Butt Rock Friday

May 3, 2008 at 11:00 pm (The Easy Chair)

Because I was draggin’ ass…

Swing shift has been my work time of choice for almost thirty years. I sleep until the crack of noon, bedtime is around 4 AM. I like it, my body rhythms are set, it works. So when I get scheduled to work until midnight, and then have to return by 10 AM, it throws me into turmoil. This was life on Friday.

It wasn’t all bad. I’d be getting overtime, and it was payday, so I’d have to be at the store sooner or later if I wanted to get paid. Since I was at the ‘quiet’ store, it shouldn’t be too bad.

My luck started right off, running into a mailman at the bus stop. He relieved me of one chore by taking a handful of outgoing mail. Yes!

The bus ride was not at all crowded, at first. Then, I hear an “Oh gawd,” and see a throng of middle-schoolers at the approaching bus stop. There goes the nice quiet bus ride…

They piled on with barely-contained energy. A young fellow sat down next to me, bumped my arm, and said, “Excuse me, sir.”

Wh-wha-what? Did I detect manners? I’m still asleep, right?

“Field trip?” I asked.

“Yes, we’re going to Cinco De Mayo. We’ve already wasted an hour on the bus getting there.”

The ride was as quiet as one could hope for, and they got off at my stop.

Grinder was working the till, a rare occurrence anymore. (He’s been promoted to the back office. It’s done wonders for his mental health.) I took over, getting my bearings. The remodeled store and the surrealness of the early hour kept me off-kilter. Looking busy whenever Grinder would poke his nose out, I spent the rest of the time puttering and listening to the radio.

KUFO in the daytime has a lot more variety than the drive-time shows. I heard large portions from a mix-disc a girl had given me years ago, based on a an overnight trip to Vegas. Waxing nostlgic, I thought of Boss Whitney, who I’ve been working with lately at the Mothership.

When I worked days at the Mothership, before Whitney became an office monkey, we would man the tills while listening to the Bozyk show on KUFO every day. We kept it under control most of the time, but occasionally a boy’s gotta rock. My fist-in-the-air moment? The time the store was empty, and I pumped up Rob Zombie’s American Witch to annoying levels. I was able to hear the whole song.

Whitney was not so lucky. Once, during the Starlight Parade, I ran an errand to a different store. When I returned the radio was off. I quizzed, “Whazzup?”

“I was explaining Powerball to a couple of little old ladies when your new favorite song came on. I turned it off, but we’ll probably get a memo over this one…”

“Which song?”

“Buckcherry’s Crazy Bitch.”

“Uh oh…”

Policy dictates that it’s okay to listen to the radio, but no gangsta rap and no offensive lyrics. I keep the radio nearby, and have the acoustics figured out so I can jam without bugging old people. (Or worse, management.) I jam pretty freely with Whitney, but Grinder is a different story. He listens to classical music and NPR, and has little time for my metallic enthusiasms.

So when Bozyk put the word out for requests, I thought of Whitney and picked up the phone. After finishing, I called the Mothership and left a message. “Tell Whitney to listen to Bozyk at noon.”

I’ve done this before, and am usually the first request or last request played. I give a good sound bite.

“Hello, KUFO?”

“Hey, you still taking requests for Butt Rock Friday?”

“Sure! Whatcha got?”

“Well, I was reading in the paper that America’s hottest band, Great White, is touring again-”

“That’s so wrong…” Bozyk laughed.

“-and was hoping you’d play Mista Bone.”

Just before the show began, Grinder walked over and turned the radio waay down. “Can’t offend the daytime customers…”

I turned it right back up, just in time to hear my spiel. I hadn’t heard Mista Bone since the ’90s. I’d have danced, if Grinder hadn’t been discussing gardening with a bluehair.

They played Iron Maiden, Accept’s Balls to the Wall, and another old favorite, Jackyl’s Lumberjack Song, which features a chainsaw solo. It gave me energy, and now that it was past noon, I’d gotten out of the habit of telling people to “Have a good night!”

I took a late lunch, which *miraculously* coincided with the release of the paychecks. I dashed to the bank, stopped for a quick drink, (triple venti mocha) and went back just long enough to count out and clock out.

Instead of heading home, I went the other direction. After half an hour in the park across from the courthouse, I was no longer amped, but I wasn’t ready to go home. I took a bus to Clairissa’s.

I arrived as she was hugging her last client of the day. As they said goodbye, I slumped into the barber chair. Until then I’d never thought of it as comfortable. Clairissa kissed the top of my head and asked, “What’s up? You all right? You look down. I think I have a beer if you want?”

“No thanks, I’m not drinking any more. I wouldn’t mind smoking a bowl, though.”

“I’m done for the day. Bust it out.” She locked the doors and closed the curtains. I sat in her chair and decompressed. I explained to her the difference between BJ Thomas and Neil Diamond. (Kids, I swear…) She told me of her wild week, leaving me wishing I was part of her team. It involved drinking, copious amounts of public sex and streaking the Portland City Grill. They even humped the leg of an Elvis impersonator. She promised that I could come along and photograph a future ‘fun run’.

Hope I can keep up.

The last bus was due soon, so Clairissa followed me to the bus stop. We made small talk that soon evolved into a comparison of life philosophies, and a sharing of mutual support for our newfound single status. As the bus came around the corner, she grabbed me by the back of the head and kissed me on the lips. People honked. Someone yelled. She left me dumbfounded, walking away as I got on the bus. I plunked down in my favorite seat, cracked the window, and felt like I hadn’t in a long time. Like I was worthy.

Looking in the mirror when I got home, I’d forgotten that while she was telling me of her sexploits she’d trimmed my neck with the straight razor and groomed my beard. I looked sharp! I never let anyone trim my beard, not since Phineas left me looking like Lemmy holding his breath. She not only honored its integrity, she made it look nicer than I ever could. Next time I will ask her to do it again.

I was totally and thoroughly trashed. I’d had two hours sleep in thirty-six, was starving-hungry, and had been dealing with the public all day. Yet it was the perfect start to a one-day weekend. I’d earned my keep, and been rewarded with the support of a friend who knows where I’m coming from these days. I must do something nice for her…

And now, it’s back to the grindstone. I have a long work week ahead. Listen to Thunderdome with Cort and Fatboy at KUFO, 10 PM on Monday night.

One of those smartass commenters may just be me…

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