Sometimes, America reminds me of that dumb bitch who can’t stop looking at herself in the mirror, even thought she’s not that hot–and even when there’s really important shit going on in the other room.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “But, Josh, that dumb bitch is you!”

I know, but have you seen me? I’m gorgeous.

Anyway, I was asked to write this story about media coverage of Haiti and, to be honest, at first I was like “Huh? Why?”

But the more I thought about it the more interesting that idea became.

Plus, it’s hard for me to turn down a writing job.

Or any job, for that matter.

In order to make some extra money I thought I would start working with the Local 50 Stagehands Union. I put my name on the call list a few weeks ago and they got back to me the other night asking if I’d be willing to lay carpet in the Sacramento Convention Center.

“Carpet layer” is my middle name.

I showed up to the loading dock at 7 p.m. with a bunch of hand tools and some work gloves. There were about  15 burly dudes and bulldykes standing around so I knew I was in the right place. The guy handing out paperwork–a black dude with a ponytail and a beanie (a look I’ve always admired)–yelled at me for having a pen that ran out of ink. When I laughed, he looked at me like he was going to beat me to death.

We split up into groups and rolled out the carpet, taped it down, got the bubbles out and then redid the whole thing over again when we fucked up. We did that for five hours until the whole convention center was covered in the ugliest purple carpet I have ever seen. I worked alongside a really enthusiastic kid who kept saying everything was “Saucy.” He reminded me of everyone I have ever met in jail. He was pretty cool, but I’m not sure I could have tolerated more than a day with him. There was also a friendly white power dude and a dude who told me I looked like Ben Stiller.

Laying carpet was horrible work and, to be honest, I felt like my life had taken a million steps backward. I mean, part of the reason I went to college was so I wouldn’t have to do manual labor. And there was also something that made me uneasy that I was there working while someone who didn’t get a call that night was at home hoping they would get a call the next day. I could tell that my co-workers were unimpressed by my handiwork. There were little things, like the way they rolled out the tape like it was attached to their palms (Spiderman-style) and cut the carpet with a flick of the wrist, that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t master.

Sorry, this post is taking strange turns, but I’m watching this guy working at the coffee shop who is huge and he has big curly hair. A customer walked up who is also huge and has curly hair but he’s about 30 years older. He looks exactly like the employee will look in 30 years and they are talking each other. Neither of them has any idea that they are the same person. Weird.

Well, I don’t think I have a point, but if I did have one it might have been that America is a strange place, life is a strange thing and even though we’re all poor and miserable we could all be more poor and more miserable. And we shouldn’t be so distracted all the time because the you in 30 years might be standing right in front of  you, and you might be so distracted that you have no idea.

Josh Fernandez © 2021
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