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5:38 a.m. - 2001-06-11

FRIED CHICKEN AND MUFFLERS

People.

You have not LIVED until you've attended a Carquest picnic on a hot summer day.

Okay. You've LIVED. But after attending a Carquest picnic, you will realize just how sheltered your life has been.

So we went to the Carquest picnic yesterday. Carquest deals in auto parts and my wife works at the local Distribution Center here in town. It's a nice building ... she's the head of human resources (i.e. personnel) there. It's not like she stands behind a greasy counter eight hours a day saying "Whale...it sounds t' me lahk yew need a new mufflah on dat dere Ford truck."

She hires and fires the idiots that do that.

And this picnic was FULL of idiots that she had hired.

First, we drove thirty minutes to Camp Grandview where the picnic was held.

It certainly would have helped if my wife had brought the directions to Camp Grandview. Instead, I had to ask four convenience store employees how to get there.

"Camp Grandview?? You go left at the house with all the dogs, go about a mile and then you'll see a sign that says YMCA and you turn before you see that sign."

"Camp Grandview? I thought they closed that down a few years ago."

"Camp Grandview? Ain't that where that psycho Jason the Killer guy lives?"

We found Camp Grandview and got there just in time for the Awards ceremony.

Jumpin' Jesus on a rubber bible ... these people LOVE to hand out awards.

I guess it builds morale and gives some of these grease monkeys the initiative to go out there and sell more mufflers and monkey wrenches ... but for those of us who are spouses of Carquest employees, this ceremony is about as fun as gangrene.

Here's an excerpt from one of yesterday's inductions and acceptance speech:

"This next guy sold more auto parts than the rest of you motherfuckers combined. That's right. He's the king of auto parts and he kicks all y'all's asses. We don't even need the rest of you fuckers because this guy is carrying the company. Put your hands together and give a big warm Carquest welcome to Store Manager of the Year...Rob Jones!"

(Everyone applauds as the same g-damned guy that wins every year struts to the front of the tables, accepts his stupid little plaque, shakes the CEO's hand and walks up to the bullhorn.)

"My fellow Carquest employees. I win this motherfucker every year. I'm carrying this company. I'd like to ask each and every one of you to start hustling your asses because my hall closet is full of these stupid assed plaques and I'm tired of having to do all the work while you fuckers live day to day and expect me to keep this company afloat. I'm serious. Get your asses in gear because I feel a heart attack coming on any day now. You ungrateful bastards."

...Or something like that.

I hate the Awards Ceremonies, because I don't know any of these people and they're always joking about each other's personalities. They'll say shit like "Next is Bubba...and as we ALL know...Bubba doesn't like raisins!! Am I right?? AM I RIGHT!?!?!"

And the whole place is hootin' and hollering and laughing. And I have to ask Susie what's the deal with Bubba and raisins. And she'll tell me some story that one time Bubba found some raisins on the counter and was eating them only to find out they were mouse droppings or some shit like that.

It's all inside Carquest jokes and if you're not involved with Carquest, you can either do one of two things ... sit with a cold stare on your face or laugh like a fucking maniac at something you don't understand in the least.

I choose to laugh like a maniac. I howl with laughter.

"BUBBA!! RAISINS!!! OHMIGOD, THAT'S FUNNY!!!"

Stuff like that.

So after the Awards Ceremony, there's a prayer. That's fine, I've been praying all day that this shit would go by quickly, one more prayer ain't gonna kill me.

We pray for the continued wellbeing of Carquest.

Oh yeah. God bless the mufflers.

THEN...the head honcho says for everyone to line up and go through this door (he points to the back of this UN-AIR CONDITIONED building) and get some grub.

So everyone lines up at the door and starts walking outside.

Now...we had just pulled up to the picnic ten minutes earlier. I didn't recall any food outside, but I was in line with everyone else, so I followed the leader.

And I'm pushing Andy in his stroller.

We go outside and walk AROUND the building. It's about 94 degrees outside with 100 percent humidity. You walk outside and it's an instant heat wave.

I'm needing help with Andy's stroller, because we're stepping over chains, going off big curbs, etc. So I ask the guy in front of me to lift Andy's stroller for me.

He has a bad back, but his son can help.

His son's all of four years old. He tries to lift the stroller, but he's too weak.

Gawddammit.

So I'm holding up the line because of Andy's stroller.

Finally, some guy sees my embarrassment and helps me get Andy's stroller over the chain link fence and down the big curb.

I thank him and we walk in the front door of the place.

Now then...

Apparently, when the head honcho pointed at "the door" and said line up there...he was talking about another door...a door right next to the door leading outside.

Basically...100 people just walked around the building when they didn't need to. They needed to line up at the kitchen door.

These freaking redneck idiots.

So we eat fried chicken, baked beans, potato salad and a roll. Not bad for camp food.

After lunch, it's Bingo time!

I'm not a big fan of Bingo, but if it will give me an opportunity to not make small talk with idiots, by God...give me as many cards as I can have.

So we all play Bingo. And each game there's a prize.

A cordless screw driver.

A regular screw driver.

A wrench.

A monkey wrench.

A hammer.

An oil drip tray.

Wow. I wonder where they got all these wonderful prizes??

Bingo ends and then it's time for door prizes.

Now then ... I'll give Carquest credit ... these guys know how to keep a crowd interested ... they give away some great door prizes.

A man and ladies mountain bike.

DVD players.

Complete camping equipment.

Pressure washers.

Walmart gift certificates.

Barbecue grills.

They must have had 30 different door prizes for 100 people.

We didn't win a damned thing.

The only thing I was interested in was the pressure washer, which you hook up to your garden hose and you can clean the funk off your house.

Susie's best friend at work won that. So we get to borrow it as soon as they're done with it.

Yippee.

It's kinda comical ... as soon as the doorprizes are gone at these things, everyone hauls ass as quick as they can.

The head honcho is yelling in his bull horn, "We've got more prizes to give away and more Bingo to play!"

But the Bingo prizes are all Carquest tools and everyone knows it. Since all the GOOD prizes are gone and everyone's eaten...they haul booty out that door.

It's like the building's on fire or something.

One lady was a hoot...her name is Chris and she's a decent looking woman ... but kinda redneck slutty. Anyway ... Susie and her little clique are always talking about what a slut Chris is ... she dresses as suggestive as possible for these picnics and looks to pick up any guy that will pork her.

And yeah...she's married. Two kids. They stay home and aren't allowed at the picnics.

Anyway, saw her there. She smiled at me like five times. She wouldn't quit looking at me.

I think she wanted to meet me out back and slut me good.

I didn't do it.

Mainly because it was a family picnic, my family was there and I'm not a big fan of collecting various venereal diseases.

We finally got home at 6 p.m. and all three of us collapsed on the floor of the den until about 8:00, when I woke up, fixed fish filets and onion rings, ate, and then played Andy's new favorite game where I blow in his face and he tries to "eat" my breath.

It's kinda cute. He closes his eyes and nips at the air, trying to swallow my breath.

Except...after a fish and onion ring dinner ... he wasn't all that enthusiastic about sucking my breath.

Can't say I blame him.

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