The acronym for Thank God It's Friday is so universally recognized (I only had to explain it once to a swami who was actually from Long Beach, and I swear she was pretending ignorance) that it more than implies an equally universal hatred or at least distaste for one's job. In that sense, I am the wrong guy for this, since I like mine enormously. It was not always this way, though. No. My job as a writer did, ironically, bring me employment for one day at the worst job I've ever held, and I have held some hateful ones. That was as a telemarketer in Hillcrest for an outfit I called DisInfoTel. Those guys are still around, I believe, opening and closing locations in a matter of weeks in order to dodge what must be constant petty lawsuits for fraud. I signed a confidentiality agreement to get the job (as part of a multi-installment series about seeking out and performing various types of menial work), and when the article appeared I received several phone calls with job offers, completely phony, from my short-term employers just to establish that I was some sort of low-budget corporate spy selling telephonic bullshit techniques to other hustlers. Their hope, I believe, was to get me into a position to settle the confidentiality violation out of court for an unambitious but painful enough cash amount. This may be elaborate paranoia, but I could think of no other reason for these calls. It wasn't as if I was any good at the job.
I have worked in factories and foundries, roofed homes with tar in Midwestern summers, cleaned boat bottoms, tended bar in literally more places than I can count, from the Hotel Del to a joint on Manhattan's Lower East Side that I quit the first day when a customer took a leak while standing at the bar.
As I reread that last sentence, that long last sentence, I sound to myself like a roughneck roustabout, a ramblin' kinda guy with a cleft chin and a strong back (oh, I forgot to mention, I picked asparagus in the Imperial Valley with migrant workers -- another bit of journalism -- for a matter of hours before collapsing) or at least a wish to appear that way. My first job was delivering newspapers, then bundling them with wire at the printer's office. I was a dishwasher, a lawn mower, a house painter, and a babysitter, and, oh, how I want to end this sentence with: "and a gunslinger and a mojo man, all before I was 16." But I spent years working in bookstores (more than a dozen stores on two coasts, maybe 18) and have been paid for performing music, again mostly in bars but also in military bases, behind chicken wire in Casper, Wyoming, and onstage at a lot of colleges, including Princeton University, with Jesse Colin Young and Gordon Lightfoot. To keep name-dropping, I recorded at Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland Studios in Greenwich Village, and, most recently, a song of my own composition: "I'm a Queen in a King-Sized Bed," in the living room of San Diego's strange celebrity Jose Sinatra.
I never worked in an office until recent years, and journalism has also led me to working with a janitorial crew at a Vons grocery store one night and at the drive-thru window at Taco Bell in La Jolla. All told, the most detestable job was telemarketing, and the hardest work I was ever paid for was writing novels, which George Orwell once described as "deliberately undergoing a prolonged illness."
In a way, this résumé (the first I've ever written, I think) is an attempt to assuage that nagging fraud syndrome, the sense that I have no right to pose as a regular fellow with a regular job, that I am just another ivory-tower intellectual and aesthete. Now that I have reassured myself that I'm not really trying to get over and in fact have some familiarity with the workaday realities of other sweaty slobs, I believe I can carry on with the demanding, even daunting great work before me. It will all, of course, be in the memoirs (so far, called Lust for Leisure). But meanwhile, on a weekly basis, my record speaks for itself; when it comes to that overall state of consciousness we might think of as "Friday," I'm your man. To put it another way, when it comes to not doing anything in particular or avoiding what we might think of in the larger sense as "Monday," I really know what I'm talking about.
Colin Wilson, a British writer/philosopher I find very interesting (sometimes because of rather than in spite of his lunatic-fringe-flake aspects), writes from time to time about the paradoxical nature of freedom. In one sense he's talking about that phenomenon of however we might long for vacation, time off, the lunch hour, whatever, often when it comes around we'll be at a loss, even bored. I don't think I've been bored since childhood. Early on I learned there are so many interesting alternatives (including getting in trouble) that it really hasn't come up. In adulthood I've spent so much of my time vacillating between what Woody Allen calls the two basic conditions of man -- the horrible and the miserable -- that boredom becomes appealing in its sheer elusiveness.
So whether it is meditation on seemingly pointless stuff, getting out of work (even work you like), pursuing the truly inane, or exploring the parameters, nay, pushing the envelope of inactivity, the bird's eye, low-down skinny on nonproductivity, an insider's tips on the ins and outs of, say, Miller Time and just plain slacking, as you kids call it, send in your subscription now and I'll show you a good time is what I'll do.