I returned home to Lake Elsinore a few weeks ago after spending a year at Brigham Young University, and I have been bored out of what’s left of my mind. Not that this surprises me, mind you. On the contrary, I have lived in the fine city of Lake Elsinore all my life, and never, at any point, has it been entertaining, except for when the Ortega mountains were on fire. So I didn’t expect to have anything to do, not with fire season still several weeks away.
So I was bored for a while, largely because I didn’t have a job or — the two seem to be inter-connected — any money. I started looking for jobs, but no one seemed to be hiring, and I finally became so desperate that I started applying at fast food places, which are, quite frankly, beneath my dignity, and beneath everyone else’s dignity too. My grandfather insists that no work is beneath your dignity as long as it’s good, honest work, but this is the same man who paid me less than minimum wage for the first two years that I worked for him, so I don’t believe much of what he has to say about work ethics.
I even applied at McDonald’s. What’s worse, I got an interview there. I didn’t even realize you had to have an interview to work at McDonald’s. I assumed the only qualification for working there was that you had to be willing to work there, which I imagine eliminates most people right away. But I had an interview, and I guess I did all right; I don’t know what kind of stuff they look for. Can they tell by my responses to such questions as “Where did you go to school?” how good I would be at flipping burgers? I was pretty jovial and friendly during the interview, so I guess that ruled out the possibility of being a counter employee, a job which, in order to be done properly, needs to be performed by someone who is surly and grumpy, as if he or she had just been woken up from a nap.
But I didn’t get the job at McDonald’s — you cannot imagine the impact that being rejected by McDonald’s has on a young ego — so the job search continued. I eventually found one, at Miller’s Outpost in Lake Elsinore, and that alleviated my boredom. And not a moment too soon. I was so bored that I actually assembled a jigsaw puzzle. It was a puzzle that I purchased at a thrift store, and it depicts the Last Supper. It is easily the tackiest puzzle I have ever seen, which is why I bought it, but I never intended to put it together. I always intended to give it to someone sometime as a cheap (50¢) gift, but I got bored before I got a chance. So I cleared off the kitchen table and started looking for the apostles’ body parts. When I finally finished it, I taped it together and hung it up on my wall, as a monument to my boredom. It’s sort of like the Vietnam Memorial: If we are constantly reminded of our past horrors, perhaps then we will work harder to prevent them from happening again. I know I am.
My first column for the Californian (see the preface for more info on how I got the job), this one is average, nay typical. It was probably a good indication for the reader as to what to expect in the coming weeks: A few jabs at the Lake Elsinore/Temecula area, and a few little episodes from my stupid life. This was my first chance to do local satire (the fire thing in the first paragraph) since I'd been away and really learned how to do it. My columns for the Lake Elsinore News before I went to BYU tended to have generic, cheap jokes at the expense of the community; now I was doing good stuff, at least for the time being.