Friday Free-for-All #72: Horror job, movie cry, two questions, humanity on trial

Here’s the next in an ongoing series in which I answer random questions generated by a website. Here are this week’s questions. Feel free to give your own answers or ask your own questions in the comments.

What horror story do you have from a job you’ve had?

There’s one particular job I had that was a complete horror story from start to finish. It was a temp gig via an agency for an attorney, and my start date happened to be the Monday after the week of martial law during the L.A. Riots ended.

When they offered the job, I definitely needed work — I’d been unemployed since the October before — and they told me that it was at a law office Brentwood, so I said okay.

It turned out to be at a law office in Inglewood, and if you know L.A., you know that there’s a huge difference and, particularly at that time, it really could have been dangerous for me to show my pale white ass in that area.

In fact, I found out after I started that the attorney I worked for was on his way to court downtown when his car was attacked in an intersection a block away from the office, and he was lucky to have managed to drive his way out of it.

In retrospect, knowing him, I have no doubts that he would have had no qualms about running people down to save his own ass.

Anyway, the location turned out to not really be a problem, and there was a period of time when my car was in the shop that I spent several weeks making the arduous bus trek from Inglewood to West Hollywood, which took ages.

Side note: Why do so many city names within Southern California have “wood” in them?

No, the real nightmare was the attorney himself. He only handled bankruptcies and evictions, but he represented the banks and the landlords, so that tells you what kind of a person he was.

I was his accountant, so my main job was to track his hours and compile his bills for him to pay.

He padded the fuck out of his hours, and it was obvious. Several of his big clients were government agencies, like the RTC and Fannie Mae, and he honestly defrauded the hell out of them. That, or days actually had 72 hours in them, and weeks had 15 days.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of every month, I’ve give him the stack of bills that were due, and he sure as hell had the money in the bank to pay them. There were the normal things like utilities, rent, payroll, office supplies, and so on, and the specifically lawyer things, like the subscription to his law library — people came out to physically add updates to the books every month as laws and legal precedents changed.

He’d go through the stack and bitch and moan, always sign off on payroll (because he pretty much had to), then blow off the bigger bills, sign a couple of checks, then ask me to give him a check for a $200,000 draw — meaning a check payable to him, and he did this more than once a month.

And keep in mind that his bread and butter was being the enforcer for banks and landlords who weren’t getting money from people who owed it to them.

In short: Gigantic hypocrite.

And who got to deal with all of the calls from the bill collectors from the people he blew off? That would be me and his very beleaguered paralegal.

The finale to the gig was one of the more bizarre weeks of my life. I’d flown to Dallas, presumably for the weekend, because I was in a long distance relationship at the time. Just before I left, I got a phone call from a major regional theater to let me know they were going to produce my play in their next season, and then the airline I’d flown out on went bankrupt before my scheduled return flight on Sunday.

Now, I’d been given my “fuck you” card with that call from the theater because it was going to be a paid gig — and pay a lot more than the attorney did. So I called him up on Monday, explained what happened, and told him that I wasn’t going to be back before next Sunday because that was the earliest that the bankrupt airline could do a make-good flight.

He went ballistic, demanding that I fly back immediately, but I explained to him, “Sorry. They want 900 bucks for that, and you don’t pay me enough that I can afford it,” then hung up.

Since this was long before cell phones, he had no way to contact me. I stayed the week in Dallas, had a great time, then on the Monday morning after I came back, I gave him my two weeks’ notice.

Now, since unethical people tend to project, he’d had someone come in to do a total audit on the computer drive and the books because, in his mind, I had embezzled a shitload of cash from him and then used the “stuck in Dallas” excuse to make my escape.

I hadn’t. But the fucker accepted my notice immediately, so I walked.

A couple of days later, I got a call from the receptionist asking whether I could call them back because they couldn’t figure out my accounting system.

Oh… did I mention that I’d cobbled together a combination of Word and Excel Doc macros and an ancient DOS-based version of Quicken in order to enter and keep track of the finances? And that in my two week notice letter I had specifically mentioned that I would need to train people on how to use it?

The Thursday after I gave notice, the paralegal called, begging me to come back to help. On Friday, the attorney called, and was somewhat threatening. But, hey… I’d made the offer and he didn’t accept at the time, so he was shit out of luck.

I never called back. I just left him with his own karma and went on to do something that I truly loved instead.

What was the last movie that made you cry?

Honestly, what movie doesn’t? I’ll just admit it — I tend to cry at movies that have emotional scenes. The last actual movie I think I watched was Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe because it showed up on Amazon Prime, and I remember crying several times.

What seems to trigger me the most are moments when the protagonist finally succeeds, so it’s very similar to a good wedding cry — and oh yeah, I do that all the time, too. Just the sight of the happy couple entering the venue and heading toward the altar gets me every damn time.

What two questions would you ask to get the most information about who a person truly is?

The answer to this question is subject to change based on timing, but currently, my two questions would be these:

  1. Who won the U.S. presidential election of 2020?
  1. What is your favorite reality show?

Obviously, to me, anyone who answers anything other than Joe Biden to the first question is not worth me wasting my time. As for the second, my most preferred answer would be, “Oh, I don’t like reality shows,” but then I realize that reality shows do come in different categories and… OMG… a couple of shows I like are, in fact, reality shows.

So… if that favorite reality show is any kind of of celebrity or bachelor/ette or attention-whore white trash fest, or any kind of New Age woo woo holistic healing GOOP-adjacent utter bullshit, then you’ve also told me, “Okay. B’bye.”

As for the reality shows I actually do like, they tend to be sciencey and the kind of things that would make the heads of People magazine fans explode. Two that I can think of are Mythbusters and Gadget Man.

If humanity was put on trial by an advanced race of aliens, how would you defend humanity and argue for its continued existence?

The only argument I can think of is this one: We’re not all complete idiots, and a good number of us have been fighting for the betterment of everyone since forever. Sometimes, we make advances. Other times, the scared, ignorant morons prevail.

But our species does have this bright and hopeful altruistic streak, dedicated to the idea that all of us who share this planet are one, because we all come from two single ancestors, more or less. If anything, we would ask that you judge us each as an individual, acquit those of us who want to accept all humans, and condemn those who don’t.

What you’d be left with should be that part of humanity that is worth saving and welcoming into the galactic or even universal community.

I rest my case.

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