I’ve started watching The Fugitive again. I have the complete series box set and ripped through the first three seasons in short order. But the fourth and final season — which is in color — is so preposterous I lost interest for a long time. Like maybe two years. But the DVDs have been hanging around the living room all that time, and Toney is starting to complain. So, I’ve decided to push through to the end and put the box set away for good.
The first three seasons are great. They’re atmospheric and melancholy, and make you feel some of the loneliness and despair of being an innocent man on the run, knowing that if you’re caught you’re going straight to the “death house” as they call it in the opening sequence.
But by the final year, it’s become full-on stupid. For a guy who is trying to lay low, he certainly gets himself into a large number of predicaments. In every episode, he’s working a different job in a different city, and using a different name. He’s a butler, or a field hand, or a pit boss at a casino, or a veterinarian’s assistant. But no matter what he’s doing, or where he happens to be, he finds himself in some sort of outrageous circumstance without delay. He gets caught up in any number of kidnapping situations, for instance, and is often being held at gunpoint by some smart-mouthed young tough who uses phrases like, “You ain’t going nowhere, daddy,” and that sort of thing.
Thankfully I’ve never been on the run from federal agents, but I’m fairly certain I could fade into the background better than Richard Kimble. I’ve had lots of jobs in my life, in five different states, and have never once been implicated in the death of a Mexican union organizer. Or been forced to go to bat for a wrongfully accused semi-retarded carnival roustabout. Or been hassled and beaten at a rodeo for refusing to wear “Western clothes.” I generally just go to work and come home when I’m done. Sometimes if I’m hungry I go through the Arby’s drive-thru, but that’s about as exciting as it gets. Not once have I found myself seeking refuge in the embassy of an obscure African nation, or felt a moral obligation to protect a young violin prodigy from his powerful and overbearing father. Maybe I’m the weird one?
Yes, it’s ridiculous, but I’m pushing through to the end. I want to see the final episode, which was one of the most-watched TV shows in history. I assume Kimble is captured, returned to death row, thoroughly sodomized, and eventually fried-up like a goddamn box of Sizzlean? That’s how I see it going, anyway.
By the way, the movie version of The Fugitive, with Harrison Ford, is one of my all-time favorites. It’s almost a perfect movie, in my estimation. I just wanted that on the record for some reason. I love that thing, every time I watch it.
Writing all that broke loose a memory of a book idea I had years ago. It was going to be a retrospective guide of a 1970s sitcom that never actually existed. For some reason, the show was called Billy White Eggs. Or maybe The Adventures of Billy White Eggs. I sincerely can’t remember why. But the book was to feature a synopsis of every episode, perhaps 150 in all. Every one of them, of course, would be absurd and wholly manufactured by me. And there would be a lot of fake trivia and history about the stars: where are they now? etc. Also photos. I was fired up! I sent a query letter to multiple agents and actually got a little interest. This was long before the website, by the way, when I was in California. One agent, in particular, was intrigued and invited me to submit a full-fledged book proposal. She asked me to sign an agreement of some sort and told me to get to it. And… I never wrote one word of the thing. The end. Great story, huh? Oh, there are more where that came from.
Thinking about The Fugitive, and all the jobs he worked during the run of that show, I wonder how he’d answer the question: What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? I mean, he was repeatedly shot and stabbed and beat to shit at work. I’ve got nothing to compare, thankfully. But I’ll answer the question.
The worst job I ever had was overnight stocking at a Food Lion grocery store in Greensboro, NC. The bosses were, without exception, assholes. And my co-workers were imbeciles who were also boring. Oh, I’d encountered many imbeciles by that point, especially at the Dunbar Exxon. But they were entertaining, which made it a little more palatable. The guys at Food Lion were both stupid and dull.
Plus, it was hard physical labor with a fair amount of pressure. The managers walked around yelling at us, and it just sucked all the time. They blasted some horrific Top 40 radio station in there, and they played maybe 15 songs in a continuous loop. No way they were playing 40. And it was shit like “We Built This City” by Starship, and “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister. There were many nights in that place when I thought I might a) take a swing at someone or b) break down in tears. Or both.
I was responsible for the so-called Cleaning Aisle. I had to buy, stock, and maintain every item in it. And the buying was the tricky part. The worst was the bleach. It came in giant boxes of six, and you could only fit maybe 18 of the big bottles on the shelf. And those 18 would disappear quickly. However, there was a Sgt. Carter asshole bastard who managed the backroom, and he’d be all up your ass if you brought in too much overstock. He had the floor taped off for each stocker, and you couldn’t have anything outside your allotted space. Those boxes of bleach were huge, so you can see my problem. If we completely ran out of bleach, the store manager would scream at me. And if I had a lot of overstock Sgt. Carter would lose his mind. It SUCKED. I was there for months and never cracked the bleach code. I was a little afraid of Sarge because he looked like he was capable of killing me with his hands, so I always leaned more toward running out. So, the store manager viewed me as an absolute incompetent. It was paradise, I tell ya.
Oh, and I forgot… We worked until we were done. So, no set quitting time. I was exhausted 24 hours a day, and my ego was being blasted without let-up. Oh, God. It was a terrible job. I finally quit and went to Peaches Records, for much less money. And that turned out to be one of the BEST jobs I ever had. Pass the beer nuts.
I’ll leave you with the same Question: What’s the worst job you ever had, and why? Please tell us about it in the comments. Hopefully, none of them resulted in you being held in a roadside diner by members of a motorcycle gang, or anything like that. I believe that happened to Richard Kimble multiple times.
I need to call it a day, my friends.
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I’ll see you guys again on Thursday.
Have a great day.