Tuesday, June 29, 2010

License Plates

Some years ago I got a custom license plate during a Chinese gift exchange. I intended the plate for Shotgun Bob, but for some reason he traded it to me for a set of loaded dice dangling from a string of used Mardi Gras beads or some such. So, here it is:

I bought this at a flea market in Jacksonville, Florida. The motto, Roll the Bones, refers to a story written by Fritz Lieber which you can read here if you like. I enjoyed the ending of the story:

Then he turned and headed straight for home, but he took the long way, around the world.
From Gonna Roll the Bones by Fritz Leiber, 1967.

Having survived a supernatural ordeal perpetrated on him by his disparaging, pestiferous wife and overbearing mother, the protagonist both fulfills his duty to return to home and hearth from a night on the town while at the same time giving himself a life filled with strife of his own making; a considerable victory.

My license plate has caused a good deal of commentary. One neighbor from my home in Florida noted the tag and decided the car belonged to a young black man; he was quite startled when he discovered the real owner of the car - an old white man who showed clear evidence of being rode hard and put away wet too many times.  Another time I was interviewing for a job in Kalamazoo, Michigan and my prospective employer asked me if I gambled. His tone showed his disapproval, but given his personality I wouldn't have worked for him anyway. His achievements were significant and included building a successful company from the ground up, but his was somewhat obsessive as evidenced by his office, one wall of which was filled with statuettes of roosters.  There must have been well over one hundred on the wall opposite his desk.


Stephanie Lorée said...

"one wall of which was filled with statuettes of roosters"

There are so many inappropriate jokes to make about this.

Unknown said...

excellent post, and I have downloaded story.

Mad Jack said...

Thank you both for your kind words.

Yeah, the roosters were something else. This is one of the few job interviews I've ever been on where I was tempted to leave early with the explanation that I refused to work for crazy people. The office was a normal size, maybe a little larger than usual, and one wall was filled with floor to ceiling shelves crowded with roosters. Someone is on the train to Crazy Town - whee!

The other interview was years ago with a company here in the Toledo area. Therma-Tru Doors in Maumee was looking for a COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) programmer with UNIX skills, which I happened to have. The shop was run entirely on COBOL on (I think) SCO Unix. The only editor available on site was vi in spite of the fact that emacs had long been available for free and was far easier to use than vi. Mind you, a C compiler is almost always included with Unix, yet these fools were using COBOL and ISAM tables. When the director of I.S. discovered I had the requisite skill set he called me in for a series of interviews that ended with the director of personnel, a young man that I found vaguely disquieting at first and, 30 minutes later, frightening. He concluded our interview with:

"It's just like I told my five year old son, 'Son, we make money and have fun doing it!'" The man then broke into maniacal laughter, staring at me wild eyed.

I think I mumbled something like, "Yeah, that's real nice. Well, would you look at the time!" before grabbing my resume and walking out of the conference room door. The director was hot on my heels and I had a long walk ahead of me, and the faster I walked the faster he walked. I finally reached the door to the lobby a few steps before I would have broken into a dead run.

The only other thing I remember about the place was that the President/CEO didn't have an office so much as he had a throne room, complete with fireplace.