The letters, applications, birth certificates, Degree of Indian Blood cards, Tribal Roll lists, etc., pile up every day at work. I've got to log and scan them all! I learned a week or so ago that I was the only person doing that job; maybe I was hearing wrong. But Friday someone mentioned that two temps had been hired to help with the mail-ins -- and that they stopped showing up almost immediately. I guess I'm the only one stupid -- er, man enough to handle the job.
My latest position reminds me of my very first job as dishwasher at the Bixby Cafe in Bixby, Oklahoma. This was washing by hand -- none of those fancy dishwashin' contraptions around here. Only occasionally did I get help from a part-time fellow who was more janitor and line cook.
I needed help, and my boss Louise Gordon kept hiring help -- that vanished quickly. I left my day shift one Saturday, pausing long enough on my way out to say hello to the new evening-shift guys -- two big and burly Good Ol' Boys. I fell exhausted into bed about 10:00 PM . . . and about 10:15 my father dragged me out of the sack, because the cafe had called. Both new dishwashers had ducked out the back door about 9:30 and never came back. So I was scraping baked-on crud from the pots and pans until about 2:00 AM.
[These guys had the gall to come back for their paychecks for their brief time at the restaurant. Louise asked them what happened. They said they'd never seen anything like that pile of dishes and pans and silverware, and it frightened them off.]
Another assistant was Jim Ramsey, a fellow Bixby High student who didn't know his own strength, and he was the most easy-going guy I ever met. I hung out with him because basically, if you told him to do something, he'd do it. "He won't be intimidated by the pile of detritus," I told myself.
He had the day shift while I had the evening, this time. I arrived at work in time to see him yank off his damp, dirty apron, yell "THIS IS THE WORST #$@% JOB I EVER #$%! HAD!", throw the crumpled apron into Ms. Gordon's face, then storm out. So I was alone again.
One Mark Allen Winkle, my younger brother, told me he wanted some of the "easy money" I was making, so he went to the Cafe as well. I actually had a day off. He shambled in that afternoon. His legs and hips seemed to work, but his upper body sort of deflated like a balloon, and his hands hung down around his ankles. "AAAAAUGH! I CAN'T STAND IT! AAAAUGH! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!", he said, or something to that effect, and, needless to say, he did not return.
Well, there were other fun incidents, but after nine months at the Bixby Cafe even I ran screaming into the night. Still, I toughed out while everyone else fled. Was that being steadfast and true, or being an idiot, though?