Not long ago, Sam and Jack discovered that if they wanted to buy things, they needed money. And since their dad and I are big, huge meanies who didn’t just spring open our wallets when they wanted us to fork over $20 for the best pack of baseball cards like ever, they asked us to give them jobs and a weekly allowance.
“Okay,” Chris told them. “But first you’ll need to fill out an application and provide us with a few personal references. This isn’t the damn Waffle House where they’ll hire you based on how many teeth you have left in your head, you know. This is the suburbs, gentlemen. We background check yo ass.”
And so, after a little bit of grumbling and a lot of debate, Management finally decided where the boys best fit into our organization. (It should be noted that they do the usual clean-up stuff around our house that they’re expected to do and we don’t pay them for that.) (Unless you count room, board and Netflix.)
Back to the job assignments. Sam was the obvious choice for Sanitation Operations because he’s the oldest and he smells. A fact we discovered on our last family road trip when we realized we didn’t actually hit a skunk in New Mexico; the stench in the car was from his armpits. Displaying the wisdom of 12-year-old boys, he said he’d left his Speed Stick at home where “nobody could steal it.” Good thinking, kid, because the La Quinta Inns of the Southwest are just rampant with thieves hoping to score a few half-used tubes of deodorant. I hear they go for millions on the Russian black market. Trillions if they’re clinical strength.
In his new position, Mr. Sam is responsible for taking the trash and recycling cans out to the curb twice a week and bringing them back in before our neighbors lodge a complaint with the HOA and/or I nail them with my Volvo again. He’s also in charge of changing the litter box, which I tell him is on-the-job training to be a either a Hollywood publicist or a political handler when he grows up since he’s learning how to deal with the shit of others.
“Ten bucks Olivia Pope of Scandal spent the first 15 years of her life lugging around boxes of Tidy Cat,” I told him last week.
“I don’t know who that is,” he muttered. “But her parents must have wanted her to suffer, too.”
Which brings us to the junior member of our organization, 10-year-old Jack. He was first given the position of Floating Vacuumer Guy, which meant he was supposed to use the Dustbuster and vacuum cleaner to clean up the 10 metric tons of crumbs that appear every time a Cheez-Its box is opened in our house. But alas, like all men given powerful positions before they’re ready, he abused his authority and went on a rampage where he sucked up everything in our house he didn’t like. And we soon learned that the list of things Jack doesn’t like is very long, and includes things like my driver’s license, his math homework and Virgil the cat’s stomach fur. (The list of things he does like? Cheez-It crumbs.) As they say, absolute vacuum power corrupts absolutely. He was Richard Nixon with a Texas accent and a Dyson.
But fortunately, Jack has no problem with food, so Chris then decided to make him his Grocery Store Apprentice. Chris loves grocery shopping, and that’s a good thing because I consider grocery shopping to be a necessary evil right up there with annual OB/GYN visits and reading comments on my HuffingtonPost articles. And yes, I know I’m “lucky” and “fortunate” that there’s a nice grocery store near my neighborhood and I’m “blessed” to be able to afford nutritious food, but that still doesn’t mean I like squeezing melons next to the PTO president when I’m wearing last night’s zit cream and there are 20 bottles of wine and a box of Gas-X in my cart. And trust me, that bitch is always there squeezing melons. Probably how she relaxes after a day spent terrorizing the Kinder moms with her clipboard.
At any rate, Chris and Jack now go grocery shopping once a week and each trip takes at least 90 minutes. They read labels, get food samples, and explore every single aisle like they’re on some kind of scavenger hunt where the list includes things like “artisanal coriander” and “something on sale that Wendi doesn’t like so let’s buy 100 of them.” It’s been a big help to our entire family and Jack takes it very seriously.
Of course, there are some things they never remember to buy, like bread, milk and eggs, so I still have to swing by the grocery store myself quite often. The last time I did, I took Jack, and that was a mistake because he’s now completely full of himself and his job. “You’re not going in the right direction,” he told me when we walked into the store. “Dad and I always start near the pharmacy.”
“Yeah, well, this is how I do it,” I answered. “Trust me, I know how to shop for groceries.”
“That’s not what I hear,” he whispered while I plopped a watermelon onto a carton of eggs in the cart. “I hear you’re a flat out nightmare, lady.”
The rest of the shopping trip that day included lectures on how I should have used coupons, the proper way to put items on the conveyer belt, why I should let him buy a Jimmy Dean sausage-wrapped-in-a-pancake-on-a-stick thingy from the frozen section, and how he was going to tell Dad about all the things I did the wrong way. I’m telling you, it was just like having a real employee who thinks they know more than the boss. And for that, I’m kind of proud of him.
But maybe next time I’ll let him do all the work while I stand next to the PTO President and squeeze the hell out of the melons.