I Could Be Plucking Chickens

I’m midway through my 3rd week of unemployment and the reality is beginning to set in. Meaning I’m starting to actually feel jobless, as opposed to being on vacation or having a (really) long weekend. For one thing, the State of Washington keeps reminding me of this fact. Every time I check the mailbox there’s something new from them. Information about my claim. Seminars on finding work. I found out today I have to attend a mandatory 2-hour “Orientation to Re-employment Services” meeting next Tuesday at an ungodly early hour. Great – that’ll be fun, hanging out with a bunch of losers who can’t hold down a job! Err…wait a second…

Plus, the novelty of being home all the time is wearing off, and I’m beginning to miss human interaction. Sure, I see the kids before and after school on the weeks that I have them, but during the day it’s just me and Sydney The Cat. For the record, she loves that I’m home all the time now, because she gets a lot more attention than she ever did before – and also gets to sleep atop the down comforter on my bed when I’m working away at the computer – but once I’m too poor to afford the Friskies canned food that she is so fond of, I’m sure her enthusiasm will wane. I do see people if I happen to stop by the grocery store, but in the middle of the day they are either old folks, harried moms with crying babies and toddlers in tow, or other unemployed guys like me. No offense, but I don’t yearn for any of their company. So, when a former coworker stopped by the other evening to deliver a bunch of resumes he had kindly had printed up for me, is it any wonder I burst through the door the moment he pulled up and dashed outside to meet him? It was like a scene from one of those cheesy romantic comedies, in which soft music full of violins is playing while two long-lost lovers run in slow motion through a field of wildflowers toward each other. Only, of course, not at all like that. Because it’s November, and there are no flowers in bloom right now. And also, right, the fact that we are both in relationships with women. Details, details. But it was good to see somebody from my previous life again.

“Nothing has changed at work,” he said, and while I didn’t expect anything major to have happened in the half a month I have been gone, a small part of me was disappointed to hear that the company hadn’t completely imploded once I left. Not that I wish them trouble, but how rewarding would it be to hear that I was like the Ace holding together that particular house of cards, and the moment I was removed, the whole thing came tumbling down? Instead, I’m like the upside-down three in the bottom corner, I guess. I want life there to go on without me, maybe just not exactly smoothly, know what I mean? Let there be a minor hiccup or two along the way, just enough to give The Powers That Be a momentary pause and have them ponder, for a few seconds, the wisdom of letting ol’ Mark walk out the door without a fight.

Wow, have I got an ego today.

Lord, she had enough money to buy a Mercedes Benz. Or 50. (Image courtesy of markmuloski.com)

That’s okay. Maybe it’ll fire me up and give me the strength to fight harder for a Bigger, Better Gig. It’s kind of like how the kid who never amounted to much in high school wants to come back to his tenth reunion a huge success. Like Janis Joplin, who returned to Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur, Texas for her 10th reunion a huge star. She showed up dressed from head to toe in her signature hippie-like attire – beads, bangles, sunglasses, a garish pink boa – “look at me now, suckers!”. Thumbing her nose at the establishment that had mocked her. I’ll hold off on the boa, but sure, I’d like to walk back through the doors of my former employer one day a successful writer.

Or, maybe I’ll be doing something else that I can’t even fathom right now. Odd jobs apparently run in the family. My parents, who have taken quite an interest in my blog, have been suggesting topics for me to write about. My mom e-mailed me a few days ago with an idea – writing about the unusual jobs my relatives have held over the years. I thought, hmm, yeah, sure, but how outlandish could those jobs be? Let’s just say I was surprised. The people from whom I am descended, it turns out, found some quite interesting ways to bring home the bacon! Who knew? Like, for instance…

  • My grandfather (mom’s side) was an arm hole presser in a coat factory. And he took a job washing milk bottles when he quit school at age 13.
  • My grandmother (mom’s side) assembled glove boxes for General Motors automobiles.
  • My grandfather (dad’s side) worked on the assembly line at Stokely-Van Camp taking hot bottles off the washing line before they were filled with ketchup.
  • My grandmother (dad’s side) worked on the life-jacket line in a parachute factory.
  • My great-grandfather (mom’s side) was a coal miner who developed Black Lung Disease.
  • My great-grandfather (dad’s side) assembled dolls in the Horseman Doll factory.
  • My dad’s cousin was a chicken plucker.

Interesting stuff, I have to admit! Makes me feel kind of pathetic, having been stuck inside a cubicle most of my working career. Sure, I worked some retail jobs in high school and college, but the most exciting thing my grandkids might hear is, Your grandfather sold overpriced luggage to people who had just stuffed their faces full of Hot Dog On A Stick in the mall. Not very bad-ass, is it? Not that I want to make dolls or rip the feathers off of chickens, but at least my relatives had stories to tell! By contrast, the stories I tell (my writing) are made-up and happen to other people.

But hey, at least I won’t die from some horrible lung disease, right?


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

9 thoughts on “I Could Be Plucking Chickens

  1. Yes, I felt like not having a day gig for a bit would free up all this time, but it seems that somehow it didn’t work out that way… I’m pretty good at looking for translation gigs and improving my online presence in that field, but I seem to stretch out how long I spend on that… 🙂 I did get a gig at a cool café opening here to make some money and do something I’ve never done (hey, it’s not a cubicle), but now the opening is delayed, so some frustration there.

    Very cool about your family’s job history! It speaks to the great industrial/manufacturing past of this country that is just not as strong anymore…


  2. I gotta tell you, I absolutely love your writing style. I am over here cracking up. I definitely know what you mean about wanting people to miss you or really notice you are gone. I think EVERYONE wants to feel that important. So, the real question is, would you rather be a chicken plucker than an unemployed blogger? 🙂


  3. This reminds me of the Flintstones episode when Fred read the want ads “Wanted person with long thin fingers to put cotton in bottle” then on the next ad, “Wanted person with long thin fingers to take cotton out of bottle”
    I hear there is great lawsuit money in Black Lung Disease…just saying 😉


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