I just returned from a company picnic. Bland hamburgers and Coors on tap. I sat on a folding chair and didn't talk to anyone, didn't stroll over to people I see everyday and say hello to their plump wives and well-dressed kids who were helping themselves to squirtguns bought by the General Manager's secretary for the event. Every car in the lot was either a demo Expedition or F150. Three Harleys lined in a row. Cover band playing Brown Eyed Girl, Play That Funky Music White Boy, and Me and Bobby McGee. Mechanics wearing their wedding bands for the first time since the Christmas party (they tend to cause people to lose fingers in this business, in more ways than one).

I work in the Body Shop, the ultimate lowest rung of the dealership hierarchy, which may be why I've been working there for two years; I relish working with underdogs, men who get dirty and do more than change out parts and kiss the service manager's ass all day. The men I work with are the genuine article, real for all their ignorance of modern life. You give a body man a computer, he'll look up porn sites. You don't give them a book, you give them a magazine with models in them. And that's just fine with me. They don't understand why a girl with an English degree and no kids yet at the prime age of 24 would do what I do, and that's fine too.

But upper management are so beyond me that I've long since given up on them. They actually try on occasion to figure me out, since I am articulate and jaded like they are, because I can clean up so good for a company function that they barely recognize me. But I don't give them much of a chance because my philosophy of life prevents me from seeing these people as having any recognizable soul. I see them tarry about their cars and condos and connections like these are the things that will give them the satisfaction they seem to continually crave. I see them in monogrammed shirts with cufflinks taking credit applications from one impoverished young couple after another, trying to sell a world view that they feel every American should want and does, according to our regional success.

I work in the area people come to when they perpetually wreck their over-priced bundles of joy, so I get them with their pants down, when a caring voice and a willing ear is just what they need and is found in the least likely place. What I do seldom involves cheating people or talking down to them, so I see it as a job that won't cause me to crush the guilt I may initially have if I was a salesman.

The upper management comprises a large portion of people, either those who worked to get there or those who wish they were there already. They are the people I make fun of and think myself better than, people with no soul but a great credit portfolio. People with kids too early and paunches and nagging wives and ex-wives. I wonder if, when they hit fifty and look around them, will feel that they have really lived a full life. I just don't see how it's possible.

In the words of Henry Rollins : "If we were in the jungle, they'd be in the pot and I'd be stirring." Rock on, aging rock icon. Rock on.

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