Working for the man (in the red suit)

...and other jobs of Christmas Past

What a Boon it Was to Observe the Guys who Spend Christmas Jerking off Behind Glass

A peep show is like a urgent care clinic: open all day, every day in defiance of holidays observed in the outside world. The tableau never changes behind the glass: Nude girls languish on their cracked leatherette chaises regardless of whether it's Halloween, Thanksgiving, or the locust-thick dawn of the apocalypse. At a peep show, the sole indicator of Christmas revelry is the occasional "Naughty or Nice" novelty panty being sold, still warm, to a smitten customer. Even if every dim-sum joint in town is shuttered, it's safe to assume that peep shows and strip clubs are open. Wide open. There's no long winter's nap for the wicked.

When I was a peep show employee, I was asked to work Christmas Day. Most girls would have groaned at this mandate from on high, but I was secretly delighted. What a boon, from an anthropological perspective, to be able to observe the guys who spend Christmas-- not just a random day during the Christmas season, but Christmas proper-- jerking off behind glass. Now, I'm aware that lots of people don't celebrate Christmas, but most folks at least get the day off and spend it among family and friends. The holiday season is a time of redemption and reflection. What kind of misanthrope arms himself with lube, Kleenex, and a latex sleeve on Christmas morning?

I soon found out: all of them. My Christmas shift was brisk and businesslike, and the customers seemed unaffected by the holiday. I, however, could not rid myself of the yuletide perspective. Christmas carols wormed their way into my subconscious. Sugarplums bobbled in my head. I imagined gaily-striped candy canes where there certainly were none. And as I lay cold and squirming on my designated cot, I couldn't help but be reminded of a certain babe in a manger.

My environs just couldn't distract me from the ingrained memories of Christmas days past. And someday, when I tell and retell this holiday tale to my raptly attentive children, I will emphasize that Christmas retains its mojo in even the most cheerless of surroundings. And that batteries are always an appropriate stocking-stuffer. --Diablo Cody


We Took Revenge...One Small Appetizer Plate at a Time

The Christmas bonus made it clear the company party that followed would be time better spent at home watching Friends reruns...alone...over lukewarm soup. But the boss was bidding on a $1 million home in need of renovations--what were we expecting? To be rewarded for the bottomline results that funded his purchases?

The mood throughout the office was grim. To perk up the troops, I half-jokingly suggested that since the party was at a tapas restaurant, we should all just keep ordering, and take group revenge one small appetizer plate at a time. That night the ordering was frenzied. The boss's wife must have been short-changed too--maybe she wasn't so keen about moving to the suburbs--because she caught on quickly and enthusiastically ordered away while regaling us with tales of her husband's boorish tendencies.

He grew increasingly red-faced as the plates stacked up. By seven, he informed us the party was over. We headed for the coat check to retrieve our briefcases and his wife's mink. It created an opportunity to scold me for what turned out to be a very expensive evening--I should have anticipated how ravenous the staff would be after a day of heavy...investment management...before suggesting tapas. like I knew they'd be given cause to be so hungry for revenge.

My briefcase and Mrs. Boss' mink came with a smile. The attendant went back for the other briefcase. We watched her struggle and struggle to lift it off the floor. It wouldn't budge. Appropriately enough, it was stuck in rat poison--a nice little Christmas bonus after all. --Gayle Ronan


Ammunition, Knives and Machetes, Sniper Scopes, Stun Guns, Tasers, Pepper Spray, Police Batons-Everything Anyone Would Need to Have a Merry Christmas

Several years ago I had a temporary job over the "Holiday Season" in the warehouse of the mail-order catalogue "The Sportsmen's Guide," in South St. Paul.

"The Guide" is sort of the premiere lifestyle magazine for rednecks, survivalists, militia men, soldiers of fortune, and anybody else out there who happens to find regular occasion for dressing up in camouflage fatigues (orange or green or even khaki; they're a diverse bunch).

My job was on an assembly line, packing all the Christmas goodies they had ordered into boxes. I was like one of Santa's little elves, only instead of toy trains and candy canes, this year Santa was mostly giving away a mountain of Government Surplus and an arsenal of deadly stocking stuffers.

I packed box after box brimming with Christmas goodies like ammunition, knives and machetes, sniper scopes, stun guns, tasers, pepper spray, police batons--everything anyone would need to have a Merry Christmas. And for those whose taste in gifts is even worse than the average "Guide" shopper, they offered a hideous line of "wildlife art" and home decor, as well as charming things like replicas of Nazi military artifacts such as knives and helmets, replete with jolly little swastikas.

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