A To Z Challenge – M

Challenge2017

Please don’t let me be misunderstood, by The Animals.  (Click for YouTube)

letter-m

Worse than being misunderstood, is being misidentified.  Those of you who know me, know that my name is not John Smith, but it’s almost that common.

I once worked with a young woman named Kauffeldt, a very non-common German name meaning ‘a purchased field’. She came to Kitchener from a town north of Ottawa, the equivalent of a 6-hour drive, because – that’s where the jobs were.

She started dating a guy, then they were ‘going steady’, then after a year, they got engaged. I thought that I should show at least a little bit of interest, and asked his name.  She told me that he was Barry, but managed to pronounce it more like Bawry, than berry.

As the wedding approached, I asked what her married name would be, and she told me that it would be Kauffeldt. “You’re not going to keep your maiden name are you??”  A hundred years ago, two brothers settled on opposite sides of a lake….and the families lost contact.

Barry was a 4th or 5th cousin, who lived in a different township.  They went to different elementary and secondary schools.  He also came down here for a job, and they met in Kitchener.  Talk about not even needing to change the monograms on the linen – she didn’t have to change her driver’s licence, or any other official paperwork.

My more common name though, has caused misunderstandings, if not actual problems.

I went to my dentist, to have some work done on a lower, right molar. The tech bustled in, and gave me a shot of Novocaine in my upper left jaw.  When I asked why, we found that another ‘John Smith’ had moved into the neighborhood.  She had his file, and I got his shot.  Then, of course, I got my own Novocaine shot, and spent the rest of the day with my face falling off.  I’ve since learned to provide address, Social Insurance Number, telephone, and/or birth date, to prevent this sort of thing.

On a street I once lived on, a house was built on the last empty lot, 8 houses past mine. One day I got a letter from a lawyer, threatening to sue ‘John Smith’ for cutting down a tree.  John Smith the contractor was from a small town, 25 miles away.  Shouldn’t someone know this?  When I called the lawyers office, the clerk alibied that, “We thought it was a work-site address.”

About 2:00 AM one Saturday morning, as the wife and I were watching a late movie, the phone rang. “Hey, this is Guido.  I’m checking in.”  That’s nice Guido.  Why are you calling me?  “Ain’t you John Smith, my parole officer?  I lost my contact information, so I looked you up in the book.”   Shortly after that, we put the phone in the wife’s name, and list it with just her initials.

One evening the phone rang, and when I answered it, a very irate man threatened to come over to my house and “punch your f**kin’ lights out.” Why would you want to do that?  “Halfway to the next town, my f**kin’ transmission fell out.”  And what does that have to do with me?  “Well, aren’t you John Smith, of John’s Transmissions?”  No sir, and next time, take a business card, or better yet, take your car to Mister Transmission.

Fifty years ago, when I took my Government-operated Academic Upgrading/Business Practices course, I may have been a bit more intelligent and educated than the run-of-the-mill factory/fisheries/ lumber crowd. I was dragooned into being the Acting Office Administrator for two weeks, while the real one (finally) enjoyed a much-earned vacation.

With a strong, independent Mother, it was amusing yet disturbing, that there were still bastions where a 22-year-old kid made executive decisions and directed 3 competent middle-aged female clerks – because men ran offices, and told women what to do.

Later, I found myself supervising and teaching several classes per day of a Basic Business Machines course, for six weeks, while they located and hired a replacement for a teacher who’d found a better job.

Shortly after I graduated, my Adult Education Program was absorbed, and officially renamed Conestoga College Continuing Education. About ten years ago, just before we put the phone in the wife’s name initials, I answered it one day.  A man queried, “John Smith?”  ….Uh, yeah.  “From Adult Education?”  What do I respond to that?

It turns out that it was a new student, trying to reach a newly-hired instructor named ‘John Smith.’ Apparently, unofficially, the old Adult Education name was still being used, to encourage mature students.

Call me anything you want, just don’t call me late for dinner – but please be sure, when you do call me, that I’m the Me you really meant to call.   😳

***

My apologies!  I should have posted this under the title A For Alzheimer’s, or F For Forgetful, or wait and publish it under R For Rerun.  I knew it sounded familiar.  We did it before, and, apparently ‘we’ (I) did it again.  This is an almost word-for word repeat of ‘Oh Yeah? Name One!‘ which you can click on below if you want to leave a comment, ridiculing my memory.  Sorry about that.  New material coming soon.   😳

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Workin’ Like A Dog

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A local business was looking for office
help. They put a sign in the window,
stating the following: “Help Wanted.
Must be able to type, must be good with
a computer and must be bilingual. We
are an Equal Opportunity Employer.”

A short time afterwards, a dog trotted
up to the window, saw the sign and went
inside. He looked at the receptionist
and wagged his tail, then walked over
to the sign, looked at it and whined.

Getting the idea, the receptionist got
the office manager. The office manager
looked at the dog and was surprised, to
say the least. However, the dog looked
determined, so he led him into the
office. Inside, the dog jumped up on
the chair and stared at the manager.
The manager said “I can’t hire you.
The sign says you have to be able to
type.” The dog jumped down, went to
the typewriter and proceeded to type
out a perfect letter. He took out
the page and trotted over to the
manager and gave it to him, then jumped
back on the chair. The manager was
stunned, but then told the dog “The sign
says you have to be good with a
computer.”

The dog jumped down again and went to
the computer. The dog proceeded to
enter and execute a perfect program,
that worked flawlessly the first time.
By this time the manager was totally
dumb-founded!

He looked at the dog and said “I realize
that you are a very intelligent dog and
have some interesting abilities.
However, I still can’t give you the
job.” The dog jumped down and went to a
copy of the sign and put his paw on the
sentences that told about being an Equal
Opportunity Employer. The manager said
“Yes, but the sign also says that you
have to be bilingual”.

The dog looked at the manager calmly and
said “Meow”.

***

And now for a ‘real’ funny bilingual joke.

Years ago, Charles DeGaulle of France visited Canada. He is still remembered for his ill-mannered and inflammatory shout from a Quebec City hotel window, of, “Vive le Quebec libre.” (Long live Free Quebec.)

Before he arrived, applications were accepted for a post as his driver, to chauffeur him wherever he went.   Aside from the usual requirements, strength, intelligence, firearms and martial arts abilities, driving and map skills, the successful applicant had to be bilingual.

The job was given to Angus MacKinnon, of Nova Scotia, who fluently spoke both English….and Scottish/Canadian Gaelic.

***

Flash Fiction #116

pigeonhole

PHOTO PROMPT © Claire Fuller

JUDGEMENT DAY

In a way, it must be comforting to have everything ‘figured out’, and have labels for everyone and everything. If only people would keep their mouth shut about them.  People like his dim-witted, red-neck, Bible-thumping, narrow-minded, KKK-supporting, Trump-voting boss. He spewed opinions about everybody.

Negroes (not his term) were stupid, lazy, jungle-bunnies. Chicanos were job-stealing taco benders.  Jews were Christ-killing con artists.  And those homosexual sinners???  Well, he knew which guys walking down the street were gay, just by the way they moved.

It must feel good to put everyone in a pigeonhole, even if they weren’t the right ones.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story

 

The Dance

Fellow-blogger, AFrankAngle, usually publishes organized, well-researched posts.  Some time ago, he made a brief foray into writing fiction.  Being, among other things, a ballroom dancer, he wrote a short piece about a perhaps-reluctant couple engaging in an Arnold Schwarzenegger, True Lies-type Tango.

Another blogger picked it up, and modified it.  He changed plain text to fancy script, formatted it like blank verse, photo-shopped it onto pictures of pretty shells, and returned to Frank a piece of art worthy of framing.  Click here if you’d like a look.

Impressed with the reactions to his repost, Frank has decided to use it once again.  After the line, “The music ends.” he removed his final two lines, and has put it up for download, with the challenge to anyone interested, to write an alternative ending in 75 words or less.  Below is my version.  Click on his blog name above, to read more, or to try yourself.

afashortstorychallenge

The music starts – its tempo and rhythms define the dance. He approaches her table, and extends an inviting hand. She accepts. They take to the floor. He offers a hand and a frame. Again, she accepts, but looks away while in hold as if to say, “I’ll dance – but I’m not interested.”

They move to the music’s sharp, fiery rhythms that are intertwined with sensuality. Their eyes continue gazing in opposite directions to avoid a visual connection – yet, their bodies touch.

They dance – they move – sometimes slow – sometimes fast – but always sharp and to rhythm.

He rolls her out – they flick in unison. He tugs to rolls her back into his arms. She shrugs him off by returning to hold with her head turned away. Their steps continue.

He steps back – a lunge – a corté. She steps forward and raises her leg against his, and slowly moves it downward as a caress. He notices – she’s got his attention. As he returns her to upright, their eyes connect through a glimpse – yet each looks away.

The pace seeming hastens. The musical beat remains steady. Their moves remain sharp. Their eyes are starting to communicate to the other through glances.

She leans her body into him and her head is no longer facing away. They lock their eyes for the first time, and her eyes and face speak to him when. She places her head on his chest.

The normally sharp fans are now slow and smooth – yet still to the music’s rhythm. As she turns, his right hand slides naturally along her sleek frame. He notices the curvature of her hips. His head is not as high as he looks toward her with hopes of connecting again.

To him, her face displays desire. Her eyes are closed, but only she knows why. They are now in another place. To him, they are in the midst of passion. To her, she is the seductress who has succumbed to his fantasy.

He responds to the music’s fire with 8 fast steps down the floor. He rolls out as before, but on her return, she is close – and her right hand slowly caresses his face. The music ends.

She raises her goddess face to his.  Her limpid brown eyes catch and hold his.  He stares into an eternity of joy.  Slowly, her carmine, rosebud mouth opens, and….

BEEP – BEEP – BEEP – BEEP

Frank??  Frank?!!

Wake up!  You’re dreaming.

Turn that alarm off!  It’s time to get up and go to work.    😳

#480

Never Satisfied

The employees of a small local firm became more and more upset, as the plant aggressively became totally automated.  Robots, conveyor systems, self-controlled machines, it all got installed.  Finally The Day came, and all the workers were called into the cafeteria.

The boss confirmed their worst fears, and the moaning started.  “No, no, don’t worry.  You guys have all stood up for me and the company when we needed it.  I’m not going to forget you.  It’s like a divorce.  I’ll continue to pay you today’s salary, until you get another job.  Some of you are old enough; I’ll pay you till you officially retire.”

Smiles and cheers, Yay Boss!  “The only thing is, I can’t legally pay you for nothing.  The plant’s not Totally automated.  We still get some snail-mail, the automatic oilers need to be topped up, the floors and machines will get dusty, and the windows will need cleaning.  What say we get together for a half a day each week?  Everybody wants Fridays off, and nobody wants to work Mondays.  If you get Friday and Monday off, Tuesdays and Thursdays might be a problem.  Let’s get together on Wednesdays, not too early.  We’ll work from ten till two, and be done till next week.”

And a whiny voice from the back says, “What, every Wednesday??!”

White Lady Special

A classroom of small children, half white, and half black, found out that the Teacher’s birthday was the following day, so they unanimously decided to buy her a gift.  All the white children chipped on a dollar each, to buy their gift, but the black kids could only afford a few meager cents apiece.

On her birthday, she found two presents on her desk.  When she opened the first, she was surprised to find a beautiful pair of leather gloves and a silk scarf.  When she opened the other, she was alarmed to find a beautiful chocolate cake, but bearing the letters F. U. C. K. on top.  Bewildered, she cried out, “Who could be so cruel as to put such a horrible word on this lovely cake?”

The little children answered, “Heck Teacher, that’s not FUCK, that’s      F rom   U s   C  olored   K ids!”

Business Practices

TO:  ALL EMPLOYEES

SUBJECT:  ABSENCES

It has been brought to my attention, that the attendance record of this department is a disgrace to our gracious benefactor, who, at your own request, has given you a job.  Due to your lack of consideration for your job with so fine a company, as shown by such frequent absenteeism, it has become necessary for us to revise some of our policies.  The following changes are in effect as of today;

SICKNESS

NO EXCUSE….we will no longer accept your doctor’s statement as proof, as we believe that, if you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

DEATH

(Other than your own)  This is no excuse.  There is nothing you can do for them, and we are sure someone else with a lesser position can attend to the arrangements.  However, if the funeral can be held in the late afternoon, we will be glad to let you off work one hour early, provided that your share of the work is done far enough ahead to keep the job going in your absence.

LEAVE OF ABSENCE

(For an operation)  We are no longer allowing this practice.  We wish to discourage any thoughts that you may need an operation, as we believe that, as long as you are an employee here, you will need all of whatever you have, and you should not consider having any of it removed.  We hired you as you are, and to have anything removed would certainly make you less then we bargained for.

DEATH

(Your own)  This will be accepted as an excuse, but we would like a two-week notice, as we feel that it is your duty to teach someone else your job.

Also; entirely too much time is being spent in the restroom.  In the future, we will follow the practice of going to the restroom in alphabetical order.  For instance, those whose names begin with “A” will go from 8:00 to 8:15, “B” will go from 8:15 to 8:30, and so on.  If you are unable to go at your assigned time, it will be necessary to wait until the next day, when your time comes.

Flash From The Past

Saint Patrick’s Day has come and gone, and, as a good Scot, I did my part. I didn’t see anyone wearing plaid for Robbie Burns’s day, but was inveighed to “wear something green for St. Paddy’s Day.” Contrary to what a lot of you perverts think, Scotsmen do (usually) wear something under their kilts. They’re wee under-shorts known as breeks (breeches, britches).

I wore green underpants for St. Patrick’s Day. Perhaps appropriately, I think I got some brown stains on them. Ooh, ooh, TMI! Tighty whiteys or boxers, I hear you ask, just to change the subject. A bit familiar, I think, but if you must know, I’ve worn YSL bikini briefs in many colors, for years.

English people, who already think they own the world, don’t bother to establish “a special day.” Scotsmen have Robbie Burns’ day, in honor of a lyric poet, whose deep thoughts and social insights were acceptable, even though they were written in dialect, as Mark Twain’s were.

Irishmen have St. Patrick’s Day, the cultural highlight of which, is drinking green beer. The local hotel bars used to add green food coloring to beer on St. Paddy’s day. An Irishman I used to share lodging with, ignored everything else on that day, and spent it sucking up this dyed delicacy. He got a job an hour’s drive away. The first St. Patrick’s day, I got a phone-call that he was in town, because the bars in his new city didn’t serve green beer. I’ll tell you more about him later.

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, although he was Roman-English, not Irish. His name was not Patrick, or Patricius, or Padraig, and many of the stories about “him” were actually about another Roman-English missionary named Palladius. Other than these minor details, the Catholic Church has the story spot-on.

Well….except for the snakes. Separated from the rest of dry land by a big chunk of ocean, Ireland never had snakes for Patrick to drive out. The “snakes” he drove out were the non-Christian heathens. He drove them either into the embrace of the Holy Church, or their graves. Fire and Sword, the methods he used caused the later Inquisition practitioners to remark, “Whoa dude! Take a chill pill. Too intense, man.”

“Heathens” and “Pagans”, these derogatory epithets, even today, allow the faithful to judge and condemn. But “heathens” merely means those who live upon the heaths, subsistence farmers, or shepherds. “Pagans” comes from the Latin word paganus, peasants, rural civilians, dwellers in small, remote villages. The actions and attitudes of these country bumpkins, who merely wished to be left alone, to live their lives as they wanted, were at odds with the Big-City, corporate, Christian religion. They were converted, or eliminated.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to go off on another anti-Church rant. I was quoted/mentioned in the newspaper again this Saturday. Blogs are not the only things that I read and comment on. There’s a feature in each Saturday paper, titled the same as this post. A columnist, interested in this city’s and area’s history, publishes a photo, usually 50 years old or better, and asks people to identify locations and buildings, now often torn down or greatly modified.

I first emailed him several years ago, when he wrote of a local company which had moved 75 miles north, to a small town I passed through when I drove to visit my parents. I wrote about the pretty little park there, April 5, last year, in my Trips With Mom and Dad II. While near a county line, it is definitely in my home county, but he gave it to our neighbors.

Some of the buildings/locations he has featured over the years have been a reflection of my work history. A couple of years ago he published a picture of the above-ground entranceway to the underground bomb-shelter I cleaned once a week for a year, back in the 80s. He included part of the description, both of the facility, and my work in it, which I sent him.

About six months ago, he featured a picture of the steel warehouse/fabricating shop I worked in from ’67 to ’74, out on the edge of town. Just off the photo were the stockyards and farmers’ market. Urban sprawl now has the area covered with gas stations, golden arches, sub and pizza shops. The smelly old cattle were moved to the north end of our Twin City, where we now attend the farmers’ market.

Some of my information was not included in his piece, but he thanked me for it, because it gave him enough knowledge to ask the right people the right questions for future columns. Last Saturday’s mystery photo, and this week’s article, were about the shoe plant I worked in before I went to the steel plant in 1967.

“*Archon* Smith emailed to say he worked at the Valentine plant for a year in the mid-1960s.” “We knew it colloquially as the Hush Puppy plant, because that was where the comfortable, suede-topped, soft-gummed soled ankle-high shoes were made.” Smith wrote. He later moved to a job at Bauer Skate on Victoria Street, a firm Greb Industries acquired in 1965.

I loved Hush Puppies. We could buy seconds for less than half price, at the warehouse, but fashion, and my job, moved on. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. So much of my life is about the past, because I own such a large chunk of it. Try not to point and laugh. I hope you find it mildly interesting and informative.

Archon’s Exciting Work Life

The inestimable John Erickson invited me to make him slack-jawed with tales of my work history.  The only thing about the story of me and my career that would make anyone go slack-jawed is why half of Southern Ontario hasn’t lapsed into a coma.

With no life-plan, and only a grade twelve education, I worked almost a year at a Royal Bank, before I realized that it and I were not good partners. I put in a summer season as the pro-shop assistant at a country-club golf course, although, as a paper-work diversion, I was on the books as the golf Pro.  I moved from Southampton Ontario, to Kitchener, because that’s where the jobs were, then. With no experience and little training, I went back to an adult education course.

After graduating (again), I worked as a Production Clerk at a shoe factory. The company moved me to a skate plant, where I set blades on boots. When they found that I could read well enough to not put out size 12 hockey blades to be attached to little girls’ figure skates, I became a Production Scheduler. They tried to train me for Quality Control, but a recession was on. I got a job at a steel warehouse/fabricating shop. I started as an Inventory Clerk, filled in for two months as Acting Inventory Manager, moved to Expediter, and later up to Buyer, over 7 years. Leaving there, I became a Purchasing Agent for a couple of years at a large millwright/rigging shop, with some metal fab. and machining. I left that company to be the Purchasing Agent at a large (400 employee) precision machine shop that made automotive, dental, medical and atomic energy parts, for four years.

I got a job as a fancy-named Materials Manager at a small auto-parts stamping shop for two years. I had 8 people working under me. The title just meant I had all the responsibility – with none of the authority. I got shit on from above, and had it rubbed in from below. When the company president found that I had ethics, he pulled the employment rug out from under me.

I tried outside sales, first for a small local courier, then for a safety-supply company, but, with no sales experience and no established territory, I couldn’t support the family. I drifted on and off unemployment for a couple of years. I delivered flyers and catalogs. I worked for a small, and later, a larger building-custodial firm. I spent a couple of years with a Security Guard firm. I patrolled a couple of downtown hotels, and then got moved to a shoe/boot/slipper plant.

I had worked with the leather-cutting department foreman years before. After about a year as security, he talked me into working for him. Starting at $7.01/hr, I worked up to $9.25. He put me on a piece-work job, where the previous operator had made $13.+/hr. Not only did I stay at the nine dollar figure, the company was busy going bankrupt, and I either went back to $7.01 or found a new job.

I took the seven bucks, and his shit, for a couple of months, until the previous press operator told me that her new employer was hiring – at $11.35. If you dig back to about August, you’ll find a post about how I got that job. The economy now booming, I kept that job for 17.35 years, through three corporate owners. The last wanted to expand too fast, and bought a lot of small plants, all over North America. When the boom went bust again, inevitably, they were asset-rich, but cash-flow poor, and jobs got eliminated until the entire plant closed.

I found that now, jobs were obtained by working through temp-agencies. I got a piece-of-cake job at a steel-parts producer. Just as I was about to be taken on full-time, the 2008 recession kicked in. Thinking I was only going to be laid off for three weeks over Christmas/New Years, I had the temp agency get me a fill-in job with a medium-sized transport firm. The parts firm went kaput, and I had to stick with the new job.

They were shipping steel coils by rail-car, to the prairies and B.C. I worked as part of a framing crew, using lumber to brace the coils from moving during transit. In and out of the terminal and the boxcars, we got rained and snowed on. Not properly wired for compressors, lights and heaters, it was stiflingly hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and dark in the rail-cars, on a four-to-midnight shift. Broken lumber for splinters, nails sticking out, nail-guns and circular saws, I’m surprised no-one was seriously injured.

It was a very physically demanding job, just at the time of life when strength, stamina and body control were waning.  I put in just over two years before qualifying for full government pension, got to Hell out, or got out of Hell, and retired.

It might be a bit different for people with a skilled trade, but for guys like me, working at one job, or for one company your entire life, was over years ago.  My father had had at least ten different jobs by the time I hit the market, and three or four more after I left home.  There are still exceptions.  One of the co-workers at the auto-parts plant retired with 48 years seniority.  He’d been there through six owners/name changes.  The joke was, that he had been waiting at the corner for a trolley-bus, and they erected the building around him.

Now you know the sad employment history of The Archon. Do you feel sorry for poor old Archon, or just sorry for yourself for having read this tale of woe?