Old Dogs

STATE ASSISTANCE


"so Patrick
what kind
of skills
do you have?"

she started
with an optimistic
cheer in her voice
thinking apparently
that I looked
halfway intelligent
and had no obvious physical defects
so that finding
a job for me
would probably be
no great
task

"well...
I'm good
with numbers
and have a fairly
good feel
for electronic
equipment"

the furrows
in her brow
told me quickly
that these were not
the definitive answers
for which
she had been looking

I knew
that it sounded
fairly lame
an aptitude in mathematics
no great calling card
and my equipment reference
bordered on the obscene
delivered in my furtive
apathetic style

"I see
by your application
that you have
an extensive
background in electronics...
wouldn't you like
to pursue
a career
in that field?"

I knew
that I had made
a disastrous mistake
by telling the truth
about my education
and employment histories
since she had
apparently
classified me
already

I should have
just written
that I was
a high school dropout
and had been employed
ever since
in service stations
fast food joints
and garbage dumps
since it would have
greatly increased
my job chances
and improved
my relative status
in her diminishing
estimation

"no"

again lame
but to the point
since I didn't know
what else
to answer

if I had
to suffer
looking over
one more
schematic drawing
solder one more
loose connection
or replace one more
ailing power supply
my head would explode
but apart
from these skills
I had little to offer
in the category
of usable
experience

"well then....
what exactly is it
that you had in mind?"

exasperation
was beginning
to show
on her once
patient face

I felt
her frustration
as she continued to search
through a collection
of paperwork
to the point
that she turned
to a computer
and began to furiously
beat out keystrokes
to find
I guess
an answer
somewhere
in the data
for me

"I'm not
really sure...
maybe an apprentice position
with a tinsmith
or possibly
a cobbler"

her fingers froze
at the battered keyboard
and her head
slumped noticeably
as she slowly turned
in my direction
her visage now
one of resignation
her voice drained
of its earlier
vitality

"why don't
you let me
enter your information
into the system
then maybe
we'll be able
to come up with
a suitable match
a little later
in the week"

ahhh...
off the hook
for another day
I arose smiling
gathering my records
in preparation
for departure
since my work there
was most certainly
done

"thank you very much...
I'll call back then
in a few days"

she nodded
and turned again
to her waiting keyboard
leaving me to exit
still unemployed
but somehow
less
unfulfilled

another
fine performance
finished