All I know is that I’ve had several jobs in my life during which, if I could have chosen between showing up for work at 8 a.m. or having my hand slammed in a car door, I’d have had to flip a coin.
But as the word “dream” implies, hope of the perfect job springs eternal.
What brought the subject to mind was hearing on the news this week that the reason for a sudden jump in gasoline prices was the oil refining industries’ “shutting down a number of plants during the winter months for routine maintenance issues.”
Not to be confused, of course, with taking Christmas vacations.
I imagined what it must be like, to have the prestigious desk job of public information officer for the International Coalition of Petroleum-Based Crap (ICPBC).
OK, I made that name up. But still.
One day, gas prices spike upward, and I start getting calls from major news organizations around the world wanting to know why.
”Well,” I say to them, “prices are up because we traditionally shut down a number of plants during the winter months for routine maintenance issues.”
”But is that the ONLY cause?” a quarrelsome reporter follows up. I recognize this guy’s voice, and he always likes to make trouble.
”Certainly, you also have to also factor in,” I say to him, “last week’s rally in crude oil prices. Which was by no means unexpected.”
”Ah-HAH!” the muck-raking reporter says. “I thought there was more to it.” And he hangs up on me with great authority.
The ICPBC staffer in the cubicle next to me laughs out loud. “Don’t tell me they bought that stuff again!” he chides me.
”Hook, line and sinker,” I tell him. “What alternative do they have?”
”But, Jeez...” Rob Jr. (the college-dropout son of one of the Council’s vice-presidents, as am I) goes on. “How many of those stupid canned answers do we have for the media, anyway? Eight?”
”Seven,” I tell him. “They’ve retired the ‘persistent rumors of unrest in the Middle East’ one.”
Rob Jr. looks distraught. “No way,” he says, as if I’ve just debunked Santa Claus. “Just temporarily,” I reassure him. “It’ll be back eventually.”
He gets a sentimental look. “I miss the days when Hank was working here,” he says. “You never met him. I was sitting right here at this desk, the day Hank invented Reason Number Nine.”
”He told a CNN reporter, ‘Prices are up because one of the shahs has a yacht payment due. You got a problem with that?”
”No way,” I say.
”Way,” says Rob Jr. “It was during our company Christmas party, but still.”
”I’m guessing there were repercussions?” I say to him.
”Duh,” Rob Jr. says. “He was called to the main office in Dubai for a disciplinary hearing.”
”Never came out. Nobody ever heard from him again.”
”That’s not surprising,” I say. My phone rings again.
”I get so tired of this job,” I say to Rob Jr. “Tell me again why I stay here?”
”Free gas! Free gas! Free gas!” he chants happily. Our department motto.
The phone rings twice more before I answer it.
”Hello,” I tell the caller. “This is ICPBC. How may I help you?”
Dale Short is a native of Walker County. His newest book, “I Left My Heart in Shanghi, Alabama: 25th Anniversary Edition” is available on his website carrolldaleshort.com. His weekly radio program “Music from Home” airs each Sunday at 6 pm on Oldies 101.5 and is archived afterward on his website.