Thursday, January 31, 2008

employer spotlight

This first ever (and possibly last ever) edition of Employer Spotlight is designed to give praise to an employer within the fair mother city that goes above and beyond the call of the employer.

I’ve long been a critic of the fair mother city and her below-average wages. And for those of you keeping score, you are well aware that my conspiracy theories for this bad pay and lack of benefits are: christians/church-goers own the local businesses. And more than often, christians, wealthy or not, are cheap-asses (ask any local wait-person what the worst shift to wait tables is: Sunday lunch - church crowd).

So when I run across a rare encounter of what I’d consider a true Christ-like business owner, praise is due.

Recently, I completed a temporary job with a local storage company owned by a follower of Jesus. Several other temporary employees and myself signed on for $7.50 an hour. That’s a common wage here in the fair mother city. And it was fair for the work we were expected to do. I knew what I was getting in to, so no complaints here.

Within a week our pay jumped to $8.50 an hour. I don’t know why. Maybe we were doing good work. An unannounced raise after one week is shocking to me after working for Son and Dad for nearly a year with no change in pay.

Then about halfway through this temp job, our boss (who often labored with us, another rarity) casually announced that at the rate we were going, we’d finish this job way ahead of schedule. And if that happens, he’d pay us a bonus.

That’s right. He charged the client an overestimated amount for our labor. And if we finished early, he was going to pay us the money that we would have earned had we worked the time length he estimated.

Here on the agent b files, it’s all too easy to report on injustice and nonsense witnessed throughout the christian community in the fair mother city. It’s nice to spotlight the positive for once.

And that, dear reader, is why Storage R Us receives the agent b files Employer Spotlight. Thank you CEO for giving me this work.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

evang-e-droppings #011

After a brief hiatus, Agent Offspring #1 joined forces with me today on the Evang-e-Droppings Eradication Operation. He not only helped, but did what every 3-year old does best: chatter non-stop and explain away his philosophy on everything. I am so proud of him.

I even had the opportunity to teach him some real manly, practical, father/son stuff. Like, how to pee in an alley behind a dumpster. Until now, AO1 only knew how to go in a toilet. Now he knows that it's ok to pee at any outdoor place where people aren't present. Especially cops. He handled the pressure of his new, outdoor industrial environment quite well. I am doubly proud of him.

We netted a below average number of tracts: 28. The numbers have seemed to be lower since I left for Canada. I wonder if colder weather has anything to do with attendance of either club patrons or the local tract crew.

I stumbled across this website last week. I had a feeling that the majority of these tracts were not home-grown, but instead were purchased in bulk online somewhere.

Oh well. Now I know how much money was spent on these things I pick off the ground.

Friday, January 25, 2008

uncle pete

One too many times, I have stated that Pete Townsend’s (ie: The Who’s) lyrics and music are far more prophetic and reflective of the least-of-these than anything wanked out of the christian music culture.

Recently over at the shelter coordinator’s blog, he shared about speaking at a chapel service of a private school where he quoted Jesus and Uncle Pete.

I was curious as to which Uncle Pete work was cited. He replied it was “Who Are You?” (aka the theme to CSI Boise, for you young-uns).

The shelter coordinator states that the lyrics "I woke up in a Soho doorway / A policeman knew my name / He said you can go sleep at home tonight / If you can get up an walk away" were a baring of Uncle Pete’s soul as he had hit rock bottom (in real life).

He states that by asking the question ‘who are you?’ Uncle Pete was saying, “...'this is who I really am, so who the f#$k are you?’ The point being that we have no way of knowing who we are until all the things that aren't who we are get stripped away.”

And according to my fellow shelter coordinating agent, Uncle Pete was screaming “who are you?” at God, not at the policeman as assumed by Daltry’s singing. That was news to me and puts the whole song in a different perspective.

Almost a Job-like ranting to God.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


For the better part of five years, I have been fairly invisible in the fair mother city. This is fine. I like this. A lot.

Some things, like my re-emerging music act makes me quite visible. And after the last five years, this is new. So, I’m not totally unnoticed these days.

I think what I like about being on the invisible side is meeting other invisible folks.

Currently, I am working a temp job that has me moving heavy stuff at a local hospital and storing it across town. I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the hospital with Obi-Wan last year. But back then I was a visitor of a patient. Now I am kin to a low-level employee. I never noticed the hierarchy culture that exists with hospital employees.

I mean, being a grungy, scraggly grunt with a two-wheeler dolly doesn’t bother me. It’s great undercover practice.

You can instantly tell who the important people are: various doctors, name-badged managers of various departments and such. They never look you in the eye when passing.

But the $5.50 an hour* Mexican ladies that clean rooms – they always flag me down, ask how the day is going, and direct me to the lesser-known break room where the good coffee is brewed.

And then there was the maintenance guy. He came over - name patch, plumbers crack, whole nine yards – and talked to me about the service elevator I was operating. He was surprised it still worked. We talked mechanics for about a minute.

The lower caste groups of the hospital employee system: they’re like a confederation or something. And funny thing is that I’m working for an outside company, not the hospital.

Finally, there was the couple I was in music school with fifteen years ago. They walked right by as I nervously waited for eye contact while figuring out what my response would be to the inevitable “what are you doing here?” as I hand-trucked heavy items down wide hallways. Maybe their peripheral vision told them I was in the lower caste society. Maybe they were very preoccupied as they WERE in a hospital, like maybe a family member was ill.

I like being invisible. There’s no masks to keep up with.

*Not an exaggeration. This is the actual pay, according to a hospital employee a year ago

**I would love to leave credit to the photo, but I can't figure out who made it...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

agent sampler

Reports of late have been sparse if not fairly shallow. That reflects both the little time I have and the few events to report on. So it goes.

As mentioned earlier, I have been working a fair amount on a temp job which works in and around any schedule with Son & Dad. This may last another week or so.


The Evang-e-Droppings Eradication Operation continues as need be. And today the need was fairly high: 40 tracts were collected off the wind-blown streets. I think I am getting more and more efficient at this as my solo efforts have only taken me 45 minutes (as opposed to one hour) to secure the area of guilt messages of hell.

The longer I am on this operation, the more I am tempted, or perhaps shoved, into the direction of a new potential agent series: Evangelists and assholes: is there a difference? But the more long pauses and fresh breaths I grab, the more I figure that this possible series would not be an act of love. But I do feel that slippery slope a-calling. Local tract crew: don’t test me.


Obi-Wan: he is doing well. His eyesight is better than ever and so is his cooking. We had fried catfish nuggets the other night.

He seems to be fairly lonely these days. Which doesn’t help that Agent Wife and I are working all the time, but we get to see him for a few minutes here and there when his prescription eye-drops are administered.


By my accounts, we had a real kick-ass birthday party here this weekend. A few neighbors, friends across the local agent network, and friends both old and new joined me in my wacky selection of high-end beer. McEwan’s has earned the coveted Agent B nod of approval. Hey, at 8% alcohol, it could taste like dirt and still earn somewhat of a nod.

Other highlights include: my old college buddy, roommate, and co-founder of my original 1993 jazz combo The Molecular Ensemble came with his family. He brought his juggling toys and guitar. Plus, another friend of mine brought some percussion gizmo, so we had a spontaneous molecular circus trio going with music and juggling. That’s my kind of party.

Sorry if you missed it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

testimony #038

Or: hit the ground running Pt. II...

We have literally been going nonstop since we landed in the fair mother city over a week ago. And that's not a bad thing.

Agent Wife began a new job of watching two little boys for three days a week. They are the same age as our kids, so for three days it's lord of the flies around here. But that's not all bad.

This is amazing because it's the most solid, guaranteed income our household has had in over three years. And it's not all that much, but it's steady. I forgot what it's like to know that money will be there. It's culture shock.

And I recently started a temp job that works in and around my random schedule with Son & Dad Tree Service, Inc. So basically, I've been working full days this week.

And recently, we received a totally random financial gift through the mail. Thank you CEO.

I am still praying that "fruit" prayer. As in, please show us fruit for all the waiting we've endured for over three years.

And my heart and mind are still gearing up for a potential future venture involving my daily work schedule, coupled with relieving injustice whenever possible. We'll see.

Again, thank you CEO.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

operation blow his cover

Agent wife here with a special notice for all secret and not so secret agents out there.

It's Agent B's birthday today.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

evang-e-droppings #010

Man, all I can say is: it really was great to get back on the Evang-e-Droppings Eradication Operation this morning. It’s been about four weeks due to our recent trip and all.

There is something about hanging out on the streets of the seldom-traveled, aging warehouse district of the fair mother city that makes me feel alive. Other than an occasional car passing by or homeless person (none today, though) traveling between the downtown churches and the Salvation Army, it’s a very peaceful and solitary moment of my week. I need that.

I was almost convinced that my cover had been blown today. Or maybe a reputation had somehow proceeded me. But I quickly learned I had misheard a gentleman’s first inquiry. He was obviously an owner or employee of a nearby sandwich shop.

He yelled at me and asked, “Are you the guy who picks up the beer bottles?” I remained silent for a second while trying to figure out how to answer. So I acted like I couldn’t understand him. Have the locals figured out I’m Agent B, the one who undermines the local tract passing crew? Did he know who I was?

He responded again by pointing to the night club and asking, “Do you work for them picking up beer bottles?

“Oh. Yes. Yes I do”

“Good, because there’s always bottles in our flowerbeds and parking lot. There are some over there now.”

“Sorry about that. I’ll get right on it”. Whew. Close call. Got out of that one.

PS – The above “tract” was emailed to me by my old friend, stay-at-home mom. Finally, a tract I think I could see myself passing out. And by the way, ignore that printed web address unless you really want porn. Thanks D!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

your attention please: Jesus wasn't a christian

For years I have pondered what following Jesus meant, because somehow, just attending the Sunday morning social club didn’t seem to be it for me. The social club can have some good aspects on occasion, like being with people and so forth. But in the end, all the stuff we read and studied on Jesus in our club meetings didn’t seem to reflect the actual lives we were living. Or at least, my actual life.

Examples have been mentioned throughout the writings of the agent b files, as well as all over the web. Things like, if Jesus taught us to give our entire life, why do we only give a fraction (ie: money or tithe)? And why is that fraction given to a church or non-prof for them to decide how injustice can be alleviated with those pennies? Why are North American christians encouraged to give the fraction while maintaining a status quo life at home and throughout their community?

Many wealthy business people are on the influential boards of ministries and non-profs that benefit the poor. I always thought that was funny...that we look up to those who do well making money for our leadership. Maybe these boards should be made up of people who benefit or once benefited from that very non-prof. But that’s an entirely different subject.

The other day I thought: what would it be like if the influential business people who governed these non-profs left their board positions and channeled their benevolent, injustice-altering energies into other avenues? Like perhaps within their daily sphere of influence and expertise.

Abilene has one of the lowest pay rates for the average worker (fifth lowest in the state of Texas out of 20+ cities. The first four lowest are border towns). My conspiracy theories on Abilene’s pathetic wages are that church-going christians owned the majority of local businesses. And christians have a bad reputation of being cheap-asses. Ask any local wait-person what the worst shift to work is: Sunday lunch. The church crowd is notoriously lousy tippers with high demands.

So the other day, I thought: what if these local business owners who happened to be church goers started paying their workers better wages with actual benefits (like health coverage for fucking crying out loud). I think that would be better use of their christ-likeness as opposed to calling the shots at some agency to the poor, where they are comfortably insulated from the actual lives they try to serve.

Oh, but B. You don’t understand how small business works. Yeah, I understand how it works jackass. Pay yourself better than your employees. Live on the nice side of town, take time off for high-dollar vacations, buy your kids nice christmas toys, and buy your family health insurance while your workers make $8 an hour with no benefits. Very christ-like.

Take note, I am not accusing business owners in order to judge and point fingers. I am, in fact, asking myself these questions these days.

Yes, I, Agent B, have been pondering a business venture of sorts for two years. And I think I may try to go for it soon.

So, would I have the right to earn and live far better than those who work for and along side me? I don’t know.

Jesus taught that we had no rights. Maybe that’s why he got killed.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

pruning boy #013

Episode XIII: Return to the Migrant Worker Seat

My least triumphant part of returning to the fair mother city was my first day back with Son & Dad Tree Service, Inc.

I have to give my part-time employers a better angle here on the b files. Readers of this particular series might have been misled that this is a miserable, go nowhere job. That is hardly the truth. I do have great respect for my boss and this valuable employment.

1) My employer is an all around decent guy to work for. He doesn’t belittle or beat those who work for him. 2) This job is flexible. I mean hey, I just returned from a 3 and a half week visit to Canada...and I’m still employed. 3) Everyday is a new adventure. No routine borax. Even if it becomes a mundane leaf raking job like today.

OK. That’s about it.

Honestly, my boss is a constant source of my internal laughter. Like the time I slammed the truck door on his fingers. I was horrified that this happened and apologized profusely. But by his admission, it was his own fault. Then today he slammed his fingers in his cell phone. I swear, he yelped.

Or how about all the stupid jokes he makes. They are so bad that I have long given up courtesy laughs after I realized my value to him and that my employment would never be jeopardized by my silent responses or my occasional "that was stupid". He is a big endorser of what I call "literalist humor". You know. He'll ask me my schedule and I'll say that I'm free next week. "Oh good. You're free. I'll save a lot of money". Or every time we pass a "for sale by owner" sign he responds, "What? You mean it's not for sale by NEIGHBOR?"


Or the multiple times he trips and falls. And because of his bad leg, he’ll just sit on the ground until I turned the chainsaw off and notice so he can ask me for help. Once I looked over while sawing and he was just sitting in the middle of the street.

I still cry thinking about that one.

He’s the clumsiest guy ever. And he makes his living with chainsaws.

Oh, it’s great to be back to my lowly hourly wage job while I ponder injustice and my place in the world amongst a confederacy of dunces.

Monday, January 07, 2008

hit the ground running

We arrived in the fair mother city last night after a 17-hour day of airport fun. I hope I don’t have to do that again for a long time. One of our bags arrived a day late. And when we received it today, it came with a bonus utility knife that neither my wife not I had packed. Cool gift, homeland security inspectors. Thanks!

It’s been great to greet and be greeted by our assortment of neighbors and friends on the block. I am thankful to the CEO for our home.


My kids came home to some sloppily wrapped presents from our young neighbors Jenny and Sebastian: a toy dog and little car. When they give people presents, it’s usually something that’s been played with and belongs to them. Which is kind of sweet because they don’t have much and I assume their gift is some sort of sacrifice.

I think Jenny & Sebastian’s mom has to get help from charities at Christmas to buy her kid’s gifts.

CEO – thanks for J & S’s generosity.


Former frequent b files commenter and agent network member “Agent X” visited the fair mother city today from Lubbock. We got to sit in the jedi counsel room and shoot the bull over cigars. All the best to you, X. We miss you.


Frieda Sanford spent the holidays taking in Miguel (the son of Gloria the drunk driver) and his girlfriend. But she called the law and kicked them out because of their fighting. She’s always taking in the hopeless, even if they’re lousy house guests.


Agent Wife, the offsprings, and I had fried pork steaks at Obi-Wan’s tonight. What a welcome-back meal.

Tomorrow morning Obi-Wan goes in for cataract surgery. This is the outcome of his eyeglasses ordeal from last summer. I met his doctor and staff when he went in for this checkup a month ago. They seem genuinely interested in Obi-Wan's well being, as opposed to his presence just being another country club dues payment. Hopefully, all will go well.

Photo credit here.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

we come to another end

The canada trip is finally wrapping up. It's been nearly a month since we've been in the fair mother city. And I can't say I miss it.

But I am looking forward to seeing Obi-Wan, listening to The Sanford's family fights next door, Jenny & Sebastian and other neighborhood rug rats showing up at our door, stumbling through visits with Agent Wife's French-speaking African friends whom I'm staring to really appreciate, and hopefully attend a Valdez backyard BBQ or two.

I don't know what awaits me financially back home. But that hasn't kept me in a fetal position or anything for months, if not a really long time.

2007 wasn't a bad year at all. I can't complain. Thank you CEO. And although I haven't heard anything from headquarters as of yet, I've been sending rapid s-o-s messages of: fruit. Send fruit. I desire to see fruit for the waiting we've endured. Please.

I thank you all for reading this goof-ass agent report for the last two and a half years. I'd probably be writing it even if you weren't reading. It's therapeutic as I find it easier to write than to talk to the handful who'd actually listen. But, I take friendships seriously. So to those of you who bother to keep tabs on me and/or communicate, I salute you. Our weird internet friendship is invaluable to me.