pheasantly numb.
© 1997 Jamie Zawinski <>

One of my coworkers, we'll call him Cleetus, grew up in a small town in Kansas. The world is very different in Kansas. Cleetus had a lot of interesting stories to tell about growing up there, especially with regard to the sorts of summer jobs that were available for a bored young man. Times have changed for Cleetus; keep in mind while reading these tawdry tales that these days, he walks around the office wearing thousand dollar Italian suits.

(I may be misremembering some of the details here, but that's unimportant. We all create our own reality, after all.)

But, amazingly enough, this wasn't the least favorite of all of Cleetus's jobs. That honor went to a particular fast-food chain, where his job was to man the boiling grease pit. I don't remember which chain he said it was, or what kind of food it was that they were making there, but his job consisted mainly (or at least, most memorably) of wearing a huge asbestos glove on one hand, and with that hand, reaching into a trough of boiling grease. Repeatedly.

Before he went home in the evening, he would wash his hands again and again, trying to get the smell out of his skin. Then he would go home, and usually awaken his roommate, who would respond with a plea that he go and wash his hands again -- ``I can smell it from across the room!''

And so Cleetus would wash, and wash, and scrub, and scrub, like some modern-day minimum-wage Lady Macbeth: ``Out, damned spot! out, I say!''

But I can't help but wonder what would have happened had the tensile strength of rotting skin not been quite up to trampoline duty. I can only suspect that Cleetus's friend would have been washing his feet, repeatedly, for the rest of his natural life.

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