on the gears to make them go.


i went to my first (and so far, only) state interview this morning. first, i showed up to the wrong building. over the phone, i thought the interviewer, alex, had said to go to a building called edd. i wasn't sure, though, so i went to a building that had a sign that read gci. i think. i went in through the main entrance and a young blonde woman asked me if she could help me. "is the address here 9815?" i asked. "no," she said, "9700." "oh," i said, defeated. "where are you trying to go?" she asked. "i think he said edd," i answered. she looked really confused. "i should probably keep driving down that way," i said, and pointed past her island. she smiled, and i left. just another random encounter to add to the list.

i finally found the correct building. it had a huge sign that read: "9815 state of california." i parked my car and walked to the main entrance. there were a bunch of older folks, dressed casually in t-shirts and jeans, standing around and smoking. so this is what state workers look like, i told myself. a middle-eastern looking security guard let me in. "can i help you?" he asked. "i'm here for the interview," i said. "ahh, yes," he said. "you must sign in." i signed in, but didn't put my telephone number. the four other signatures didn't include their phone numbers, so why should i? "you have to put down your phone number," he said.

while waiting, this black woman came through the door in a hurry. just before she made it outside, the security guard spoke. "why are you running?" he asked. "what?" she said. "why you are running away?" he asked. "running away?" she asked, smiling. "the question is: why not run away?" so, this is what state workers sound like, i told myself.

my interviewer, alex, finally showed up. he was a clean cut russian guy, probably my age or younger. we shook hands, and he had me sit down at a cubicle and read over the duty statement. the duty statement was a lot of technical sounding words intended to obscure the true, mundane job description: for $11.97/hr, i would be receiving, opening, sorting, and sending out mail. and sometimes, i might be working with a copy machine. this was great, though. i took a look around. nobody was there. it was empty, quiet. just what i've always wanted: to be left alone.

in front of me was an in memoriam picture of a black woman, who had died at the age of 53. next to it were some quotations from the bible. one quotation was highlighted. i think it was this passage: this was he of whom i spake, he that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. why would anyone put this up in an office?

as it turned out, the department wasn't edd, or cgi, or igc, as i had originally thought, but actually dmg. document management group. they manage documents.

alex and a black girl interviewed me. since i didn't know exactly what the hell i was interviewing for, i stumbled on most answers. "what is production to you?" they asked. i made up something about getting the job done quickly and efficiently, while, at the same time, learning how things could be improved for next time. that, my friends, is production.

what are my weaknesses? i'm too jaded for your scripted, inhumane questions. i can't talk out of my ass, and i can't exaggerate my unimportant, low-paying previous employment. or how about this one: i'm completely reluctant to allow you to dictate what happens to me, or where i will be for a full eight hours per day.

what is a monastic life? it must not include sleeping in, playing the guitar, and watching the full monty on cable. barbara ehrenreich wrote in bait and switch that the longer you are unemployed, the more difficult it will be for you to gain employment. the official term for these bouts of unemployment is called a "gap." so far, my gap has been seventh months. sometimes i'm worried; other times, i think, what does it even matter?

in a half-asleep state one morning, i heard a female voice, and she said: "time is nothing but a ticking clock, and we are running circles on the gears to make them go."

i have no idea what it means, or if it even makes sense. but when i'm half-asleep, anything is sensible, anything is possible.

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