Monday, April 29, 2019

Checked Out: The Day Job Chronicles, Part 3

My days at the library were pretty strict: 19 hours a week, can't go over or under, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the main branch for job help classes, perhaps an off site class here or there, but I could not exceed 19 hours a week. I thought that was a strange number but...sure.

A friend of mine who owns a local pub heard that I had gotten a job with the library.

"Oh man," he said as he poured me a beer. "I worked for the library back in the eighties and nineties, when you didn't need a master's degree to be a librarian. It was run by the city then. I quit because of an issue with a flashlight."

He then told me that he had ordered some rechargable flashlights, to be kept here and there plugged in about the library, in case of a blackout. The ordering had to be done through the city, like he couldn't just pop into a hardware store, make a purchase and that would be that. All things, everything, was regulated and needed the approval of the city. Once again, very strict.

Apparently the situation had gotten pretty weird and overly difficult regarding the flashlights. There were meetings upon meetings concerning his order and the necessity of the flashlights, tons of paperwork had to be dealt with and filled out, endless conference calls were had, unnecessary red tape piled up - just because he wanted some flashlights for an emergency.

After a few months, MONTHS!, a package finally arrived for him. When he opened it, there were two old flashlights with some loose batteries rolling around. He specifically wanted rechargable. It was right then and there that he decided to leave the job and go into business for himself. So he bought a bar. Dealing with the city ordinance bullcrap had just gotten too much for him. Getting people drunk seemed like a much better option.

Luckily I didn't have to deal with stuff like that. All I had to do, for the most part, was sit in a small room on the 2nd floor surrounded by a bunch of laptop computers and wait for people to show up. When they did, better yet if they did, I was there to guide them through a fairly user friendly resume building program, show them the basics of applying online, being a second pair of eyes for their applications and cover letters and just being a guy who was there for them, even if that meant listening to sometimes insane, if not often racist and/or depressing, rants about how and why they can't find a job.

It was because, and this was an immediate observation, most of the people that came to my job class sessions were within the "iffy" category. A bunch of homeless looking folk would walk in and set up shop then sit there and either sleep or complain, some just got released from prison, some on the tail end of a meth binge, others harnessed mental problems, others with bad face tattoos. I got the hint real quick that the quality library people don't come to a job assistance class. Although I did see a librarian deal with some nut holding a copy of 'Mein Kampf' and screaming about how shoes are the real enemy. That was fun.

"All I wanna do is work in a warehouse," one gruff sounding/looking/smelling middle aged white guy in an old NAVY (not the clothing company, the actual military branch) shirt said. "But I don't know how to use a computer. I don't wanna know!"

"Sir," me trying to invest some 21st century modicum into his 60s robot scare dictum, "everything is computers these days. In fact, to find a job you're going to have to use a computer. To make a resume, yes, it's gonna be using a computer."

"Well I don't. It's stupid. I'm computer illiterate!" He said this rather proudly.

I was trying to be gentle. "Computers run warehouses now, and factories. No matter where you go you're going to have to use some kind of computer."

"I wish things were like they used to, before that Kenyan took over as president. You just walk in and do a job. I just don't understand this."

That guy was not uncommon. Men and women in that same ilk skulked into my job help lab and would be pissed off that they had to use a computer. In a room full of computers. The term "computer illiterate" got tossed around. A lot. They wore it like a badge of honor. It was pretty jarring to be honest. It'd be like a strict vegan walking into an Arby's and yelling "Well I don't eat meat! What are you gonna do about it?" in a temple filled with animal flesh butchered products. Don't wanna use a computer? Don't go to a place filled with computers! Would I go to an AA meeting and order a scotch and water? Probably. But at least I can identify irony.

One guy came in: older biker looking guy with a leather vest, handlebar moustache and eagle tattoos,  asking about truck driving jobs. I gave the name to several job search sites that might have an answer, but, he didn't want to hear about any of that. Again, yes, computers. Then I told him to just go to the truck driving (yeah, no idea on this, I think I said 'Peterbilt' but only because I watched "BJ and the Bear" as a kid) websites and apply to them directly. For some reason he "didn't have time to deal with their tracking device nonsense". Huh boy.

Then I made the usual, computer literate, go-to suggestion:

"You could always just Google whatever you're looking for."

He didn't understand what I had said. So I repeated, "You know....Google." He then gave me a puzzled look.

"What's a Google?", he asked.

Oh. Wow. Um....I was not prepared for this. During training I was poised to deal with some patrons that "may not be too savvy with the internet"...but a patron that doesn't even know the internet? Oh man.

So I reached over him, typed in Google and stated: "I give you kind sir...the universe."

After showing him how it, Google, worked, he took over, but with a distinct glazed look, as if a child was seeing the real Santa for the first time. Both the awe and the horror. As I walked around helping other patrons, I checked back in on Google man, only to find that he was muttering to himself and shaking a bit. It was as if he was staring into the eyes of infinity. Or the maw of Hell. Every time he typed something into that search bar, zing!, in .005 seconds thousands of links would appear. Imagine very early man emerging from the primeval forest, seeing the moon for the first time then throwing rocks at it. That was this guy.

"Sir," I said. " okay?"

The man didn't say a word. He didn't have to. He just got up, said he needed to take a smoke break, that he'd come back right after and then left the room.

He never came back.

One particularly slow day (aka, I was alone for the first hour or so, just Facebooking and playing Tetris and getting paid for it) this woman walks in asking if she can update her resume and apply for a few jobs. Absolutely, I said. She was pretty computer comfortable (whew, finally!) but said her internet was down at home. No problem, I said.

She was maybe in her late 20s, thin, pink hair, tattoos, wore thick glasses and had narrow penciled in eyebrows. She inserted her flash drive in a laptop, opened up her resume and started going to work. We chit chatted, enough to where she said her last job was at Fascinations, a sex shop up on Speedway Blvd, where she did the ordering, budgeting and accounting. She also worked at the strip club next door to it, the Bunny Ranch; sometimes as a dancer, but mostly as the staff admin and bookkeeper. I told her my story of working at a strip club, Curves, for two nights when I moved to Tucson in 2006. I was having a very hard time finding reasonable work. Back in San Francisco I spent some time being a Heavy Metal DJ, which meant I had some skills, and the only place that was hiring way above some minimum wage gig was Curves. For a DJ. It was the 2nd night I quit. Just plain left. The guy I was training under thought I was ready to do the next announcement. So he handed me the mic and asked me to read the info off of the dry erase board, which were the next 'dancers' coming to the stage, which 'dancer' was entertaining in the private VIP rooms and that you-call-'em shots were now $4. So I grabbed the mic, took a deep breath and prepared to do my best strip club DJ voice.

"Aaaaaall right guys, that was Cinnamon on the silver stage, coming up next is...*giggle*...uh, Sashay on the, uh...*snicker*...stage, and, um..."

I couldn't do it. I dropped the mic and ran out. Hearing my voice over the PA system just broke me. In various ways. Luckily I got a job managing a kids dinosaur and science museum that same week, but due to the owner's financial incompetence it shut down within a year. Oy, me and my luck with day jobs. Ugh.

The girl said that she was pretty much done with dancing and had been doing the Fascinations and Bunny Ranch accounting for a few years now. Those are easily very hireable skills. She knew spreadsheets, budgeting, file management, all sorts of marketable experience. She even got a certification in bookkeeping. She really wanted to move away from the 'adult' industry and go more mainstream. She also seemed really frustrated.

"I get it that I worked for a club and adult shop for years, but my skills are legit. Like who wants to do the budget and books for their business? No one. But I totally will and can. I just can't seem to get hired. Sucks"

When she was done updating her resume, I printed out a copy and took a look at it. Yeah, it read well, except for the porn-ish aspect. She had mad bookkeeping skills, all sorts of boring pencil pushing work that could easily land her a $50,000 a year gig somewhere. That is if employers can get over her previous employment business exchange. Meaning: boobs.

It was then that I noticed something that most potential employers probably wont get over.

"Um," I said. "If I might make a suggestion here. You, uh, need to change your email address."

"Why?", she asked. "I've had it for years. It's the one I always use."

"Yeaaaaaaah. But if you wanna go more legit, you're going to have to get a more legit email address handle."

She totally looked confused. "I don't understand."

I then had to just break it down for her. Tough love style.

"Your email address is sexywetkitty.69.4U@hotmail."

She thought for a moment before slowly tilting her head up and knowingly murmur a reticent "Oooooh."

"Yeah. That might give off a certain vibe from your past that you want to move on from."


Between the library job and the after school gig, I was doing pretty good. That is until one day I got a visit from the main library HR guy.

It was a Thursday and I was wrapping up for the day before heading off to the elementary school. As I was turning off some computers and reminding the two people who were sitting in there job hunting that the class was ending in ten minutes, he came in and looked at me with a funny grin.

"So," he said. "You wanna go full time?"

Oh wow. Way to be put on the spot. And kind of out of the blue. But yeah!

Full time meant government benefits, it meant insurance, it also meant having to leave my kids at the elementary school. But if I gave them a couple of weeks warning, it shouldn't be that bad. Still, it made me kind of sad. I really liked most of the kids at the school. Except that one kid that always had snot coming out of his nose. He was gross.

"Oh. Sure. Yeah. Great. Thanks," I said.

"Super. We're sending you to the Central branch. You start Monday."

Then he left.

Part 4 coming soon

Thursday, April 25, 2019

All That Fritters Is Gold

There are many perks to being a food writer and blogger - the fun events, the free food, judging culinary competitions, the free food, getting the word out on great new places, the free food, or reminding people of spots that have been around for quite some time but maybe they forgot about that are totally awesome and the free food.

Now, occasionally I'll open up my email to discover a random invite to something. I once got a sneak peak invitation to witness the first American unveiling of something called Scaleio, which is a "brine wine" or fish wine if you come from the native province from which it hails from, Uguntu, a small uncharted island in Lake Victoria between Rwanda and Kenya. Not only was it hideous but I couldn't feel my feet for almost a week after drinking it. And by 'it' I mean a case.

There was also the dim sum featuring toucan, a candy shop on the south side of Tucson that claims to harbor the "hottest steer flan in all of USA" and the infamous "piatto di tristezza", or sadness plate, from the now defunct Capezzoli Caldi restaurant in the foothills area where you sat in a corner and ate pasta while watching Italian farmers flog sheep on an old black and white TV.

It's not the most glamorous job in the world, but I love it and I love the free stuff even more. It's...what I do.

So when an invite from Dunkin' Donuts arrived in my inbox to be part of a social media "influencer" event I immediately jumped at the chance. Who doesn't love Dunkin'? I mean, America runs on it right?

So I put on some shoes, and then pants, and then realized that was wrong so I had to start all over and headed out to see what the big DD had in store for me.

Pour some sugar on me Dunkin'!


When I arrived at the event location on Speedway the place was abuzz, ABUZZ!, with Instagramers, bloggers, "foodies" and those that enjoy quality time with a quality donut. And then write about it and put it on the internet. But not in a creepy way.

The Dunk was decked out like an Easter jamboree, that is if the Easter Bunny was on a mad sugar rush, which, I found out later, is the street code for 'buying meth from an angry Canadian'. Donuts of all shapes (no wait, scratch that, they were all round) and colors were laid out for us to eat and photograph. I myself photographed first because when people take pics of half eaten food and then upload it for all to see with the tagline: 'Couldnt wait, had to eat LOL' I get a little nauseous.

Not only were there representatives of ye olde Dunkin' D but a lot of franchisers as well. They were watching the way the long time employees handled a crowd such as ourselves: people that started food blogs in hopes that the occasional gratis biscuit will be thrown our ways and, eventually, down our gullets.

"Freeloaders" some might call us but, hear me out. We work hard. I spend almost 10 minutes a day uploading content through use of my phone, usually, in a seated position in a restroom somewhere, and I expect not only results, but respect.

I take pictures of tacos and, yes, donuts, I put them on my social media pages with hashtags such as #donutsmakemegonuts or #idontwannatacoaboutit or better yet #faceham. And when I do, I earn the respect of the near 500 followers I have on Instagram.

You're welcome Tucson.

And world.

Oh, and the employees did mighty well by the way. Despite their non-blogging handicap. They are so brave!

All these donuts made me go nuts!

This excursion into the nether region of the DuDo universe (and I'm going to copyright that so if you're watching Dunkin' Donuts, I am watching you) was all inclusive. We got to make mochas. And lattes. And pull shots of decaf espresso.

Decaf espresso? That's like doing a non alcoholic shot of Jagermeister. Do you drink it just for the flavor? Do you also not eat the snacks provided after a funeral because you feel "sad"? Freak!

True story: I couldn't make a coffee drink because I stabbed myself. No really. The little pocket knife on my keychain was open and when I reached into get my cars keys (thats a lie, I was shoving in a jelly filled to eat later) I got cut. So I spent most of the afternoon explaining myself.

"My car keys are very sharp. No that is not a donut in my pocket. What's that over there? Is that MTVs Dan Cortese making a latte and also he is on fire?"

*runs away*

But I was having fun!

I got to meet a lot of local "influencers" and bloggers, most of whom have domain names such as or or When I told them about my blog and that I am the food writer for the Tucson Weekly, they would all nod and ask: "Doesn't the Weekly have a lot of stripper ads in the back?"

My answer was always a proud, "Yes. Yes it does."

So I spent the hour posting on all of my social medias to which one person commented "Way to go Whittaker! Now ask them for an application and get a real job you scum!"

My mother has always been a team player.

Then I met a giant cup of coffee and a chocolate sprinkle with legs but no arms and knew that it was time for me to depart. The sugar was getting to my head. Also the blood I was losing from that cut earlier had made me dizzy to the point where I asked a nice barrista "Please help". Only without speaking, just my lips uttering that plea. I had lost the use of my voice.

Well played DunDon!*

(*copyrighted 2109, Metal Mark Whittaker)   

Some coffee a mug and a personalized espresso cup, bucket list: fulfilled

Well kids there you have it. A brief look into the life of a food writer and blogger based out of Tucson that watches breakdancing movies with my good pal vodka late at night then cries himself to sleep because that last dance off was "so unbelievably fresh, so undeniably def."

To the crew at Dunkin' Donuts and the marketing firm that sent the invite...a sincere thank you. This blog is not to be taken seriously. At all. But I did have a great time and really appreciate the gifts, gift card and awesome spring themed treats. You guys rule!

Now if you'll excuse me I have a new assignment. A new food truck just started up today and I'm off to try it out. Because why? The owner, Benjamin, invited me. Through an email.

It's a breakfast themed cart specializing in egg dishes. He calls it Ben's Overeasy and I have a feeling its going to be...huge.

Thank you dear readers. And god bless America.

Ferrera. I love her in "Superstore".

I'm Metal Mark and I approve this hallucination!

Camera, Typing and Straight Dunkin' It
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
A Fine Afternoon in April, 2019

Metal Influence:

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Nice Creams!

The first time I got stoned was in Santa Barbara, CA around 1992 or '93. This was just a year or so after I had gotten drunk the first time back in my hometown of Carmel. I was in my early 20s and I was one of those dudes that really had no interest in getting fxxked up.

Perhaps it was because there really wasn't any hassle from my parents if I did drink or smoke. My dad always said that as long as I called him to pick me up, if I did get all plastered, and my grades were okay, and that I didn't make it a regular habit to party, then go ahead and be a "normal" teenager. But I guess I wasn't a "normal" teenager. Getting drunk or high looked ridiculous to me. A bunch of my friends drank and smoked and they turned into total idiots when they did. So I considered myself 'straight edge': no drinking, no drugs. Straight edge also meant, officially, no sex and, well...c'mon. Not that I was getting any in my formative teen years among the glorious hair and fashion era of the 80s. But if I were to get lucky, and I did later (thank you ladies!), I was definitely going to let that happen to my zitty, skate punk, Metal head, D&D playing pudgy self.

But I was older, more curious, and a really cute girl I was dating wanted to get me stoned. So I got stoned. It was fun. I smoked weed for a good decade or so. Then one day it just turned on me; the paranoia, the total implosion of thought and rationalization, it wasn't fun any more. And if its not fun, I don't wanna do it. I just packed up my bong and said "well, that was that".

It wasn't until years later, after moving to Tucson, that a mutual friend, a cannabis pastry chef, gave my wife and I a very potent edible. It was so jarring and powerful that we gave the other half of the brownie back to him. We just didn't want it in the house. It made everything go angular, movies didn't make sense, the idea of eating and chewing food had become taxing and that all encompassing paranoia had returned. Plus it was in our system for nearly 12 hours. We just laid in bed, trying to talk and freaking out.

How some people, a good populace of people, can do that on a regular if not daily basis is beyond me.

So when my friend said she is making weed infused ice cream, my first reaction was "oh no, do I have to eat that?", followed by "she is going to make a fortune."

Creamy, dreamy and weedy

"KJ" (not her real name as she has to lie a bit underground till this whole project goes full 'legal' and legit, I mean its legit but the logistics of running a cannabis food company is compiled with odd rules and regulations, so I hope you understand) and I met years ago as I blogged about her other ice cream company, one that she runs with her husband. They were nice enough to open their freezer doors to me and this dopey blog and give me a really great story. Since then we have become friends and run into each other at various culinary events across southern AZ.

Then a few months ago I get an email from KJ saying she is starting the brand "Elixir" under the new company name A.S. Alchemy. A medical marijuana ice cream project that she plans to sell in certain dispensaries around town, with the "A S" being the initials of her daughter. This is great I thought. Even though, as mentioned earlier, I don't partake of weed in any format of late, but what a scoop!

No pun intended.

Seeing as the weekly paper I wrote for gets a lot of ad revenue from medical marijuana dispensaries, which is one of the reasons the paper is called the "Weedly", I planned on getting this article in by 4/20. Which I did. But it took some time.

I started the process of writing about Elixir back in January, right about the time I took time off from my former day job after getting in trouble for a comment I made on social media. But we'll get back to that later...

The high concentrate of pure THC that goes into the product

That first day meeting up with KJ I was invited to watch the process in a dispensary on Tanque Verde Blvd. See, she can't officially make Elixir in the same place she makes her regular un-medicated brand. It has to be in a designated, state ordinate legal dispensary. Seeing as I am not a card carrying medical marijuana member, I had to go through a few channels, on her good name, to get a guest pass for the day.

Once inside my jaw dropped seeing, and smelling, all of the different varieties of legal weed. It was sort of like that scene in "Half Baked" when the guys rob the scientists' lab of weed. The look on Dave Chappelle and Guillermo Diaz's face seeing the acres of product is pretty much how I must have looked entering the retail space. Bins upon bins of buds, some small, some dark green, some big, some covered in little purple hairs...all of it. Now, I don't smoke weed anymore but, still. It was really impressive and made me jealous of those that can handle, and embrace, the high.

 It's a fairly small and contained operation, AS Alchemy. To get to where they are, KJ worked with a cannabis "chemist" for months to get the product up and running. Through lots of trial and a bit of error, it came down to butterfat to get the THC to meld into the ice cream. She does three different doses: 10mg, 40mg and 70mg.

Hovering my nose over the 10 or even the 40mg induced ice cream, I couldn't smell the weed. But when she opened up the 70mg and let me take a sniff, oh man, that's when I could easily get the scent. KJ said that some patients that are recovering from a deep addiction, such as heroin, eat her 70mg product a few times a day. Their body has been so wrecked by narcotics that the calming effects of marijuana is like an alcoholic drinking a Bud Light. It takes a LOT to get a serious drunk drunk off of a crappy light beer.

Elixir is far from crappy. Not even in the same solar nebula of commercially produced beer. The ice cream is beyond delicious and when she gave me a sample, not from the dispensary, but from her own supply, I was a bit hesitant.

BUT!, as a food writing professional I just knew that I had to get the full story, which meant eating a dosed scoop. Only 10mg though. 40mg would probably set me on fire. And the 70mg?

I'd be hiding under the bed with the doors locked, phones off, cat hidden (because she knows!!!), apologizing to no one in particular hoping that a pizza would magically appear but to order one would mean to interact with another human (they know...THEY KNOW I'M HIGH!!!) and operating a phone, which I can't, because it is hidden due to the fact that the government can hear and see me through that tracking device and they are coming for me.

They are coming.*

*yes, that is how paranoid I get on high grade have been warned


Well, one night, when the wife was at work and wouldn't be back home till at least 3am, I ate a scoop of ice cream. It was Mary Jane's Mint Chip infused with 10mg of sativa. A "budtender" at the dispensary informed me there are essentially two kinds of weeds trains: sativa and indica.

Sativa, she liked to describe it, was light and sunny, more of a happy high. While indica is heavier, which she said "Indica is also called 'in da couch', meaning you probably aren't going to be moving anytime soon."

Thankfully I was sent home with sativa based product, even though I was prepared to get in the couch high. Even though we don't have a couch.

Around 6pm I ate the ice cream. It was delicious. I couldn't taste the weed at all. Then I went about my night knowing that in about an hour I would feel the effects. So I showered, got food ready, found some dumb movies on Netflix and settled in.

Close to 7pm, while watching old episodes of  '30 Rock', it began to wash over me. The high, at first, we very mild, but it was there. I suddenly found myself focusing on Tina Fey's crooked mouth and how square Alec Baldwin's head is. Not laughing, because jokes and chatter were getting smudged. Things were happening on the screen but it grew harder to follow. Here it was, I thought. I'm going to be fairly high for a few hours.

But it wasn't bad. It's just that I'm not used to that buzz like I used to. It's more out of body than alcohol is. Booze just hits, me anyway, with more of a switch off matter, which weed does to a lot of users. Not me. Weed just makes me overthink and over emote. I'm not calm like I am after a drink or two on weed. I get more "I should really be doing something....but what?", which then tumbles into a weird shame spiral because I'm too internal to do anything about it.

So I watched some nature documentaries. That was better. Animals and insects in the wild doing their thing was much easier to relate to rather than the high antics of a joke per second comedy show. 

A dose of delicious chocolates

As the night wore on I realized that the dosage in Elixir is very smart. I was high but I wasn't crunked out, completely useless and freaking out high, like the time we ate our friends edible. I was okay. I could do this. In fact, I even made a cocktail later to ease me into sleep, because by midnight the weed was still in my system and I wanted to be asleep before the wife came home. Even though earlier I texted her saying I had eaten that scoop of ice cream. All she did was wish me luck and call me an idiot.

Then I went back two more times to take pics and get info on new Elixir products. KJ had introduced a line of 'potcicles', yes, popcicles infused with marijuana. There were also chocolate nibs decked out like jewels that were medicated and she had just made gluten free cookies, made with 10mg of weed, and was now making ice cream sandwiches. But these are only available to card carrying medical marijuana patients...for now.

The way laws are being tossed around, especially in states like California, Colorado and Washington, regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana, there might come a time in the near future, even here in ol' red state Arizona, when regular folk can enter a dispensary and purchase weed based products without a government issued card. Just cash. For now, that don't play so only patients can buy Elixir products.

Which is cool with me because I wouldn't buy the medicated version of KJ's ice cream creations anyway. The other brand is just so good and doesn't need, in my opinion, the extra effects outside of saying "Mmmm!" after you bite into it. For those that 4/20 on the regular, Elixir is a bright (green) light at the end of a short tunnel. I'm just really glad that someone as cool as KJ came up with this idea, worked through it, busted it out and is now making a serious go at being the (currently) only medicated ice cream company in Arizona.

Elixir got some love from me and is now getting other attention as well from food based websites. Very cool! I may not procure in the nestles of weed anymore, but I 100% support it. And this is coming from a guy that likes to drink, which has a seriously more harmful effect on the body. And society! If people got stoned before a sporting event, I'm convinced that when another team did a thing that you disapproved of, rather than get in the face of a fan of the opposing team, you'd be more inclined to say "Well, that happened" rather than what booze does and fights are inevitable.

If Elixir was sold in stadiums, rather than beer, people would just enjoy the show. I've been to too many Metal and rock shows to see when dudes (and its almost always dudes) go one brew over the line, fists and kicks are to be served to some unsuspecting fellow ticket holder. But that's just one aspect.

Those that actually need THC to help with their medical condition can enjoy a product that not only eases their pain, but eases them back to the simple pleasures of just being alive. Good ice cream just does that. Good food in general, which is why I love being a food writer and blogger. Food is life. And what KJ and Elixir do is life affirming.

So cheers to that and them!

Ice cream sammies with some ka-blammy

I still have a scoop of sorbet in the freezer (did I forget to mention she does sorbets now, with fruity flavored weed? oh sorry...because she does) and a chocolate bite or two in the fridge. Waiting for me. Tempting. But its going to have to wait. Getting me into the head space to get weed heady takes some time. But one night the urge will hit and I'll hit that funky goodness and, hopefully, be okay. The flavor and texture of Elixir ice cream and chocolate is just so darn good!

The paranoia just might be worth it. Although I really didn't get that paranoid when I ate that first scoop of ice cream. Although the cat did act a little weird around me.

Was she acting weird? Did she know I was a little high that night? Oh man. I gotta relax here.

If you are one of the lucky recipients of a medical marijuana card, then you are fortunate to get yourself some Elixir awesomeness.

You can follow them here on FACEBOOK and here on INSTAGRAM.

Cheers everybody. And thank you KJ for letting me, once again, write about your amazing sweet treats.

Happy 4/20!

Your gateway to awesomeness

Camera, Typing and Imbibing
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
4/20, 2019

Metal Influence: 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Checked Out: The Day Job Chronicles, part 2

The few days between leaving that slop mound of a burger joint and joining the ranks of the public library, was mostly spent sleeping and getting groomed for a "real job".

I lobbed off most of my long luxurious 'Metal Mark' hair and bought a nice pair of chino pants. Chinos. How amazingly honky could I get?

One thing I forgot to purchase, which I discovered the night before my orientation, was to get a decent pair of shoes; shoes that weren't Vans skate style. At the 11th hour I found a fairly unused pair of SFCs (shoes for crews), the norm for restaurant folk, especially those in HOH (heart of house, aka kitchen) as they are slip resistant and nondescript. These were slip on loafer looking things, so after a few beers I scraped off some kitchen crust, shined them up and set them with my outfit for the morning: a blue button down I got on sale at Old Navy, those chinos, dress socks and an actual clean under shirt. I was to be at the main library downtown at 9am. So my last beer was around 9, took a nice hot shower, watched a bad movie with the wife and slept.

The main library is a four level structure on the corner of Stone and Alameda, a big shapeless thing among a wide courtyard with this red, jutting, angular "art" thing in front of it. A place where bums converge and drug deals are made. Every city I have lived in or visited that housed a "main branch" library, especially the one back in San Francisco, was a magnet for the homeless, the sober-less and the less than bathed. But, whatever. I was so stoked to leave the confines of the kitchen and enter the confines of a public library. Even though it was only part time.

The position I got was something called Program Instructor, basically an extension of the library where I do classes such as job assistance, homework help for kids, stuff like that. I was still pretty shocked that I got hired. I hadn't really done anything like that since losing my manager job at this kids dinosaur and science "museum" called the T-Rex Museum. It was run by a weird hippie couple and was filled with fossils, activities, a movie theater, an outdoor dig space and a big gift area. You entered and exited though the gift shop. They were horrible with money and let me go just a year or so after hiring me because they lost all their non-profit cash. Then I started working in kitchens. Now the library came a calling.

I went upstairs to the 4th floor and entered a large meeting room with a big round table, sort of like that war room scene in "Dr. Strangelove". But I wasn't alone. There was a good dozen or so other people sitting and looking like they just got hired. After finding a seat and chatting with a nice guy named Wayne, he told me that the library hired close to 20 program instructors to be distributed among the near 28 branches. I knew that some of those branches were pretty far and because at the time the wife and I were a one car unit, I got kind of nervous.

After a bit, some official looking library people all brandishing laminate IDs entered and began their spiel. They thanked us, welcomed us before going into a lengthy measure, that I wont bore you with here, about the details of the job. Its part time, 19 hours a week (which I thought was an odd number) and we help people on computers, do workshops, like I said earlier for jobs and stuff, being a sort of library sub-teacher. Didn't seem that bad. Sure it's been a while but conducting classes in a library sounded a lot more mellow than dealing with ex-cons on the fry line who are yelling at you because you can't let them go into overtime. I was ready.

We were all then herded into a room where they took our picture for our laminate, had us sign a ton of paperwork, scheduled us for training and then, this was the big one, telling us which library we would be stationed in.

Of course they went alphabetical, so it took a hot second to get to me. People were getting sorted, yeah, kinda like in Harry Potter, to libraries with names like Nanini, Columbus, Valencia, Woods, etc, all of which I had never heard of. Except Woods. That one was the branch near our house, in a pretty crappy location, so I was glad to not get that one. Trying to teach Word to a homeless meth mess didn't seem like a good way to earn my $20 an hour.

"And Mark...Whit-takker?"

"It's Whittaker. Two Ts. I think I'm British or something."

The lady laughed. "Okay. Well Mark your library! At the main branch. Congrats!"

WHEW! I so dodged a creff and/or long commute bullet. The main library was near a bunch of downtown restaurants and it just felt, well, more austere to be working at the main library. I don't know why. Probably because a) it is the main one you know, b) its got 4 floors and this is where the library big wigs reside and c) there was a nice employee lounge where I could bunk off if nobody showed up to my class that day. I was then assigned to a three day training course and my first real day would be next week.

Alright, I thought.

Let's do this.

Afterwards a bunch of us mingled and talked about our backgrounds. Turned out a lot of people had degrees in library science, as that was the only way to get a librarian position.

"Really?", I said to someone named Kate. "A master's degree? Don't you just need like experience and such to file books and do storytime? Because I've done all that. I could be a librarian."

Kate just laughed.

"Oh no. Being a librarian is so much more than that. It's a pretty involved job. Community outreach, planning events, scheduling...there's a lot that they do."

Huh, I thought. And here I was thinking that this was step 1 to being a librarian. Masters degree? I don't want a masters degree. Especially in library science. Just seems excessive to spend that much on an outdated degree and not make all that much a year. Oh well. I guess I'll just be a program instructor. Whatever.

The library job only being 19 hours meant I had some extra time to write and goof off. But that didn't last long as I got another part time gig helping out with an after school program at an elementary school. So after I would finish my classes I would just drive up to the school and basically babysit kids till their parents got off work. All I had to do was be a responsible adult. What I did was play with the kids out in the playground, help with homework, do art projects and play educational video games. It was chill.

After my training, three days at some county facility to get certified in something called "employability skills" then some time at other branches shadowing other program instructors, who have either been doing it for a while or were on their way out, I was finally (I guess) ready to tackle my own classes. Seemed simple enough. Just like the elementary school, I'd be sort of babysitting old people who know nothing about computers (like zero, this one lady had no idea what the mouse was for and kept talking into it saying "In-ter-Nets") and general people that hangout at libraries all day in a room on the second floor a few hours a day. Could be worse. I could be back working in kitchens for low pay and long hours. This gig seemed like a cinch.

Although, over the weekend, before my first real day at the main library as a program instructor, I did have one observation:

Most of the people that worked in the library, either training me or the various rotation of randoms donning lanyards dotted with library buttons and those standard issue county laminates with their name, number and face on it, looked exhausted. Haunted even. There was this general patina of glazed over with a lot of the other program instructors, librarians, clerks or even the pages, which are part timers, usually teenagers, that shelve books and do menial tasks all day. There didn't seem to be a lot of joy. Only some kind of sheathed struggle. I don't know. I was probably being a bit over analytical. My thought was that they had just been working county jobs long enough and never had a real struggle such as busy kitchen work. I was stoked to be working for the library. I was going to bring my energy and humor to work with and for me. No need to be a sad sack at an easy job. What's the point in that?

After my first week of working at the library, I soon discovered why everyone looks so defeated. It didn't take me long. I got it.

Thing was, I had just gotten started. And there was no turning back now...

Coming soon, part 3