From the bells of St Mary
To the Count of Monte Cristo
Nothing can stop
Nothing can stop
Nothing can stop
The sins of Memphisto

Since I work for a fairly large corporation, there are a lot of so-called things that I’m guessing are “politically correct” in our little cube farm. We get inundated with all sorts of e-mails from our Human Resources department informing us of all of the latest and greatest flavors of the day when it comes to hiring and employee retention practices. We get lists of classes to choose from that range from the sublime to the mundane to the ridiculous and we get directions and how to improve our knowledge and further our career. All of this is done so that we in turn will make the company stronger and more viable in the ever competitive market place. It seems that the hot ticket this year is something called a “development plan”.

Sally used to play with her hula hoops
Now she tells her problems to therapy groups
Grampa's on the front lawn staring at a rake
Wondering if his marriage was a terrible mistake
I'm sitting on the front steps drinking orange crush
Wondering if it's possible if I could still blush
Uh huh Oh yeah

It seems that in each upcoming year, we, the employee that is, must complete a little form that encapsulates what we intend to work on during the year, what resources we need to complete our little venture, what plan of action we intend to take and what “related competency” (whatever that means?) is required in order for us to do all of this.

A boy on a bike with corduroy slacks
Sleeps in the river by the railroad tracks
He waits for the whistle on the train to scream
So he can close his eyes and begin to dream
Uh huh Oh yeah

Now, don’t me wrong, I’m not the salmon swimming upstream or anything like that. For the most part, I enjoy my job. The hours are good, the people are nice, the pay is fair and there’s no heavy lifting. I’m all for people trying to improve themselves in any way they can.

Here’s the catch though. In my minds eye, this thing called a development plan is geared towards those either starting out in their careers or for those looking to climb another rung on the corporate ladder. If you’ve been around long enough, you know the type I’m talking about. Shit, maybe you’re even one of them yourselves.

The hands on his watch spin slowly around
With his mind on a bus that goes all over town
Looking at the babies and the factories
And listening to the music of Mister Squeeze
As if by magic or remote control
He finds a piece of a puzzle
That he missed in his soul
Uh huh Oh yeah

But for me, well, I just want to be content. I don’t want to work late into the evening or on weekends. Over the years, I’ve done my fair share of that sort of thing and maybe its time for the younger pups to take over. Let’s face it, I don’t expect to be invited to lunch with the CEO anytime soon.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be turning even closer to fifty than I was to forty. I’ve been through two heart attacks and two divorces. Both of my parents died when I was relatively young. Besides the wee one, I’ve got three other kids who are all grown and left the nest but don’t hold me in very high esteem. I lost a brother in my teens and my sister and I haven’t talked in over five years. There are nephews and nieces scattered around the country but none of us keep in touch. Most of the time, I’m just trying to keep my head above water and the bill collectors at bay long enough to try and do the right thing by Anna. Any prospects for future long term relationships are currently dim at best.

Adam and Eve and Lucy and Ricky
Bit the big apple and got a little sticky
Esmeralda and the Hunchback of Notre Dame
They humped each other like they had no shame
They paused as they posed for a Polaroid photo
She whispered in his ear "Exactly Odo Quasimoto"

I think I’ve developed enough, thank you.


(Lyrics lifted from Great Days: The John Prine Anthology) 1993 – copyright –John Prine

CST Approved

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