My uncle told me to pad my resumé with dead businesses. “They can’t call ’em,” he said.
That’s not necessary, I told him. I got a job with a corporate spy agency. I got benefits. I got paid meals and travel. I get mileage. I get paid double what I was working before without overhead. They want ‘me for me,’ I said. I have an education. I’ve been published.
On the phone with my interviewer, Jeff handled a few final formalities.
“Okay, just some quick questions I have to ask.”
I told him to go ahead.
“You have a car?”
“You have a high school education, GED or equivalent?”
…Yes, again. I thought my degrees were listed on my CV. Nobody gives a fuck about you. That’s actually a good thing.
“You can pass a drug test?”
I was stoned when I said yes, of course. This is what employers want you to say. Now is not the time to argue individual liberty, not when Daddy is hanging a salary over your head and the promise of a means to reach your bullshit dreams.
I stayed awake that night drinking water and playing Counterstrike with Jihad. He carried our team through every match as I made trips to the bathroom, pissing clear, clean rain. By the time I took my drug test, I was nauseous and my urine looked like tap water as I handed it over for corporate approval and testing. The test proctor’s name is Roy. He was very fat, so I thought he might know where that sweet barbecue smell was coming from as I walked in through the rain.
“Oh, that’s Biscuithead’s!” he exclaimed. “You probably smelled their bacon.”
It was a sweet smell, I said. It was like nothing I’d ever smelled. I had to try it.
“Well, you know they don’t just do regular bacon, egg and cheese biscuits,” he explained. “They’ll give you a biscuit, sure, but they might put the eggs on top of it, and then the bacon or sausage and they’ll pour their signature gravy all over it.”
He called it ‘signature gravy.’ I said OK. I spaced out as he finished, and felt sick staring at blood samples sitting out on his desk. I knew it belonged to the sick-looking man who came in before me, and left with a cough. It had begun to separate into two colors, yellow and crimson.
“They got a jelly bar, too. Eight different kinds a-jelly. Anything you can think of.”
So I finished my piss-cup paperwork and, feeling really nasty, but in desperate need of replacement salts which gallons of water continued to wash out of my bloodstream.
I asked the cashier at Biscuithead’s about what Roy had described.
“He said you put a biscuit at the bottom, bacon and eggs on top of that, and you pour gravy all over it.”
The cashier made a disgusted face, as if the notion had never occurred to him. He looked healthy.
“Yeah, you can do that if you want. The biscuits come with a side of house gravy,” he said. “You could rearrange our biscuits however you like and use the gravy that way if you wanted to.”
So I bought my biscuit. I pissed in their bathroom sink while waiting for my food. I meant no harm by it, but staying awake all night drinking water so that some bureaucrat ape will say you didn’t smoke pot has a way of shifting a person’s values. I washed my hands, still thinking about Roy’s grid, filled with vials of diseased blood.
I ate my biscuit in the hospital garage, listening to Comedy Bang Bang, texting out as many drug test jokes as I could think of. I didn’t so much as drive up to the drug test as I blew in with the fog.
It was the bacon I smelled. I tasted it, remembering the wet air as I approached my drug test, full of water. THC metabolites desperately trying to infiltrate my piss and keep me from having a job. A future. Anxious to be running out. The bacon tasted good. It tasted like the misty mountain air surrounding Asheville, which people mistake for sweet clarity when in fact it is heavily polluted by what might otherwise be considered trade winds pulling in pollution from surprising places. A Carolina Wonderland, the percentage of people suffering from mysterious lung disease continues to rise, and the pulmonologists are turning people away.
I don’t know if I passed, yet, but I quit my old job anyway. I immediately feel like shit, but deep down I know I’m happy. It has to be this way. The bacon was sweet.