Thursday, March 29, 2012

Call Me Fickle

I pulled up to a traffic light this morning and while waiting to be given the green arrow to turn left, I noticed that I was behind a car with "Vietnam Vet" license plates.

My mind started thinking about how so many of the veterans of the Vietnam "Conflict" came home to a nation divided in its attitudes about the war and those who fought in it. It made me want to put my car in park, rush up to the driver, and just thank him for serving his country.

At just that moment, we were given the green-for-go, so my imaginary expression of gratitude was cut short and I prepared to switch my foot from the brake to the accelerator. The problem with that, though, was that the honorable veteran's car was not moving. I don't know if his thoughts were distracted or he was reading a text or the effects of Agent Orange had finally caught up with him, but he was not heeding the traffic signal's clear insistence that it was time to turn left and get on with the morning commute.

Because the guy risked his life for my sake, I gave him an extra second or two.

Okay...that was enough...I lightly tapped my horn: a friendly little "toot-toot"...all the while hoping he wouldn't have a Mekong Delta flashback and go all Apocalypse Now on my sorry, little Kia.

The arrow turned yellow, the vet lurched through at the last possible moment, and I was stuck sitting through another cycle of light changes.

It's amazing how quickly a feeling of warmth and thankfulness can turn to "I'm glad they have special Vietnam Vet license plates available. I like being warned about things like that."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Oz Police Line-Up

Every week at Big Brother, Inc., I instigate a collaborative effort on our communal whiteboard. Some weeks, it's a story written by adding three words at a time (which generally results in absolute proof that the engineers at BBI desperately need my services as a technical writer - yay! Job security!). Most often, it's a picture/cartoon of some sort that I begin with a few shapes or random marks...and that gets added to through the week until it takes on an identity of its own.

Last week's work was a winner:

If the image isn't clear enough for you to see what's going on here, let me summarize.

What began as a circle and an oval, ended up being an homage/satire of The Wizard of Oz featuring the famous foursome in a police line-up, each charged with a variety of offenses:

Dorothy - Illegal immigration, theft, manslaughter, sedition, and invasion of private property
Lion - Draft-dodger, tax evasion, bail-jumper
Scarecrow - Arsonist, voter fraud
Tinman - Cold-hearted
Wizard - Impostery, investment fraud
And Toto, too - Littering

In the bottom left, we see the back of a police officer's head as he says, "Number One, step forward and say, 'I'm not a witch at all'."

With co-workers like this, who needs the funny papers?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Army Intelligence

In order to be gainfully employed by Big Brother, Inc. (my current place of gainful employment), it is necessary to be cleared by the Department of Defense and have issued unto oneself a bit of plastic known as a "CAC card." (Pronounced 'kack.')

Right off the bat, let me share that it hurts my feelings that most people call this bit of plastic a CAC card. The reason for my pain? The acronym, CAC, stands for "Common Access Card." It goes against my sense of righteousness and general commitment toward verbal laziness to call something what it is...twice. That's along the same lines as going to the basement to check the "hot water heater."


Verbal frustrations notwithstanding, I recently had to make a trip to my friendly, neighborhood Army base in order to renew said card-card. (Updated update, now the truth can be told: It was actually an Air Force base, but the oxymoronic joke hidden in the above title might not be recognized at all if I had said "Air Force Intelligence.")


After having my renewal application dutifully verified and a new picture taken for the card-card, I needed to Visit The Facilities before driving back to Big Brother, Inc. The room designated for answering Nature's call was easy enough to find, as it had the following placard prominently displayed beside the door:

Nothing surprising there. The word "Men" and a masculine-looking silhouette and even a graphic image meant to communicate that there is space for handicapable persons to enjoy the benefits of the room.

What got my attention, and made me break out laughing, was the placard posted outside a nearby door: was a military base and they probably would have felt silly putting the common, skirt-wearing silhouette outside the rest room designated for female personnel...fine. So was there really a need to give the male personnel a picture to help them recognize which door to go through? Like...the women can handle just reading but the men need an illustration?

Military intelligence, indeed.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Observed Absurdities™ 4 - Sexist Want Ads

The date was Monday, August 19, 1963. Barry Goldwater looked like he was going to be the GOP nominee for a 1964 run at the presidency against JFK. Don Drysdale had pitched a three-hitter for the L.A. Dodgers.

And The Des Moines Register printed a want ads section that was so sexist, it has shocked even me...someone who is about as politically correct as ... uh ... someone who isn't politically correct at all.

Thanks go out to co-worker and faithful reader, Queen CanDo, for finding this journalistic treasure while cleaning out some junque at her house and having the knowledge and forethought to pass it on into my What-The-Farnsworth-Am-I-Going-To-Write-About hands.

The most surprising thing, looking through the lens of 21st Century chronocentrism, is that the ads were divided into "Men Wanted" and "Women Wanted" sections...and we're NOT talking personal ads, my friends.

Coming as no surprise at all, however, are the differences between the jobs being offered to the different genders.

If you were a qualified male in 1963, you could apply for a job as: Accountant, Adjuster, Air Line Pilot (yes, that's three words), Auto and Truck Parts Man, Baker, Barber, Bellman, Bookkeeper, Bull Dozer Operator (yes, that's three words), Bus Boy, Claim Representative, Cab Driver, Casualty Underwriter, Chef, Clam Shell Operator, Concrete Block Plant Manager, Engineer, Farmhand, Finance Company Assistant Manager, Grill Cook, Hotel Night Clerk, Machinist, Mail Clerk, Management Trainee, Meat Department Manager, Pharmacist, Production Supervisor, Purchasing Agent, Sports Editor-Reporter, Tandem Truck Driver, Tool and Die Setter, TV Service Man, Welder...and this interesting item, "2 COLLEGE students to live in Funeral Home. 5 hours alternate evenings."

For the female of the species, the sky was the limit, as long as you set your sites on work as: Ad Check Clerk, Babysitter, Cashier, Cocktail Waitress, Cook, Dictaphone Operator, General Office, GIRLS who like to dance (Apply Marine Land) [Des Moines had a Marine Land?!!?], Housekeeper, Key Punch Operator, Model, Personnel Counselor, Pizza Helper, Room Clerk, Salad Girl, Saleslady, Secretary, Sewing Machine Operator, Stenographer, Telephone Contact Work for Dinner Club, Typist, Waitress, or a "WOMAN to work in Smitty's Donut Shop."

You HAVE come a long way, baby.

Of course, if it were me, I'd dress up as a girl to work in the donut shop, then sleep at the funeral home every other night.