Monday, August 02, 2004

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back to Canada . . .

They're playing the blues today over the speakers at Coffee Landing, brown sugar dissonance whirling round and round the lazy ceiling fan with ghosts of steam from the coffee roaster. Better Monday than Wednesday music, if you ask me, though no one has, and if the afternoon strives for the consistency of most uneventfully crummy days, no one will.

Actually, I shouldn't whine so. I bellied up to the bar this morning intending to down a cuppa and read Jung for twenty minutes; instead, I found myself discussing _The Seven Pillars of Wisdom_ and mid-eastern politics for an hour and a half with Jim, an off-duty Canadian border customs inspector. He told me that not two weeks ago, Saddam Hussein drove casually up to his window and handed him a Wisconsin driver's license. The mustache, the eyebrows, the jowls--everything checked out. Jim almost told him, "B-but you're supposed to be in Baghdad under lock and key!", but instead dazedly called over his supervisor, who grumbled his way out of the office ("Hussein? Geez--how could you be such an idiot?) and over to the car, where he stood blinking for several seconds at what did indeed appear to be the terror of Iraq himself. One by one, every one of the customs officers filed over to gawk at the man and his ID, until finally waving him on through to Fort Francis. "They say everyone has a twin," Jim said, leaning low over his latte, "and I suppose this poor guy's life has been hell what with him lookin' like he does, but I tell ya', if it turns out that somebody sprung Saddam out of prison, well, Wisconsin or northeast Ontario wouldn't be bad places to start looking for him."

We checked our watches, then, and shook hands, but before I waddled off to do something about the four cups of coffee I'd absent-mindedly consumed, he told me that between my syntax, diction, and reflective squinting, I reminded him somewhat of Hugh Grant. A first for me, and certainly for Hugh Grant.

Naw, I'm grumpy because even as I type, I'm supposed to be out and about selling advertising. Working for a tiny radio market is a many-splendored thing. Hosting "Six to Ten With Ben" is the least of my duties, and then there are middling tasks like making sure that Shortwave, the tailless radio station cat, gets fed, but the the greatest of them, the big icky, is trying to part area business owners from their dollars. Most often, that part of my job seems a little bit like Heaven, for there is no parting there.

5 Comments:

Blogger DaffodilPrincess said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 4, 2004 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger DaffodilPrincess said...

That is, I had 15 glorious minutes of a nap.

August 4, 2004 at 2:41 PM  
Blogger Myles said...

no parting, eh? welcome to my world. parting people from their book money, for some, is a joy: they practically throw it at me, they're so excited to give me money. some people, who never buy books: "What? You mean there's SALES TAX on this?"

August 5, 2004 at 6:19 AM  
Blogger tracy said...

just keep fighting the good fight - you do good work and given time maybe the area business owners will be less stubborn against the idea of good advertising. talk to you later and take it easy.

August 5, 2004 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger julie said...

well, there are worse things, ben utter, than having a twin. hmm, my faith in canadian border patrol officials is about as strong as my faith in airport security officers. protecting homeland security. imagine...you're doing the same...protecting homeland security. or at least a simple way of life...a world where radios bring news, comfort, companionship. well done, then, boy.

August 5, 2004 at 10:08 PM  

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