“Stupid Jobs are Good to Relax With”
by Hal Niedzviecki
pringsteen kicked off his world tour in Toronto’s Massey Hall a while back. Along with record company execs and those who could afford the exorbitant prices scalpers wanted for tickets, I was in attendance. As Bruce rambled on about the plight of the itinerant Mexican workers, I lolled in the back, my job, as always, to make myself as unapproachable as possible - no easy feat, trapped as I was in a paisley vest and bow-tie combo. Nonetheless, the concert was of such soporific proportions and the crowd so dulled into pseudo-reverence, I was able to achieve the ultimate in ushering - a drooping catatonia as close as you can get to being asleep while on your feet at a rock concert. But this ushering nirvana wouldn’t last long. For an usher, danger takes many forms including wheel-chair bound patrons who need help going to the inaccessible bathroom, vomiting teens, and the usher’s worst nemesis, the disruptive patron. And yes, to my semi-conscious horror, there she was: well dressed, blonde, drunk and doped up, swaying in her seat and...clapping. Clapping. In the middle of Springsteen’s solo dirge about Pancho or Pedro or Luisa she was clapping. Sweat beaded on my forehead. The worst was happening. She was in my section. Her clapping echoed through the hall, renowned for its acoustics. The Boss glared from the stage, his finger-picking folkiness no match for the drunken rhythm of this fan. Then, miracle of miracles, the song ended. The woman slumped back into her seat. Bruce muttered something about how he didn’t need a rhythm section. Placated by the adoring silence of the well-to-do, he launched into an even quieter song about an ever more desperate migrant worker.
I lurked in the shadows, relaxed the grip I had on my flashlight (the usher’s only weapon). Springsteen crooned. His guitar twanged. It was so quiet you could hear the rats squirreling around the ushers’ subterranean change rooms. The woman roused herself from her slumber. She leaned forward in her seat, as if suddenly appreciating the import of her hero’s message. I wiped the sweat off my brow, relieved. But slowly, almost imperceptibly, she brought her arms up above her head. I stared, disbelieving. Her hands waving around in the air until...boom! Another song ruined, New York record execs and L.A. journalists distracted from their calculations of Bruce’s net worth, the faint cry of someone calling, “Usher! Do something!” *** For several years now, I have relied on stupid jobs to pay my way through the world. This isn’t because I am a stupid person. On the contrary, stupid jobs are a way to avoid the brain numbing idiocy of full-time employment.They are the next best thing to having no job at all. They will keep you sane, and smart. I’m lazy sometimes. I don’t always feel like working. On the stupid job, you’re allowed to be lazy. All you have to do is show up. Hey, that’s as much of an imposition on my life as I’m ready to accept. Does the Boss go to work everyday? I don’t think so. He’s The Boss. Understanding the stupid job is the key to wading your way through the muck of the working week, and dealing with such portentous concepts as The Youth Unemployment Crisis and The Transformation of the Work Place. So sit back and let me explain. Or, as I used to say behind the scowl of my
Reproduced with permission of Hal Niedzviecki.
Pre p a r in g fo r th e E n g lish Exit Exam
shining grin: Hi, how are you this evening? Please follow me and I will show you to your seat. *** “Out of Work: Is There Hope for Canada’s Youth?” blurts the October issue of Canadian Living. My answer? There is more hope than ever. I’m not talking about ineffectual governments and their well-intentioned ‘partners’ the beneficent corporations all banding together to ‘create’ jobs. After all, what kind of jobs do you think these corporations...