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Two Words: Jeff Ellis
Thursday, February 12, 2004
  So, earlier this morning -- at about 2:30 a.m. -- I was taking my lunch hour at work. I'm a night manager for a Wal-Mart neighborhood market and the main reason I stick with the job is that our store comes with two breakrooms -- one for nonsmokers and one for smokers. Say what you will about ignorant bosses, overwork, obnoxious customers, and the constant risk of getting killed in a midnight robbery, Wal-Mart is the only store I've ever worked for that actually goes to the trouble to give it's employees a room to smoke themselves to death in. I used to refer to the Smoking Room as the Suicide Lounge until I realized most of my coworkers were missing the humor and assuming I was planning on killing myself during my next break.

Anyway, I tend to spend my entire lunch hour (though usually it seems to be more of a lunch fifteen minutes) in that smoking room, chainsmoking Camel Filters, trying to write (though this seems to make everyone I work with paranoid -- "You're not writing stuff about me, are you?"), and usually wondering why, oh why, I couldn't have had a vision of this future back when I was nineteen years old and blowing off my freshman year at college. For the most part, my coworkers know better than to bug me whenever I'm in the Suicide Lounge. And in case they forget, I always make sure to keep the room as smokey and hazy and second-hand cancer-producing as humanly possible.

However, this morning , as I smoked and read the Dallas Morning News, I came across an item that slapped me so hard across the face that I was actually compelled to leave my sanctuary and spend ten minutes or so with my fellow night workers.

It was a tiny little story but the headline said it all:

"TRUCK CARRYING COCAINE HEADING FOR WAL-MART"

Well, how couldn't that catch my attention? Turned out that a Wal-Mart truck was stopped speeding down interstate 40 in Arkansas. The police decided to open up the trailer and do a quick little search. Well, it turns out the trailer was filled with the usual thousand or so cases of merchandise AND the not-so-usual 600-pounds of cocaine hidden in the very back.

As I stepped out of the Suicide Lounge and I read this item to my coworkers (who laughed about it the whole night and proceeded to tell every single member of the day crew as they arrived three hours later), I couldn't help but notice the sign posted on the breakroom wall.

"WAL-MART," it read,"AMERICA'S MOST ADMIRED COMPANY."

And now we know why.

Anyway, long story short, the implications of this kept all of us amused for the rest of the night and, as I mentioned, we made sure every single member of the day crew knew all the details. So popular was this story that it eventually made it all the way to Charlie, the store manager and my boss who didn't find it quite as amusing as the rest of us.

As I was heading towards the breakroom to clock out and go home this morning, Charlie paged me to his office. As I closed his door behind me, I couldn't help but notice that 1) Charlie's glare was a little harsher than usual (which, if you've seen Charlie's everyday glare, you wouldn't think possible) and 2) he was holding the exact same copy of the Morning News I'd been reading earlier in his hands.

"Jeffrey," he started and this is always a bad sign, when he calls me Jeffrey (actually, when he speaks to me period is a bad sign, calling me Jeffrey is an apocalyptic emergency), "I do not want the night crew reading the newspaper during their lunch anymore."

"Uh," I said, "sure thing, Charlie. I'll keep them isolated from world events from now on--"

"And," he interrupted me before I could be a smartass, "I don't want you reading to them anymore, either."

"Right," I nodded, "no more reading at all. We will run an illiterate shift."

"That is," and I swear this was actually said, "what we are paying you for, Jeffrey."

So, apparently, at my store Big Brother is watching you. And unfortunately, that big brother is me. 
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Reva Renee Renz -- Renz would have won my vote in 2003's California recall election, if not for the fact that I'm not a resident of California. Anyway, Renz was one of the more likeable candidates in that free-for-all, one of the few who took it seriously without giving into meglomania. Her blog gives the details of her run and her life after. Renz is the owner of Deva's Bar in Tustin, California and I have to admit that the only reason I currently desire to visit California is to have a beer at that bar. Renz stands as proof that Republicans are a lot more fun than most people care to admit.

Yankee From Mississippi -- Shannon Black's blog, featuring writing that often puts me to shame. Plus, isn't that just an amazingly cool title for a blog or anything else for that matter?

Crime

The Charley Project -- A huge site, detailings hundreds of cold cases dealing with missing persons. This site is actually far superior and better written than the similar and better known Doe Network.

Crime News 2000 -- Despite the 2000, this is a daily updated listing of all the latest developments in all the morbid and disturbing stories that tend to capture the national psyche nowadays.

Doe Network -- One of those web sites that justifies the existence of the internet in the first place, the Doe Network is a huge database of missing persons and unifidentified remains from around the world.

Is this girl Tara Leigh Calico? -- This web site details the disappearance of a 19 year-old girl in New Mexico back in the late '80s. The details of Tara Calico's disappearance have haunted me for years now and served as the genesis for my current interest about missing person cases in general.

Politics

Charles Jay -- Personal Choice Party Candidate For President In 2004 -- I wrote in Jay's name for President in 2004. I think about 228 other people -- mostly in Utah -- agreed with me.

D.C.'s Political Report -- With Politics1 on indefinite hiatus, this is now the best place on the web to find continually updated listings of who is running for what and where.

Homepage of the Libertarian Party -- I am a member of the Libertarian Party, even if the party itself can't ever quite seem to get it's act together.

National Review -- The magazine for both true conservatives and Libertarians who think Ayn Rand was a hack

Politics 1 -- The site is officially on hiatus but there's still the occasional update. The archival information on the various candidates in the 2000 and 2004 Presidential races always makes for interesting reading.

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Amazon.com -- I've posted quite a few reviews of books, film, and music on this site and I've gotten a good deal of very gratifying and very positive feedback from them. (I've also managed to piss off just about everyone who cried when they saw Titanic for the 10th times but that's another story...) Those reviews can be found by searching the site for Jeffrey Ellis from Richardson, Texas.

The Homepage of Gregory Alan Norton -- Homepage of one of my favorite liberals, fellow writer Greg Norton who I published in the premier issue of Jack the Daw way back in 1995. His site quotes my review of his excellent first novel, There Ain't No Justice, Just Us and includes information on how to order the book.

Xlibris -- Homepage for Xlibris, the publishers of It's Impossible To Start A Fire If You Have No Desire To Burn

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