I was tired of only writing this column and living off of the generic ramen noodles and ketchup packets—a friend calls it “Spaghetto”—I could almost afford on my salary, so a while back I went out and got another job I never told you about before. A union job.
And I’m just standing there a couple days ago, holding this sign, when these foster kids come up to me and demand to know what I’m doing. Like I know. Something about shame and the American way of life. I don’t get paid enough to know. I get paid just enough to stand on a street corner harassing the company that helps homeless little brats like these foster kids. I mean, seriously, can’t a Shredder stand on a street corner protesting a business anymore without everyone and their pet schnauzer wanting to know why? The question they should be asking themselves is why they’re not joining me.
I’m just out here defending the American way of life, standing where I’m told to stand, holding the banner I’m told to carry, without asking why. And isn’t that the real American dream? Not having to think, not having to question what the hell your boss is thinking, even when they tell you to harass a nonprofit that provides vital services to the county’s underprivileged?
This gig’s pretty sweet, too. I might not have a ready response when asked why I’m out here, but I made sure to let Family Care Network CEO Jim Roberts know that I appreciated all the lovely ladies traipsing in and out of the facilities while I stood outside. Well, maybe I wasn’t the one to say it, but Roberts said one of us did. I guess if we can’t shame them into backing down, we can at least creep them out. And ladies, I just want you to know: I’m all union. And all American. And you know what they say about studs who are all union, right? Actually, I think what they’re saying right now is that we’re bullies who are misguidedly targeting a nonprofit and making both ourselves and unions look bad in the process. But that still gets you all hot and bothered, right? I heard picking on underprivileged families is the modern equivalent of buying a surf and turf dinner for a date.
While my buddies and I at the Carpenters Local 1800 might not be paid to think, we’re super flexible about where we work. And by “work,” I obviously mean create a kerfuffle at places where people are actually working. I’m not really sure what they do at these places. In fact, I’m not actually sure what a carpenter is. Maybe it’s just a jackass holding a banner, or someone clip-art scribbling a rat chewing on an American flag. Which, if you think about it, is a really unfair characterization given that rats are highly intelligent, loyal, and personable. I’ll bet you’d never catch a rat running around with a banner without a pretty good explanation for why he was doing it.
When I say we’re flexible, what I mean is that we’ll unroll our banner for anyone, anywhere, anytime, so long as we’re getting paid. We’re a lot like Westboro Baptist Church in that regard, except their payment comes in the form of virgins in the afterlife. Or was that terrorists?
I really need to stop trying that joke in print.
Back in 2010, our sister branch from Camarillo picketed an ice cream shop—Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab in Arroyo Grande—which was awesome, because we could swipe sweets from little kids as they left the shop. We figured they’re just going to grow up to be scabs anyway. Or rats. Shame on them.
I’m not entirely certain why we stood out in front of the ice cream lab. Knowing why I’m doing what I’m doing has always been above my pay grade. I think it had something to do with the fact that the shop was opening another store in a Santa Maria shopping mall that was supposedly using non-union labor for remodeling. We figured our feet would get tired if we tried to march around the entire mall, so we simply went to a smaller business that was maybe kinda affiliated with the mall. Every business in the entire world is related by seven degrees of separation. I read that on a bumper sticker somewhere.
At one point we did the same thing in front of Meathead Movers, which was totally cool on account of it’s this company owned by two local brothers who employ local student athletes. Which is a great business model … if you’re into sucking up to the community and wanting everybody to like you. At the Carpenters Local 1800, we like to take the high road. We don’t care if people like us, so long as they’re aware of our presence and slightly confused and alarmed by it. So don’t you worry, ladies of San Luis Obispo County:
Where there’s a business that’s possibly connected to another business that once used a non-union socket wrench, we’ll be there.
Where there’s a nonprofit helping out foster kids, we’ll be there, demanding our $60 an hour.
Where there’s an ice cream shop bringing joy to children on a hot summer day, we’ll be there.
Where there’s an American worker actually working, we’ll be there to heroically battle back the tide of the degradation of the American worker.
Just don’t ask me why.
If Shredder has to work, then so does everybody else. Send picket signs to firstname.lastname@example.org.