September 5, 1972

 

Hank dragged me along today to apply for a job at his place, telling me the card company has lost all its help at the end of summer when they went back to college.

I never expected the company to hire me on the spot, and to tell you the truth the boss -- Craig Carlson -- didnít want to.

But since I didnít have a ride home -- Hank drove me there -- Carlson didnít want me sitting around all day either.

This was one of those queer moments in time when you find out whether fate is with you or against you, and you get swept up in its tide.

Carlson clearly didnít like having his back up against the wall, forced to hire me when he wanted to show what a boss he is by making me wait a day or two.

But I think heís desperate since the last of his experienced help is due to start college in a day or two and if he wants someone other than the inexperienced Hank to teach me, Carlson had to take me on.

I guess Carlson caught on about Hank -- even after only three days -- that Hank is not someone he can depend upon for anything serious, while I am.

So Carlson told me to stay.

I not good company these days. I frustrated and angry, and donít know exactly why. I feel something pulling inside of me like a strained muscle, or raw nerve.

Iím not comfortable in any situation.

Louiseís leaving at the start of the summer only partly explains the pain.

I feel as if something has failed in my life and Iím only 21 years old.

When I met Hank during the Summer of Love, he made a lot of promises about the future, how the world would change, how everything would be peace and brotherhood, and we got Nixon running for reelection, and rumors of some dark scandal in the news.

In some ways the job may help settle me since we are being thrust into the middle of the companyís business season.

We deal in cards and wrap, and no season is so set for such things as Christmas -- although we have to work our butts off right away to get the stuff out in time for the stores to have on their shelves by the Halloween.

If Carlson wasnít already wearing a wig, heíd be pulling his hair out with the worry.

I got the impression during the interview that he doesnít see much hope of us doing well with our rushed training and all.

Carlsonís is a man about my size and height, though he wears glasses and a toupee.

Weíre not to suppose to let on about the false hair, Terry one of two secretaries tells us, since Carlson is vain. But the thing is so ill fitting it slides down his forehead whenever he moves too quickly.

He wears a suit and tie, although I noticed that by the end of the day, he abandoned the jacket, leaving it on the back of his office chair while he prowls the warehouse.

He acts like a football coach, and spent my whole first day cheering us on, telling me that we work for a solid company based in Dallas, and that if we work hard we might have a future. I came with Hank to this job because the company pays ten cents more an hour and does not require me to manufacture furniture like my last job did.

Still I have my doubts working with Hank again after the fiasco at our old job, where he screwed things up so bad that the company fired him.

If he returns to those antics, I wonít last two weeks here without being charged with murdering him.

Hank, however, looks serious. He needs this job as much as I do.

He seems desperate in a way I have never seen before, as if he feels as lost as I feel now that all of our dreams have evaporated, the war is not over, peace and love did not prevail, and we are forced to work for a living just as our parents do.

Even his brief bout of capitalism did not save him since dealing drugs to high school kids does not seem stable enough to build a life on -- though I do him an injustice. Hank only supplemented a poor income with sale of drugs; he worked at a messenger, and before that loading trucks at the laundry. But until now, he did not truly believe he would have to labor for the rest of his life in order to survive.

The fact that we are working together again should please me, and in some vague way it does, stirring up memories of more innocent times when we worked together as ushers in the theater.

But I feel trapped by this new job, and know that I have started down a new path in my life, one that will not allow me to retrace my steps back to what I once was and the dreams I once wished would come true.

 

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