntactic allomorphs, felt that ‘between you and I’ sounded much more elevated than my clumsy suggestion of ‘between you and me’ but also felt that ‘you and me went to movies’ was just fine, were surprised to learn that modern English verbs still had principal parts and an operational subjunctive, thought a gerund might be a new flavor of ice cream, were thoroughly confused about the difficulties inherent in distinguishing between ‘its’ and ‘it’s’, wouldn’t recognize a periodic sentence if it went swimming naked in their Starbucks latte, and so on and on and on untill I truely thoht I wuld lay on the flour as long than a purson whom one sieze iss tire and screem too hie heven. And when, hurt and abused, they drove off to their bosses whining and complaining about my snobbish insensitivity to their ‘stylistic integrity’, well, as you know, out there the shit still runs downhill, which is exactly where I was parked in this garage of absurdity.
By December I was starting to think seriously about quitting the magazine and looking for work at MacDonald’s.
But, finally, believing that where there are lemons, no matter how sour, there is always an opportunity for good lemonade, I took a happy step that was beyond morality, a decision based purely on a rational economic calculus. For in the course of my increasingly futile efforts at trying to tone down if not correct the turgid fustian of the morons who were the magazine’s “writers” I had taken interested note of the many pages of advertising that filled the back pages of each issue. Among the genres was one that addressed the perennial question of female companionship of various sorts. I was intrigued.
I started calling, from pay phones, the numbers listed. I wanted to find out more. I began applying all my research acumen honed at such great financial and emotional cost in the academic trenches of the last six years and got busy at the Schwann and on the Internet, just starting to come into its own. Here, I discovered, lay vast continents of untapped opportunity for an educated, mentally nimble and physically beautiful person such as myself.
One day early in the new year I decided to make a new beginning. I got up the chutzpa to visit one of these locales in a pretty good part of town. The lady in charge, a late fortyish woman named Yvonne who still had some Jamaica in her pronunciation, was pretty nice to me. And very straight. I mean, who was I, and what did I know? After looking me up and down and finding out a little more about my educational background, she said, “I’d love to book you here, mama, but to be honest, you could do a lot better elsewhere. You’re class, and class should never sell itself short.” She tore off a piece of paper from a perforated business ledger she had in front of her on the desk. She wrote down a number and handed it to me. “Call Michelle at this number and tell her I sent you.”
That was over eight years ago.
And now I’m on my way to The Parisian for my last date of the day.
TO BE CONTINUED