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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Letter #8: Working Man Blues

June 10, 2014


Mr. David Sedaris
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY  10017


Dear Mr. Sedaris:

They're putting in brand new sidewalks around the corner from my house.  Wait until you see them!  As sidewalks go, these babies have it all - smooth surfaces, nice curbs and slopes for bikes and strollers.  You can tell - the folks in charge of this assignment really thought things through and spared no expense.

Have you ever been to Ballantyne?  It's pretty classy where I live.  When we first moved here, I was intimidated.  I didn't know what to expect.  Everyone looks so healthy, and things are clean and well-kept.  I thought for a minute that I might have to pursue some quickie liposuction just to blend in.  I'd been so busy packing and unpacking all of our stuff.  And nervously eating Cheetos while trying to memorize the unfamiliar TV channels.  I didn't really have enough time to jog or give a shit about my diet before all these friendly neighbors started coming out of the woodwork.

The sidewalk project is taking a very long time.  Construction crews started tearing up the streets back in January.  That's when they repaved the roads and installed deluxe traffic lights.  Upgrades begin at the far end of the high school ballfield and continue beyond a broad intersection that splits into three directions, two of which extend to shopping centers where you can meet friends for lunch and spend money.  The third way leads to an impressive subdivision.  I've only driven through there a few times, but people seem nice.  They wave, and I wave back.  Sometimes, I wave first and then, they do it.  All the waving was hard to get used to in the beginning.  But after three years, it feels quite natural.

Back to the walkway installation.  There's one municipal worker, in particular.  He appears to be about 20 years old.  He wears glasses and sports the modern adaptation of Abraham Lincoln's beard.  Based on the way he carries himself, the facial hair is a deliberate look.  I can't imagine it's a style that deserves to make a comeback.

Honest Abe has been issued the full-sized safety paddle which says SLOW on one side, STOP on the other.  Occasionally, they hand him a rake.  But mostly, he's responsible for that sign.  It's unclear if he understands why he's holding either of these pieces of equipment.  Perhaps the boss keeps texting him instructions, and he is texting back that he's received the details but refuses to read them.  He's on the phone quite a bit.

You've really gotta hand it to this kid.  He may not be passionate about the job, but he sure is chatty with his colleagues, smiling and laughing the day away with other members of the yellow vest gang. I'll be the first one to support the notion that a fun outlook is good for morale. And ordinarily, I'd be delighted to see this young man enjoy himself so thoroughly at the work place.  Except that he's holding a road signal suggesting I behave a certain way while steering a heavy piece of machinery through the streets at varying speeds.  I just think he should care more.

Recently, the Great Emancipator was yucking it up again on duty.  At this point, I am hesitant to suggest this was an isolated incident.  I already know too much about the situation.  I read his sign carefully, which indicated that I should proceed as follows:  SLOW.  I crept along in my big vehicle until I was roughly two inches from striking him.  I felt bad about interrupting his conversation, so I waited while he finished telling his joke.  The heat of my engine caught his attention, jarring him from his revelry.

The Rail-Splitter addressed me with perhaps the hairiest eyeball I've encountered to date.  He looked annoyed that I'd actually followed his directions, as specified by the warning on his stick.

"Can't you read?" he shouted, pointing to the paddle.

"It says SLOW!" I replied, even though he couldn't hear me from inside the car.

He looked up and spun the pole around.  "It says STOP."

"You've gotta be kidding me!" I could see him trying to not  read my lips.

As I drove past, I yelled out the window, "You're a dumbbell!" and kept going.

Since that day whenever I approach the Community House Road exchange, I look for the stupid version of our sixteenth President.  I no longer simply have an opinion with regard to his lack of integrity and piss poor commitment to the community and our country.  Make no mistake - I am judging him.  I didn't say I was proud of myself.

He was on the phone this morning, probably with his mom or an elderly aunt.  I bet the three of them live together in a cramped apartment over by the Family Dollar.  It's gotta be rough, sleeping on a recliner that smells like cat winky.  I don't feel sorry for him anymore that he doesn't have enough money to move out on his own.  It's unlikely he's ever gonna land a girlfriend, not with that attitude.

I can't wait for this project to be finished.  I don't like feeling this way.

Yours truly,


Mary Killian

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