Fuss and Feathers – Excerpt from Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell

YOU WEREN’T BORN choking on no silver spoon, you know how it goes when you go looking for a job and you need one: You wait in the first indifferent room, ink in the forms, apply in another room with linoleum that’s waxy and squeaks and overhead lights that don’t miss a thing; then there’s the desk and the person behind it who thinks he’s an admiral, or it’s a she and she thinks she’s now in line for the throne to somewhere, and next you’re kissing ass and aw-shucksing toward the desk, telling how bad all your life you’ve been wanting to be night janitor in a chemical plant, or hog wrangler in a slaughterhouse, or pizza delivery boy, how you’ve laid awake in bed gettin’ goose bumps just from imagining how high and wide your life might someday be lived if ever you could average five dollars and forty cents an hour.

But there’re these questions, as always: Could you explain what you did from February of that one year until July of the next? And also that other year, from May to September?

Oh, did I not write that down? you say, then start spinning phantom jobs out your mouth, and they’re the best you ever did have, too: roller-coaster operator at Six Flags; Delta guide and driver for that two-part National Geographicarticle; day bartender at Silky O’Sullivan’s.

Your palms break sweat and you sit there, needy, while your work ethic and character are available for comment from strangers you wouldn’t share a joint with at a blues festival.

And you don’t get the job.

Those old failings showed through.

Not even lies helped.

Before all that long, you start telling those near to you that you went on interviews that turned out sorry when factually you never even made the phone call.


From the excellent Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell

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