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April 3, 2009

Mocking the Unmockable: Laid-Off Workers, You’re Next!


The guy in the coffee shop had just been laid off, and he was upset. But not with his erstwhile bosses.


He was upset with me.


“Me?” I protested. “What did I do?”


“It’s not what you did, D.F.,” he said. “It’s what you won’t do.”


“Look,” I said. “I’d hire you if I had something. It’s just –“


He shook his head.

“That’s not what I meant,” he said. “I don’t want to work for you, D.F. I’ve seen how you do things.”




He continued:


“I’m upset with you because you write those columns where you make fun of all those people in business. You make fun of Rick Wagoner. You make fun of Kirk Kerkorian. You make fun of Lee Iacocca and everyone on Wall Street. You do this all the time. But you won’t write a column making fun of me, will you?”


I did a double-take.


“You want me to make fun of you?” I asked. “For what? For being laid off?”


“Yes!” he said. “That would be awesome. The people you make fun of in your column didn’t just screw up. They screwed up in a way you make sound interesting, entertaining and hilarious. Take Wagoner. Dude loses $38 billion in a single year, and you’ve got me laughing at him. That’s awesome! I want people laughing at me like that.”


“But you’re –“ I started, then stopped myself because I was this close to becoming condescending.


“I’m what?” he asked. “A poor, helpless blue-collar worker?”


“Well, you make it sound so pathetic,” I said.


“But that’s what you were thinking, wasn’t it?” he asked.


“Well, I mean, yeah!” I said. “If I make fun of people like you, the newspaper editors who run my column will scream that I’m insensitive! My syndicate editor – actually he probably wouldn’t care – but readers all over the place will call me a callous bastard!”


“See?” he said. “I don’t need to be treated like some sort of weak, wilting flower. I’m a man. I work hard. I’m smart. I’ll find something, or I’ll figure out a way to make a living. In fact, stick ‘em up!”


I jumped five feet in the air.


“Just kidding,” he said. “Point is, it is condescending when you make fun of the fat-cat CEOs but treat us blue-collar grunts like we’re some sort of untouchable sacred cows! Now . . . MAKE! FUN! OF! ME!!!”


I whipped out my laptop and started writing:


“Larry Blevins is used to being told, ‘See you tomorrow’ by his co-workers, but today, the message was, ‘See you on the unemployment line, fatso!’


“Maybe Larry could set up a doughnut stand for all the other line-standers. Then again, I hope he takes food stamps . . .”


You know? I think I’m feeling this. The only problem is, with Larry’s attitude, I doubt he’ll be unemployed very long. I’ll have to mock quickly.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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