When I was in high school, I had a summer job with the County’s Department of Buildings and Grounds. I worked with an amazingly hysterical group of guys (who did not know they were hysterical in any way). I have to write about someday them , but for this quick post, in light of Halloween week, I will only mention Henry.
Henry was the master janitor. All the other janitors employed by the county took orders from him. He was a short Latino gentleman with long, black hair that completely covered his ears. He was good-natured, and well thought of by everyone he worked with. He had such an easy and gentle way about him, I liked him immediately.
He was of the kind of boss who wouldn’t ask his men to do anything that he wouldn’t do…except clean the county morgue. That job he always delegated to someone else. Under no circumstances would he ever set foot in the place.
One day I asked him if it was true that he wouldn’t go into the morgue, and why. He looked at me and, without hesitation, and in complete seriousness, gave me an answer I will always remember. He said, “Ernie, let me tell you something. If a guy comes at you…” He put up his hands in a defensive manner. “You can punch him…” He demonstrated a couple of punches. “You can scratch him…” He curved his digits, and sliced at the air. “You can kick him…” He shot a foot out to illustrate his point. “But…if a dead guy comes at you, there’s nothing you can do! HE’S DEAD!”
As everyone knew he had this fear, I think Henry’s biggest concern was that someone would inevitably play a practical joke on him. And the thought of seeing a sheet-covered “corpse” rising from a gurney was too much for him to take.
the third floor of Victoria’s
Empress Hotel boasts
the Bob Hope Suite
with Halloween approaching
I hoped the halls would echo
with soft sounds of
laughter and applause
and very far away from
somewhere there’d come
the faint strains of
“Thanks For The Memories”
amidst all the silence
only one joke reverberated
through my mind’s ear
I heard it decades ago
when I saw him perform
“An Asian man walked into an
optometrist’s office for first time
and during the evaluation he was asked
“Do you have a cataract?”
the man replied
“No, I have a Rincoln Continental”
all these many years later
I wonder if the ghosts of
old comedians concern themselves
with political correctness
His famous, older cousin got all the attention.
“Oooh,” his family and friends would say, “look how high Jonathan Livingston Seagull can fly!”
Or they would say, “Goodness me, Look how fast Jonathan Livingston Seagull can fly!”
Or “Have you read the book about Jonathan Livingston Seagull? Mine is autographed.”
Steven Slacker Seagull had a copy of the book too. He used it to line his cage back at home.
Steven Slacker Seagull left the pursuit-of-perfection bullshit to his illustrious cousin.
Steven Slacker Seagull liked to panhandle off the various window ledges of the Empress Hotel. Humans would typically make a fuss, call him cute, and toss him food. If the window was open far enough, he’d go right into the room, and, amidst women screaming and men shaking impotent fists, help himself to whatever looked edible.
Steven Slacker Seagull preferred to work the side of the hotel that only had the view of the Nootka Courtyard Shops and puny adjacent parking lot. The humans on that side were view-deprived and took the sight of him as a treat. Most other sides of the Empress offered up views of the harbor and stately Parliament building. A seagull could easily be ignored with all that as a backdrop.
Steven Slacker Seagull knew that the stupid humans he was currently working weren’t going to give him anything. He could tell. “Probably Californians,” he muttered bitterly to himself.