Tag Archives: work

Daily Discussion with BQB – Geoffrey Owens Working at Trader Joe’s

Hey 3.5 readers.

Unless you’re old like me, you probably don’t even know who he is.

And honestly, even if you’re my age, you probably didn’t know his name.  All these years, I just knew him as “The Guy Who Played Dr. Huxtable’s Son-in-Law” on The Cosby Show.

Recently, Owens was spotted working at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey. A photo was snapped of him with a gray beard and a Trader Joe’s name tag and cue the media nonsense that he’s a loser because he once appeared on a TV show and now he’s bagging groceries.

My first reaction is this sucks.  What’s that old saying?  “The best laid plans of mice and men…”

In other words, you pursue your dreams, but you also have to take what life gives you.  Sometimes that’s a role on a popular TV show you’re young.  Sometimes that’s ringing up produce when you’re older.

Look at what often happens to young celebrities.  They’re on a hit TV show when they are young.  Then that show ends and they assume they’ve made it.  The roles will come in, the money will come in but then, boom, for whatever reason, nothing.

Often, all this means is that people loved that person in this one role, but another good role was never found.  These young celebs often end up turning to drugs and alcohol. The idea of finding a straight job ends up feeling like something to be ashamed of.  Worse, if you’re still hoping for more acting work, rumors that you’re working a menial job probably don’t help.

So it sounds like one big crazy cycle of crap.

I can’t think of their names, but the actors who played Chunk on the Goonies and Paul on the Wonder Years strike me as good examples of young actors who knew when to hold em and knew when to fold em.  Both got out of acting and became lawyers.  Both understood that success in one role didn’t mean a ticket to stardom.  Both found something else to do.

In short, there was nothing wrong with Owens bagging groceries.  Really, what’s wrong with it?

Just talking about all actors in general, if you find that acting work isn’t coming your way, why not get a regular job?  Maybe you saved a lot of money from your acting days.  So what?  Get a job at a supermarket because, dude, seriously, what else are you going to do?  Sit on the couch?

Maybe you didn’t save your money, maybe you didn’t make as much as the public thinks you did, or maybe you were very responsible and careful with your money but dude, come on, money made decades ago won’t last forever….whatever.  Who cares?  If you’ve got the time and the acting gods aren’t being kind, then there’s nothing wrong with doing something else.

I guess what I’m saying is be nice to celebrities who get day jobs.  If you go through the drive-thru one day and spot an actor from a TV show you liked years ago, just smile and move on.

And hell, the economy isn’t what it used to be.  There just aren’t enough resources for everyone’s dreams and goals to pan out.  That guy who went to law school and is now bringing you your pancakes doesn’t need your disdain.  That dude who was a multimillionaire stock broker and is now cleaning your toilet doesn’t need your scoffery.

People have to make livings.  People have to keep their time occupied with productive work.  High levels of success aren’t always sustainable so don’t give people crap for doing what they have to do to keep bills paid.

Really, the only time you’ve lost is if you’re capable of doing work and yet you lay down, give up, crack open the bottle, and let all the naysayers keep you down.

And the good news is that Owens got a part in a Tyler Perry TV show though, I mean, just throwing it out there, it is a Tyler Perry TV show so, not gonna lie, a career at Trader Joe’s probably has longer lasting prospects.

Zing! Sorry. Can’t help myself.  No wonder this blog only has 3.5 readers.

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Thar Advice Blows with Captain Deathbeard – My Coworker Steals My Lunches

By: Captain Deathbeard, Special Guest Pirate

Capt. Deathbeard

Arr!  Avast, yon lily livered 3.5 bilge rats!  Captain Deathbeard am I and weary am I as I just pulled me vessel into the Isle of Tortuga, only for a local wench to fetch me a bottle with this message inside:

Dear Captain Deathbeard,

I work in a mid-size office with approximately 25 other co-workers.  For the most part, we all get along well.  Everyone is kind, courteous, polite and in general, we all care about providing a safe and comfortable work environment.

However, there is one person who has become a problem.  Every day, I go through the effort of packing myself a lunch.  You see, I struggle with my weight and I want to know exactly how many calories are in my food.  So, I get up early, pack just the right amount and bring it to work so I don’t fall into the trap of leaving the office for fast food or take out.  A moment on the lips and a lifetime on the hips, am I right?

Anyhoodles, for the past three weeks, Karen from accounting has been stealing my lunches.  I confronted her about this in the break room.  I pointed out that she was eating out of a Tupperware container with my name on it and she said that I’m wrong and that also Karen is just her nickname and her real name is also my name and that we share the same name. I don’t think this is true.  Also, she was eating the same things that I distinctly remember packing.

I want my plan to bring lunch to work to be a success, but I’m tired of going through all the effort only to have Karen steal the efforts of my labors.  I’m thinking about going to HR with a complaint, but I don’t want to be a tattle tale.  Should I file a formal complaint?  Maybe I should just give up on bringing my own lunches and eat out.  What should I do?


Frustrated in Jacksonville

Arr!  Ahoy yon Frustrated!  Ye sound like a lovely lass and were it not for the raging syphilis coursing through me longsword, I’d batten down yer hatches and keel yer haul till the day Davey Jones’ locker is opened, yo ho yo ho.

But admittedly, yar, I agree that ye be needin’ to skip the rich grub that be offered in the local taverns and bring ye own sustenance from yer cabin yerself.  Arrr, I been doin’ all manner of misdeeds and mischief for many a dark night, so I have no cause to judge ye with the watchful eye of the devil’s boatman, but I peeled me eyes at the picture of yeself that ye enclosed in yon letter and me first reaction was, “Arrr!  Whale off the starboard bow!  Grab the spears and throw them posthaste!  May the creator guide our throwin’ hands steadfast and true, yar!”

But then I realized ye were a human and not a whale.  A shame, most certain, for ambergris fetches a pretty penny in the perfurmery market.  Arrr, women do enjoy any opportunity to smell like the bile of a wretched sea monster, yar yar yar.

Frustrated, tis up to thee and all men and wenches must make their own minds in this life but I say if ye ever wish fer any sort of reputable gentleman to make merry with your fetid lady cave, then heed me warnin’ – ye must lose yon lard and ye must pack thine own vittles.

Avast! Gather round the lantern and look into me eyes, the eyes that have seen certain doom and lived to tell the tale.  Know what I say next to ye is true.  Arr, yon Frustrated, ye must get in Karen from accounting’s face and spin the yarn below thusly:

“Arr, yon Karen from accounting!  Vile, despicable hag witch that ye are, remove thine skeletal fingers from me provisions and hang ye head low for thine treachery!  Art thou daft, wench, to not surmise that we be part and parcel of a kindred crew, that we be all aboard the same boat, and when ye sabotage mine efforts to not bear a likeness to a great whale, ye not only do me harm but harm to thine self, for if I fail then yon mid-size office fails and if that fails then ye fail!”

Yar, barring that, I’d advise to rattle a sharp saber in the hag’s general direction, threaten her profusely and perhaps take her family hostage aboard thine ship, making yon Karen aware that her kith and kin will only be returned if yon lunch is returned safely or, if yon lunch already has bite marks, then only when yon Karen provides an alternative lunch of equal value.

Arrr, but I hear for the purposes of the laws of man that I cannot advise ye thusly and only kind words of reason will do.  Arr, ridiculous as I always let me cutlass do me talkin’ fer me, but I suppose ye live in a strange age when women run the show, yar.

Ahoy, Frustrated!  A final thought.  Have ye considered buryin’ thine lunch?  Simply pack ye baloney sandwiches and apple slices into a wooden crate, locked with a lock forged from iron and adorned with a skull and cross bones.

Dig a hole so deep that it leads ye to fear that ye might come out in the Orient if ye were to dig any further.  Arr!  Blast ye, yon PC hipsters! ‘Tis but a trifle for me to say, “Orient” fer I be from the 1600s, mateys.  Arr.

Bury ye lunch and be sure to mark its location on a map with an X.  When ye are ready to feast on the innards of ye store bought yogurt cup, fetch thine shovel and obtain thine delicious reward.

Arr, just don’t let ye map fall into the wrong hands…and especially keep it away from that bitch Karen, arr.

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If People Kept it Real at Job Interviews


It’s so sad that people feel they have to bite their tongue throughout life’s most tense situations.  We ask questions of each other, searching for the truth, but we hold back when it comes to our questions and our answers, fearful that saying the wrong thing might just blow whatever opportunity lies before us.

I don’t know about you, but wouldn’t it be great if people just spoke freely?

Take the average job interview, for instance.  The potential employer wants to know whether or not a candidate will be a good employee, but doesn’t want to run afoul of the myriad of laws regarding the questions that employers are and are not allowed to ask.

In contrast, the prospects wants the job and wants to make a good impression, so much so that the BS flows freely, while the real reasons why this person would be a great employee are left on the cutting room floor.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone just kept it real?



EMPLOYER:  OK, listen up, fuck stick.  I was like you once, a young, dumb, bright eyed bushy tailed kid full of piss and vinegar, love and life and then you know what I happened?  I blinked and twenty years passed and now my parents are dead and all my aunts and uncles are dead and my childhood cat is dead and literally everyone I cared about is dead.  I didn’t spend much time with them though because I pulled long nights at this place and even though I have carried this sinking ship full of assholes on my back for years, they only finally got around to promoting me to this position of authority.  So I’m pissed off and ready to heap abuse on a young kid that reminds me of my former self.  It’ll make me feel better to treat a young person badly, the way I treated.  I’m going to literally blame every mistake I make on you, I’m going to scream obscenities at you all day long and I’m going to make you feel an inch small at all times.  At no time will you ever feel like you possess a modicum of job security and I reckon within three months it will take every last ounce of strength you have just to pull yourself out of bed and come here every morning.  Can you handle that or are you going to be one of those pansies that quits after the first day and then have your Mommy call and leave a voicemail message for me, saying you were dropped on your head repeatedly as a child and I should take you back and give you another chance?

EMPLOYEE ANSWER:  Yes sir.  Yes indeed.  You see, I’m down to my last twenty dollars and I estimate that by the end of the month I’ll be giving hand jobs to homeless people on the subway just to make a little walking around money.  I wish I could tell you that I took my time at college seriously and had the requisite foresight to realize that the past four years should have been spent obtaining impressively high grades, internship and volunteer experiences, undergoing intense training and obtaining valuable credentials but in reality, I spent the past four years chasing hot chicks who wanted nothing to do with me and drinking beer.  Copious amounts of beer.

But I assumed, “Hey, I have a college degree so that guarantees me a good job.”  Three years ago I would not have touched the shit job you are offering with a ten foot pole, but now that I have suffered the indignity of living with my parents for the past three years, having them micromanage every last detail of my life well into my adult life, there’s literally nothing that I would not do in order to obtain this job so that I can pay the bare minimum necessary to keep the student loan people from sending goons to break my legs.  Also, it would be great to get my career started and obtain one smidgen of quasi-respectability on my resume.  Bonus?  I can actually tell Uncle Fred and Aunt Edna that I’m working at Thanksgiving.  They graduated 500 years ago, when you couldn’t walk down the street without tripping over a job, so they don’t understand why it isn’t easy for me to get a job.  I feel like telling those miserable old bastards to watch the news and learn how the world has gone to hell in a hand basket and we’re lucky that jobs even exist and we all aren’t just running around in leather outfits and driving junker cars through the desert like “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” but they’re old and they don’t hear well.


EMPLOYEE QUESTION:  Yeah, that’s all well and good, but honestly, I don’t like your face. You’re an ugly person and I feel like if I have to walk past you on my way to my desk everyday, it’s going to make me sad.  Would you be willing to wear a paper bag over your head with a  cartoon smiley face drawn on it just so I don’t have to feel like I’m a bad person for hating your guts because God gave you that face?

EMPLOYEE ANSWER:  I certainly would sir.  You know why?  Because late at night, when I’m not able to sleep, and FYI, it’s been six months since I’ve slept because I literally worry about my future all night, I see this image of me as a dead old man in a pine box.  No one is at my funeral because I never built up the kind of life necessary for people to care about me.  Even worse, my obituary is just one line.  “He graduated from college and then did Jack Shit for sixty years after that because no one would hire him.”


EMPLOYER QUESTION:  I don’t know.  A lot of people come in here, telling me that they’ll work hard but then they don’t and it pisses me off, so much so that sometimes I sit in my office, close the door, and weep uncontrollably at my inability to travel back in time and give my young self advice based on everything I know now that I did not know back then.

After I dry my tears, I’ll probably roll up my sleeves and do all the work I told you to do because I’ll be so exhausted by your incompetence that I’ll just say, “Screw it!  I’ll do it myself!” while you sit on your computer and masterbate over your Facebook friends’ lunch photos.

EMPLOYEE ANSWER:  Not gonna lie.  For the first month, I’m going to show up on time.  My hair will be neatly combed, I’ll be clean-shaven, and I will wear a suit and tie.  I will perform extra tasks without asking.  I will assess all of your needs ahead of time and have what you need ready before you even think about asking for it.

Then about a month it, I’ll forget all about those three years where I sat on my parents’ couch playing video games and crying into my chocolate milk because I’ll think of myself as having made it, so you’ll begin to see a gradual decline in my work and appearance.

I’ll start my not shaving.  Then I’ll lose the tie.  Then the suit.  Three months into this you’ll be lucky if I show up wearing pants.

Four months into this I’ll be late for the first time.  When you don’t notice because you’re in a meeting, I’ll do it again and again.  It’ll be one minute late, then five minutes, then a half-hour, then an hour.  Before you know it, I’ll be waking up at four p.m., writing down a couple of ideas about work on a piece of scrap paper, then going back to sleep only to try to convince you later that I was more effective because I worked from home.


EMPLOYER QUESTION:  That bothers me because by then, I will hate your guts and literally day dream about slamming your head up against a wall repeatedly for all the turmoil you’ll be putting through, but then I’ll remember that if I fire you, I’ll just have to put in a ton of extra work to train your replacement.  Plus, since your generation is a bunch of asshats, that new person might be as worse or, God forbid, he might be even worse than you.  The thought that the next person might be worse than you will keep me from firing you long after it’s clear to everyone who actually does their job around here that you deserve to be fired.

EMPLOYEE ANSWER:  And I’ll be honest and say that yes, I will milk every bit of that and even though you’ve been here for twenty years and I just started, I would say around six months in I’ll gain an inflated sense of self esteem and convince myself that I should own this place, that it would fall apart without me and you should all kiss my ass if I even pop my head in for twenty minutes.

But right now?  I’m desperate.  I’m so desperate.  I’m twenty-five years old.  I don’t want to ask my parents for spending money anymore.  I don’t want my mother reminding me to wear a jacket when it’s cold.  I don’t need my father bitching at me for bankrupting him on the electric bill every time I don’t turn out a light at the exact second I no longer require the light anymore.

Right now, I would do anything.  There’s nothing you could ask me that I wouldn’t do.  You could ask me to suck your dick and I would do that for you, no questions asked.  I’d tell no one.  All you would need to do is stand up, unzip, pull out the old frank and beans and I would go to town on it.  I’d give lots of eye contact.  I would not forget the balls.  I might even give a little tickle around back…and then we’d never speak of it again.  It would be like it never happened.

That is how badly I want this job.  That is how deeply scared I am that in this economy, where all our business and political leaders have failed us miserably for years, that I will never become a productive person, that I will never accomplish anything to be proud about, that I will never be able to move out, or have a wife and kids of my own.  I’m so scared of never amounting to anything that you may feel free to use my face for your personal amusement.


EMPLOYER QUESTION:  See, you say that, but you have this fancy college degree.  It means shit right now because you have zero experience but once I give you a little bit of experience and prove to other employers that you’re in it to win it, you might leave me high and dry.  You see, there was a time when employers actually cared about employees.  Employers gave their employees training.  No one felt any jealousy and people went out of their way to help each other.

That time is long gone.  Now, honestly, after the years of pain and bullshit this company put me through just to obtain one lousy promotion, I would literally feel like biting down on the business end of .45 Magnum and pulling the trigger if I were to ever learn that after I gave you a leg up with some useful on the job experience, you were able to, say, parlay that into a job that pays better than mine by the end of this year.

If that were to happen, I realize the only healthy thing to do would be to wish you well and not be resentful of the fact that life went your way while it bent me over and had its way with me, but them’s the breaks, kid.

Sure, if I weren’t keeping it real, I’d probably say something like, “You’re so overqualified with this degree from an outstanding institution of higher learning that I wonder if you would feel unstimulated and unchallenged in this working environment but really, you should read that is, “I will literally hurl myself off a cliff if you ever do better than me in less time than it took me to get where I am today.”

EMPLOYEE ANSWER:  I understand that if I weren’t keeping it real, I’d tell you how wonderful I think your company is, how I’d be a great match for it, how this job is everything I ever dreamed of but I’m desperate, so remember that offer to suck your dick?  Still on the table.  Hell, I’m so tired of picking spare change out of my parents’ couch cushions because I’m too proud to ask my father for allowance at this point in my life, that I will throw in some butt stuff with that offer.  You want butt stuff?  You’ll get butt stuff.

Do keep in mind though that everyone has been telling me how great I am my entire life. My room at home is filled with dull, dusty trophies that my school gave me for meaningless victories like “Always colored within the lines” or “Always remembered to close his mouth in class so flies wouldn’t buzz into it.”

So, while you are correct, I will show you no loyalty whatsoever and will blow this pop stand the instant a better offer comes along, for the foreseeable future, I’m so tired of seeing my parents choke back their tears and hold in their disappointment every someone asks them over the phone how I’m doing and they lie and say, “Oh, he’s just fine” when I’m clearly not fine that you can get mouth and butt stuff from me.  It’s all on the table.


EMPLOYER QUESTION:  But come on.  A degree in philosophy?  Are you kidding me?

EMPLOYEE ANSWER:  Nope.  No joke.  Four years ago I was so literally fucking stupid enough to think it was possible for me to become such a great philosopher, that I would take everything I would learn and use it write a book that would become so popular that its great insight into the human psyche would cause world peace to break out that I signed up to take over a hundred grand in debt even though everyone, literally everyone, my mother, my father, my aunt, uncle and cat all told me I should major in something more practical.

Now, after being denied gainful employment for the passed three years despite having gone on over one hundred job interviews, I realize how hard the world is and it is all I can do but curl up in my bed in the fetal position and wait to die.  I used to think I could change the world.  Now I would dance a jig if you were to give me this demeaning job where I take your abuse and fetch coffee for you all day and act as a cover for you so you can tell your boss it was my incompetence that kept you from getting your work done on time and not, because, you know, you spend your afternoons snorting coke in the bathroom of a golf course on company time.

Did I mention that my cousin who spent his high school years huffing paint can fumes and following his favorite rock band around the country became a plumber and now he’s married, has three kids, a house that you could fit three of my parents’ houses in and he’s taking his whole family to Hawaii this year?


EMPLOYER QUESTION:  I see.  Do you have any questions for me?

EMPLOYEE ANSWER:  Right.  I’ve heard this part of the interview is important.  I really don’t think you’re going to hire me so I’d like to get home and cry into a cheesecake as soon as possible but what the hell, I’ll give it a try.  Is your break room OSHA compliant?


Hell if I know.  This whole place could fall down on the heads of all my employees for all I care and all I would do is step over their lifeless corpses on my way to outsource their jobs to a call center in India.  By the way, do you know their are kids your age in India who would walk barefoot over a mile of hot coals just to sit on your parents’ couch for an hour?

Hey listen, I’m going to shake your hand now and tell you it was great to talk to you and thank you for coming in, but the second you walk out the door, I’m going to curse our nation’s education system for producing young people who seem like they get dumber and dumber every day.

Also, I’m going to tell you that you’ll hear back from me in 3-5 business days but if you call for a follow-up, no one here will remember who you are, myself included.  If you get a pre-printed form letter informing you that we appreciate your interest, you were such a great candidate but we had so many great candidates that the decision was difficult (don’t believe that by the way, you were so awful that if a monkey walks into this room after you leave and offers to work for bananas, I’ll hire him) and we wish you well in all your future endeavors, consider yourself lucky.

EMPLOYEE ANSWER:  Thanks!  I’m going to go home, eat an entire pie, and then humiliate myself by asking my mother to stroke my hair and sing me a lullaby in the hopes that will give me the sleep that has evaded my so long now, because I know my life will be spent on go nowhere interviews like this for the foreseeable future.  Oh and even though you saw the smallest amount in me necessary for you to even waste your time meeting me, that won’t cheer me up at all.  I will still tell everyone that you were a dick and this is all your fault and not my fault for majoring in philosophy.

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Labor Day Reads

We here at the Bookshelf Battle Institute for Excellence in Learning How to Read English Good believe that you should spend this Labor Day Weekend basking in those last few precious moments of sun before the Fall rolls around and Mother Nature makes you get out your sweaters and jackets again.  Save the reading for when the snow is piled up ten feet outside your window this Winter.

But – supposedly this is a holiday dedicated to celebrating those who labor, and has nothing to do with getting in one last day off before the weather goes South, so here are, in no particular order, some books to read if you want to learn more about the plight of the downtrodden working man:

1)  Hard Times by Charles Dickens – Oppression of the masses!  Factory workers in love!  The rich get richer!  The poor get poorer!  Workers get covered with soot and talk in cockney accents!  That’s pretty much every Charles Dickens’ novel ever written  but the plight of the poor is especially prevalent in this one.  Arguably, it’s not Dickens’ most memorable work, nor is it his best, but it’s a good piece of literature and, well – I don’t know if you need to give a SPOILER WARNING for a book that was printed in the 1800’s (I mean really, you had your chance to read it already, sheesh!) but suffice to say, Mr. Gradgrind forces all of the wit, whimsy, and dreams out of his kids, forcing them to focus on the practical.  “Stop dreaming and start making some money!” is pretty much the speech that every parent gives to a youngster sooner or later.  And it’s not necessarily bad advice (dreams are great, but paying your bills and being able to eat is good too) but Gradgrind goes a bit overboard and his son ends up a loser while his daughter ends up married to an old man twice her age.  In short, try to find a decent living and keep your dreams intact at the same time.

2) Of Mice and Men – Many of John Steinbeck’s novels are about the plight of the working man.  In this one, George and Lenny are migrant farm hands in California.  They move from farm to farm, the bumbling, dim-witted Lenny usually makes some mistake that enrages the local farm folk, forcing them to pack up and wander off to in search of a new gig.  They make it to another farm where they meet an old man and together, the three of them cook up a dream to save up their money and buy a small patch of land which would allow them to become their own bosses.  It almost pans out until – well, hey listen I’ll let you read it but take a note ladies, don’t allow enormous, musclebound dummies who don’t know their own strength to stroke your hair.  Really, it’s just common sense.

3)  Les Miserables – Victor Hugo’s epic novel turned Broadway Musical turned movie tells the tale of Jean Valjean, who stole a loaf of bread, did hard time for it, and had to take on a new identity just to get away from the shame of it.  He prospers as a town Mayor and factory owner, but when Fantine is forced out of her job at his factory due to gossiping old biddies, he goes on a quest to save her daughter, Cosette and is always just moments away from being nabbed by the obsessed Police Inspector Javert.

Surely you’ve all heard this little diddy:



Valjean, at last!  We see each other plain.  Monsieur le Mayor.  You’ll wear a different chain!


Before you say another word, Javert!  Before you chain me up like a slave again!  Listen to me!  There is something I must do.  This woman leaves behind a suffering child.  There is none but me who can intercede.  In Mercy’s name three days are all I need.  Then I’ll return.  I pledge my word.  Then I’ll return…


You must think me mad! I’ve hunted you across the years!  Men like you can never change.  A man…such as you!

It’s funny, people get mad when Valjean doesn’t give Javert the three days, but when you think about it, a police offer can’t really be all like, “Oh sure man, no problem, take all the time you need and I’ll just arrest you whenever it’s convenient for you.”

4) Death of a Salesman – Depressed and old and little to show for a life of being a salesman, Willy Loman commits suicide.  Maybe don’t read this one actually, it’ll just bring you down.  Your high school English teacher probably made you read it anyway.

So, let’s recap:  We have four novels dedicated to the downtrodden working poor and they’re all about the characters either killing themselves, killing each other, or otherwise dying miserably.  Apparently there are no novels where someone just gets a job and enjoys punching a time card everyday.  Kind of sad really.  Work=death according to the most popular books about the lower class.  How about a  book just about the Labor Day holiday itself?


5) Labor Day – Joyce Maynard’s novel turned movie about a depressed mother and her awkward son.  They’re taken hostage by an escaped convict.  Wrongfully accused, they rally around the man and almost run away with him until the police catch on and haul him back to the slammer for a long, long time.


OK I give up.  It looks like there are no happy, uplifting books about the subject of labor or Labor Day itself.  This list was a total waste!  Have a nice weekend anyway, I’m off to go grill some burgers.

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