December 16th, 2007

Spatch - Porter Square

poor suckers vs rotten lazy bastards

One of WC Fields' most famous short films is The Fatal Glass of Beer, an absolutely absurdist piss-take on the ol' melodrama genre, with sight gags and WC Fields-isms ("Once the city gets into a b-hoy's sy-hystem, he a-loses his a-hankarin' for the co-hountry") running rampant over the alleged story of a prodigal son's return to his poor Ma and Pa, impoverished up in the bitter, frozen Yukon. Fields spends the first part of the short playing the dulcimer with huge mittens on, singing a tearful ballad about a young man who leaves the country for the city, runs afoul of the evils of liquor, and in a drunken frenzy breaks the tambourine of a Salvation Army girl, who then lays him flat "with a kick she had learned before she'd been saved." The moral lesson taught by this song, in case you missed it, is to not "go round breaking other people's tambourines."

The running gag of the short has become a famous WC Fields catchphrase: at various times Fields gets up, opens the cabin door to a howling gale, and makes the observation "And it ain't a fit night out for man nor beast." Then he gets socked in the face with a handful of fake snow. Like many running jokes that make no sense, it just keeps getting funnier each time it happens and you can't really explain why.

Perhaps it's because Fields is getting the cornflakes in the ol' puss and not us. Comedy is, after all, a relief response to someone else's suffering. So laugh all you want, Left Coasters, at the plight of us Bostonians, for as sure as we're getting sleet in the snoot now, you'll be treading water the next time the San Andreas Fault decides to roll over in bed and oh how we shall roll as well with mirth and schadenfreude.

The weather outside is absolutely horrid. The powdery snow of early this morning has given way to icy slush, bitter winds, and all around nastiness. There is a small cluster of us in the office on Sunday; we're the poor suckers who actually decided to brave the weather and come in for our regularly scheduled shift, thus getting the brunt of the work which was supposed to be done today by the rotten lazy bastards who have instead decided to call in. And everybody is calling in. The phonemonkeys called in. The one supervisor on duty called in. Even most of the people who take the calls from the people calling in have called in, and that means the one poor sucker who actually came in to take the call-ins today has been on the phone non-stop.

That's the problem with storm days. Either you're the poor sucker who takes the hit or you're the rotten lazy bastard who calls in.

On the one hand, being a poor sucker shows that you're a good sport and a right good fellow and it puts up a good argument for a solid scheduling favor that you may require in the future.

On the other hand, you sure do feel like a schmuck for actually sticking to one's principles and some semblance of a work ethic yet in return receive nothing immediate for your deep and abiding concern but damp socks, an all-over ice cream headache and a larger-than-usual-for-a-Sunday workload, while you know those rotten lazy bastards are snuggled back up tight and cozy in their beds, content in their decision of leisure and knowing full well to whom their work has been fobbed off, may they all throw their backs out shovelling.

And it ain't a fit night out for maaaan nor beast.