Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Illustrator Note: “Sorry boys, the production work is being shipped to the South Pole.” (Santa Claus, laying-off his worker elves.)
Issue of 2005-12-19
by Ian Frazier
Jobless sits, wretched, upon a curbstone. Everything he possessed has been taken from him. His accounts have been closed, house sol for taxes, warranties voided, policies cancelled, back wages garnisheed. His wife has left him for a vintner. His children have run away He has become aff icted with piles, boils, and scours. Creditors give him no peace.
Three of his friends, pitying his sufferings, visit Jobless and try to raise his self-esteem. Their exhortations only cast him farther down. They depart and he is alone. A righteous man, Jobless nevertheless begins to grumble, questioning the purposes of God. From nowhere, with a great manifestation, God appears.
Then the Lord answered Jobless out of the whirlwind of hot-dog wrappers and plastic drink tops with straws still stuck through them, saying, “Who is this that darkens counsel with poorly researched statements? Suck up your insides into yourself like a man, and hear me, and answer what I will ask.
“Where were you when I laid the cornerstones of the Nation? When I made the fields smooth but at a very slight angle, so the rains would run off, and set the boundary markers, and fixed the posts deep in the earth, so they would not fall down? Speak, if you know.
“When I put the land under my special protection, and all the fifty stars sang for joy, did you apprehend the song, or can you say what it was? And when I gave order to the leagues, each in its proper activity and season, and drew up the divisions, and the arrangement of calendars, the days and nights thereof, were you there also?
“Those who love me and praise my works enjoyed mighty victories in my name. The Dallas eleven held hands in a circle and bowed their heads and prayed with one voice to me, and I went before them on the field, and those opposing them fell, and Dallas overcame, and won it all not only once but five times. Tell me how I accomplished that, if you know.
“Have you seen the fastnesses where Overtime and Sudden Death abide? Can you explain, near the end of the year, who exactly is eliminated, and why, or can you say who will be chosen for the bowls? The runner who solicits my blessing leaps beyond his enemies; I cause their feet to stumble as if entangled in a snare, and they are laid low. Victorious, he kneels by the cushioned pole, removes his helmet, and prays earnest thanksgivings to me with a great host looking on. What is your complaining, compared to this?
“Yes, and consider even this example: When my servant David Ortiz, last year or the year before, in an important situation, entreated me in his heart for a hanging curveball, and I heard him, and ordained a hanging curveball to be thrown, and he smote it hip and thigh, and ended up at second, and stood there in the lights pointing straight up to the firmament where I in fact was, David Ortiz praising me before all the assembly and those at home, did you then understand the vastness of my power, or can you unfold for me the art of causing hanging curveballs in important situations which I employed there?
“Can you make a thirty-cubit putt drop at your command? The faithful petitioner squats upon his haunches, he weighs and judges the path, he closes his eyes and silently raises a solemn prayer to me. Are you conversant with the ways of the Bermuda grasses, and do you comprehend how the inclination of their blades to one direction or another affects what rolls upon them? Know you how the little pieces of plant food, invisible in the grasses’ lower depths, have a significant influence for success or ruin? Surely this knowledge, which is mine abundantly from the beginning of the world, is yours as well.
“Does your mind contain the winning numbers for tomorrow’s PickSix lottery? Correctly, in sequence as they will be drawn? Indeed, mine does—and not only for tomorrow’s, because I have ordained all numbers for every drawing for endless ages to come. Those who so beseech me, and keep my covenants, and do no very unclean thing, and buy chances faithfully, but also are above eighteen, I will reward an hundredfold with awareness of the numbers given to them in dreams. Can you do likewise? Speak, you, and answer me.”
Then Jobless, eyes averted, thus addressed the Lord: “I am dumbstruck at your power. How you do it, I in my weakness am unable t understand. You are the Man, the Almighty One. What additional can I say?
And again the Lord spoke, thundering: “Nor have I revealed to you here even a tenth of a tenth of a thousandth part of my dominion. When the rulers, and the captains of great armies, stand before the people, do they not unfailingly invoke my name? And when they ask me to bless the Nation do I not bless it, above and beyond, so that the richest oil anoints it, running down the head even into the beard, in such abundance as to comprise a quarter part of all the oil there is in the world? Does beneficence of this size lie also within your abilities?
“And though you complain against your rulers, and call them hypocrites, vipers, and fools, yet I tell you that they often speak to me in private, and I listen to their requests, and give them counsel, not in so many words, but as it were intangibly. For, if they are fools, why then are they the ones in authority, and not you? Have you ever been to a leadership prayer breakfast on the highest floors, nearer to the heavens and to me? No, truly, this you have never done, not even a single time, and yet you cry to me for aid. Neither do you listen to or watch my messengers, or send them the contributions that they ask for. Are you one of the mighty host whom they can summon even at the last minute to do as I have instructed? Behold, you do not even know what I am talking about, thanks to the virtual blackout these kinds of tidings generally receive.”
The Lord continuing in this vein for a while, Jobless waited patiently upon his curbstone, scratching his boils with a tail-light shard an paying heed. And when finally night had become day and the Lord had finished speaking, Jobless confessed his humility and joblessnes and manifold failings before the Lord, and prostrated himself, and blessed the Lord. And the Lord lifted Jobless up, and restored to him al that he had had before: children, and ex-wives, and house, and breezeway, and yard, and means of transport, and domestic animals, an temporary occupation without benefits restored He
And one night Jobless dreamed of six fat cattle with numerals on their sides, and when he awoke he paid the amount required and entered these numerals in the lottery, and lo! the very same were drawn, and Jobless grew wealthy and well favored until his money was no more.
And it came to pass that Jobless, from not seeing a physician as regularly as recommended, died and went to join his ancestors. And the years of Jobless’s life at that time were sixty-three.
In 1999, an archeological study led by scientists from Northern Illinois University examined several sites traditionally associated with the Jobless story, and could find no evidence that it had ever occurred. The only artifact offered as proof, a leather lottery ticket, was later identified as dating from a different time. Current scholarship regards the tale of Jobless in terms less of history than of myth. Indeed, its exaggeration is part of its appeal; no actual person, then or now, probably has luck that bad. One would be wrong to dismiss the story out of hand, however. After Jobless, never again would the Divinity address mankind so clearly or at such length. Never again, that is, unless you count a snack-cart man I talked to last week in a lobby in midtown. He said to take the Giants and the under, and I did, and made eighty-seven dollars.
link to the original posting