So, after I quit my job at Casey’s I went to work for the local newspaper. The sole reason for the newspaper to exist, as far as I could tell, was so that little old ladies could read columns devoted to little old ladies in the next town over having lunch with each other.
That, and to provide some sandwiching material for the car ads.
I was hired because I could work a computer. My job? Designing said car ads.
America, I am no artist. I have no eye for composition or fonts or placement.
This made me perfect for the job, because a real graphic designer would have given a hearty “fuck you” to the place long before I did, because the car dealer in town had an even worse sense of graphic design than I did.
Still, I learned a lot about cars, or at least their various profiles, and a lot about the strange ways of bosses.
My boss was a lovely stoner named Ray. Ray didn’t think we knew he was a stoner because, well, duh, Ray was a stoner.
The newspaper offices were set up like this: There was a front area that lined the street. It was regular size. Above it was the apartment where the man who ran the printing presses lived, got drunk, and beat his girlfriend. She would say she fell in the bathtub, but we all knew better, those of us–woman–who worked until late at night, because we could hear it.
He was weird, the Pressman. I guess you’d say he was gross. He had a long mullet and disgusting teeth, and he was always wearing his coveralls with nothing under them, and they were so tight you wondered if his barrel chest wasn’t going to bust the zipper.
He had died once, a heart attack, and they cut him open and brought him back. I asked him what it was like being dead. He said, “Nothing.” I asked if he saw a light and a tunnel or anything and he said, “No, there was nothing.” That scares the shit out of me.
Here’s the worst part, America. He was sexy. Fuck if I know why. He was as dangerous as a grizzly bear, maybe that was part of it. But holy shit, does it still scare me about myself that I sometimes prayed to be left alone with him in the back room.
The back room was enormous, open three stories to the ceiling and lined with letters from the old press. It contained the light tables and the dark room and the bathrooms, and a walled off area with no ceiling that was Ray’s office.
Ray, the “clever” stoner, would come in at about one every afternoon and sit in the office for about a half an hour. Then he’d come out, go over to the drug store, buy up two or three bags of Cheetos, and come back.
That was the first clue, for the astute.
The second clue, for the stupid, was that he’d then go into his office and shut the door, and a few minutes later, large billowing plumes of smoke would come rising out from where he had no ceiling.