UnemploymentQuest! Episode 3: Citizen on Patrol

For the last 3 months at the old job, we slaved over the "baja board." A pointless job is akin to wintering the dark months of the Antarctic. The Norwegian Party of 1911 would answer an imaginary telephone when their alarm clock rang. The British Antarctic Expedition published a newspaper and staged several Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Under the psychological pressure (or decided lack thereof) of those final 6 months, an antarctic winter of the soul, we had devised the Baja Board.

At the premium-branded burrito eatery Baja Fresh, you place your order (Ultimo Vegetarian w/black beans) at the register and are issued a ticket marked with a number from 1 to 99. The food really is good, the natural beauty walking past our Sunset Boulevard location was even better. We started eating there every Monday and Friday, to kind of bookend the week. That 1 to 99 series seemed so finite, and yet so random, that we began a great experiment, the Baja Board.

The Board was a 4 x 8 foot slab of black foamcore. I drafted out a 10 by 10 grid of receipt-sized boxes, and numbered them from 1 to 99. There as the single-digit series, the 10's, the 20's... you get the picture. After lunch, I would take up the receipts and post them. The overall speculation was how long it would take to fill every slot. Figures ranged from 3 to nine months. It was a race to fill the board before we were all shitcanned. Our determination was unwavering. It became religious ritual - go to Baja every Monday and Friday and ALWAYS ORDER THE SAME THING. We had a team of about 6 guys. If anyone wavered, I would browbeat them, "Don't get off The Boat man! Never get off The Boat!" I even tried to get the same cash register girl, the plucky Beatriz. She knew my order by heart.

We never made it. We filled about 68% percent of the board. It was through no want of trying. So, PT and KL called me up and, in their unemployed state, wanted to drive down and meet me at the baja nearest to the halfway point between downtown LA and Santa Clarita, for old times sake. The answer was the Bravo Foxtrot in Burbank.

So I pick up fellow Team Baja player CP and drive up to Burbank. We have a stellar lunch, where I find out KL already bagged a new job, and might be able to hook me up. It's up in Pasadena, which would be double plus good on the bike commuting front.

Lunch over, I drive over the 76 to gas the car, as I'm running on fumes, working off my average range per tank on the odometer, a little game I like to play. I take on the usual 85 pounds of fuel (14+ gallons), and get ready to pull out.

This is when the Universe issues to me my latest UnemploymentQuest! moment. Running down the street, frantic, is a young blond woman. She's pursuing a regional transit bus that just surged away from the stop. She's dressed like a Mennonite - long calico print skirt, white cotton blouse, her hair up in a bun high on the back of her head. It's like her time machine deposited her just a couple of minutes too late to catch the bus.

I turn to CP, "I'm going to help that woman!" Why not? I've got nothing better to do. I floor it out of the gas station and slew to a halt next to the Time Travel woman. Her skin is milk white, her high cheekbones flushed from the heat and her bus chasing. I pop the locks on the back doors and roll down the window. "Hop in, ma'am! We're going to catch that bus!"

Shockingly, without hesitation, she jumps in. "Oh bless you! Bless you!" she exclaimed climbing in. In her defense, I am very clean cut in appearance, as is CP. We rocket away from the stop and down Victory Boulevard. After 5 minutes of some pretty aggressive driving, we catch the bus as it waits for a cyclist to load his bike. Pull in front of the bus and the woman climbs out. "God bless you for your kindness!" she says. "You have a good heart."

As we pull away from the stop, CP turns to me and says. "This is how you spend your days now, isn't it? You drive around doing good deeds."

"Yes. Igloowhite - Citizen on patrol."

I'm in no position to pass judgment on my heart, but we can all use a blessing every once in a while.