“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” written by Sting, recorded by The Police, recorded in demo form 4 years previously by Strontium 90, an earlier manifestation of same.

“Beth” by Kiss, recorded by the band Chelsea. which featured Peter Criss who co-wrote the song.

“We Got The Beat” by The Go-Gos, written by Charlotte Caffey for the original version of that band, recorded for a single, but, like all the previous songs, re-recorded and became a hit.

“Brandy” by Looking Glass, originally released by a band called Boffalongo, whose drummer, Sherman Kelly, wrote and sang the original in 1969. His BROTHER, um…er….it’s all too fucking complicated…so here’s a web page dedicated to it.

Did you ever stop to think…I mean really think deeply…about how silly marriage is? Not just how expensive, but how inconvenient? How fruitless? Totally unnecessary. Are all women indoctrinated from the time they can understand speech? I really don’t get it. I should not have watched that stupid movie on HBO the other day.

Every incarnation of “Nikita” becomes more and more one-dimensional. The original movie was amazing. Then there was the American version, now the TV show. What’s next? The ice cream sandwich? AMIRITE?!?!?!?

So where was I…

I was unemployed now, caught between the freedom of unemployment insurance and Protestant guilt. The first job that I tried was that of a Collection Agent at a company called Great Lakes. It was literally a block from my apartment. No longer a 30-minute bus ride. And I was good! Or at least I was in training, wherein we were all tested for our ruthlessness aptitude. The better the score, the better the account group. I was second-best as I recall. The managers were about as “Boiler Room” as you can imagine, and there was no forgiveness for either new trainees or the people at the other end of the phone. At Ingram I was called out for having low phone-time, even though my quota was always met. In the collection game, they take care of that for you. You’re practically strapped to a seat, and the phone literally dials itself, all day long. You never knew who you were talking to or why, but it was safe to say you weren’t going to get a hold of many people. So you kept talking, cajoling, trying to glean the truth out of these innocent co-conspirators. It’s called “dunning” when someone like me was trying to contact someone about their debt. It would start rather benignly and escalate into some nuanced, legally unimpeachable language from our “lawyer” which would hopefully scare the bejeesus out of these people who owed Fingerhut $40.02 or something.

When you tried to find someone who was evading you, it was called “skip tracing”. It must be much easier now in the age of the internet, but back then we had nothing like that. But since we had nothing like that, neither did they, and they might not have had a full grasp of their, you know, rights. This was a short-lived gig for me for a few reasons. There was a severe cognitive dissonance at play. I had been poor most of my life and had empathy for these people and their mistakes. There was a smoking room that was always humming with loud interplay, stories about this asshole or that, and how the best people on the floor always got ’em. It took a certain kind of person to do this 40 hours a week. I was on the floor, on my own, for two days, and had burned out like I hadn’t before or since. These people, all pasty-faced, all smoking like chimneys, all speaking the language on the clock and off. There were a few pretty girls there, but their total focus unnerved a chunky Lothario like me. I said “uncle” pretty quickly.

Also, I was a fool to take a commission job so early in the unemployment arc. I had just gotten through with that noise. Why put the kibosh on such a good vacation? I decided that two days was enough, and I would report the income to my case worker and ride the storm out. The storm in this case was a never-ending stream of rotisserie chicken and ice cream, along with not really having to, say, shower. So I decided that the third day would be my last.  As fortune would have it, I finally, for the first time, actually got to speak with the person who actually owed the money. This was like a straight flush in their world. SO I asked him when he planned on paying his debt,  somewhere around $500. He said he didn’t think any time soon—he was on his way to jail that morning.

I heard myself say the words, but I didn’t think it was me. “Well, you owe us the money. Can you sell some drugs or blow a guy or something? My boss is riding me and we don’t want to have to send a letter to you from our lawyers while you’re…in…prison…” and he and I laughed. I walked home and called my new boss. I told him I needed him to fire me because of the unemployment thing and this and that and he was very accommodating. He didn’t make me quit. Which, as you know, would have put the…kibosh…on…the thing…


6 thoughts on “Lost

  1. Morrighan says:

    Marriage is completely overrated IMO, and as Forrest Gump would say, “and that’s all I have to say about that.” The collection business is such a joy isn’t it?. I worked briefly years ago (part-time in addition to a full time job) collecting delinquent college loan debts. The general public absolutely loves to be awakened at 8am on a Saturday morning asking why they haven’t been repaying their student loan. *Promised to pay in the next two weeks* – log it in the system. Next auto-dialed call.

  2. gilbert neal says:

    I thought Forest Gump was a real revelatory experience when I saw it. But as the years go by I realize now that it was just a treatise on good old fashioned right-wing livin’. And that I was so in stupid love with the girl i went with that we could have been watching “The Day The Clown Cried” and I would be waxing gleefully for days after.

  3. Steve says:

    Not sure if you’ve ever read any Robert A. Heinlein, but one of his ongoing themes is marriage “Contracts” with a set term length and renewal options…. it even allowed for same-sex and polygamous options. A bit like the old-fashioned clan house except this time you PICK your family! If we had that in our country I think we might all just relax a little bit and enjoy raising our own kids again!

  4. gilbert neal says:

    Too sane. Sorry.

    See, you mention the word “relax” and that’s a good word for it. Marriage of the conventional sort creates nothing but a reason to plan something big, a reason to have tepid sex for the rest of your life, and an unnatural legal obligation which, if violated or rescinded on one party’s behalf, can literally ruin people’s lives. I have yet to hear of or witness a divorce where someone or both people are not deeply scarred.

  5. Mike says:

    I like the idea of marriage, done it three times to prove it. I love the personal stories, some which remind me of those times. I’m actually working on a 3 part life history, the first is almost complete. do you remember when we would cruise around the city and the one night we ended up on Genesee Street and came across about 100 bikers?

  6. gilbert neal says:

    It’s hard to believe you’ve been married thrice. I don’t remember that, but I do remember Red Dog. “It’s a set up!!”

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