It came as no shock as I looked at the paper that our noble Leaders declared our Nation’s economic plight. Vaguely, I understood the declarations after earnestly seeking employment for the past two years, though never in Cincinnati. Maybe my first clue was the infinite numbers who trod the highways from nowhere to anywhere searching for a friendly face and a pot of somewhere beans on the side of the road. The $miling faces of Henry Kissinger and foreign Dignitaries sipping martinis around the Table of Salt has non meaning as the daily want-ad routine is fulfilled amid articles of depression-hunger-recession-starvation, saturating the local paper.
Somewhere is a missing link I think. A rationalization for this insanity of non-work dollars as I say my morning want-ad prayer and call the appointment gods to seek a hearing.
“Good Morning,” the Living Robot answers, “May I help you?”
“Ah yes, I’m calling about the ad for a maintenance man of some means.”
“I’m sorry, someone has been hired.”
“Oh, well, could I borrow ten dollars?” (said to the connection’s death). Some seven more calls and I’m appointed for an afternoon rendezvous with E. C. Right, Hunter of Foxes — Hooray! Position: Caretaker.
Hours later the rolling hills north of Durham surround me. A collage of woodland, lush green pastures, old faded tenant homes and the occasional colonial mansion paradox. Fidgeting excitedly I pull to a stop right at the right farm. A regal palace surrounded by the aforementioned pastures with equally elegant barns and able stables. 15 or 20 medium sized hounds greet me; two varieties — English foxhound and Buffondo terriers, woofing-barking-sniffing, as a tall slender gentle man approaches from the palace, introduces himself to me, asks about my qualifications as a caretaker. I reply that I love hard work and animals, grew up on the farm, know everything worth knowing about the specifics of electroencephalograms or some such nonsense. “Mr. Ilyo,” I hear myself addressed, “the job quite simply is taking care of our 15 hunter horses, our 120 foxhounds, Daisy our cow, and of course, the Grounds.
“We hunt on Tuesdays and Saturdays and of course, the riding tack must be cleaned immediately after the hunt. Follow me and I’ll show you the stables.” On the way I was informed that the job payed $400 a month with a cottage furnished and of course, I should be sober if not somber. The stables were immaculate and of course, the riding tack was also. I, trying urgently to convince the gentle man of my worth, groveled at his feet saying that all my life I’d been looking for the opportunity to live in the country and shovel horse manure. Seemingly convinced, he took me back to his house, took my number, took my references, took my took. Whereupon, I groveled my way back home confronted with the numbers of 120 x 1 pound daily (dog food) plus 15 x who knows what (horses) plus Vampire’s Rip (vet bill), etc. 25 maybe 40 thousand dollars a year to hunt fox.
Waiting the week out for the Right call I regretted my applying for the job more each day. I knew I would have to accept the job if offered, but prayed that it would not be my fate to bear any association with such a flagrant violation of all I believed. My prayer was answered. Mr. Right called to let me know that, regretfully (his not mine), the taker of cares position had been filled.