I don’t want to be one of those people always complaining about my job, but when you’re disrespected, undercompensated, and not satisfied with your work-life balance it’s tough not to be.
With every day passing I’m a little older, a little slower, and a little closer to death I’d imagine. I wonder if this will be it. Will this be how my life is remembered—living in pursuit of the carrot and in fear of the stick? I wonder if I will ever be able to chase any other dreams, if I’ll ever be able to relax without anxiety, if I’ll ever be able to run free.
I hate this job, but this is all I know. And, at the end of the day, I’m a coward; I avoid uncertainty and confrontation whenever I can, and nothing is more uncertain and confrontational than leaving a job.
It’s a typical morning; I’m just passing time before lunch. Darren storms in and riles everyone up. Quite frankly, I don’t know why we let him boss us around; he’s just a thirty-something with problems controlling his anger. That’s why his wife left him and that’s why he was fired from his old job, so I heard. Regardless, we all spook easily when he starts in and pretty soon we’re following him to meet our new clients.
I could do Darren’s job; he’s just a figurehead who needs two packs of cigarettes a day to keep his emotions in check. He just trots us out and then matches us up with our personal patrons. For the most part the paring is arbitrary; however, without fail, he will constantly save the fattest, most repulsive customer for me.
It’s always me. It’s never a different story. You see, I’m Jellybean: the stockiest pony at a summer camp for middle-school kids. Each day is just another chance for Darren to saddle me with another gross, pudgy twelve-year-old to lug down the three-mile trail.
Today’s task is daunting to say the least. Even with the booster step to help him get up onto my back, it still takes Darren and the other two ranch hands a good four minutes to get this one wedged into the saddle.
I’m all too familiar with this type. His perpetually sticky fingers indicate that his bulging pockets are filled with some sort of gummy treat. This isn’t my first rodeo though; as one can tell, my mane has been riddled with discarded bubblegum, taffy, and even a melted chocolate bar—all stuck in there by other thick children from the weeks past.
Intuitively, I follow the processional down the trail. The chubby brute accidentally touches part of my coat and I feel my hair congeal itself to his palm before he rips it off. Today is off to a rough start.
Ten minutes into the journey and I think he’s starting to sweat. He’s panting like he’s going to collapse from exhaustion yet the only physical activity he’s done today was sitting on a moving pony. Yeah, I hope his parents didn’t want an athlete.
We’re approaching the turnaround and he’s just been contently munching. He gasps, softly and surprised, before emitting a high-pitched fart with an odor so overpowering that I’m startled.
My gaping nostrils fill with the musk of old socks and cottage cheese. I take two quick steps backwards and one step forward. Off balance, the pudge lets out a wail of distress as he begins to fall. No, not fall. Fall gives him too much credit, like he was bucked off while trying to stop a stagecoach robbery en route to save a woman from being tied to some railroad tracks by a mustachioed villain.
No, this corpulent customer slid off my back nice and slow. Like a sunset; it was gradual, beautiful, and once it began you knew what the end result was inevitably going to be.
The flesh ball landed in the grass, screaming and gooey, although the latter wasn’t my fault. Try as Darren and the two ranch hands did, they couldn’t boost the near-inhuman mass back onto my backside without the aid of the booster step, which, to my delight, was conveniently located back at the stable.
I walked back down the trail, free of any load. The portly little porker waddled behind me wheezing, chaffing, and complaining at having to walk the distance and I couldn’t help but feel happy today.
I hadn’t quite taken down Superman, but this was enough for me.
I reflected that, despite my stressful line of work, with a little luck my back problem will hold off long enough to keep me going long enough that I can outlive this pre-diabetic butterball.
Yeah, that’s enough to keep Ol’ Jellybean going.