from Cousin Harold’s Adventures In The Real World… ‘Cousin Harold, Security Guard’

“Of course I like to help people – from my desk, with pop and chips. It’s the thought that counts.”

Cousin Harold







So stated a laboring Cousin Harold as he struggled against the imprecations of one Mrs. Grumpypants who was shoveling inspiration as quickly as she could on why Cousin Harold ought to apply for a job, somewhere.
Cousin Harold had been having a bad time considering the dozens of jobs for which he ought to apply and it had tired him out daily. By the time he came to actually having to do something about it he found himself caught in the philosophical dilemma of ‘to do, or to be.’

This became boring after a few seconds so he fell asleep on the couch with the newspaper folded over him.
Which was usually how Mrs. Grumpypants found him after returning home from work.

“Harold! Wake up! If you think I’m going to fix dinner after working all day while you lie there like some sunbathing hobo sea lion, forget it!” (Cousin Harold had tended to put on some weight due to his restrictions of looking for work while basking on the couch.)
Cousin Harold woke with a silent curse.

After a brief time when he was so startled, woke cursing and yelling back, only to find Mrs. Grumpypants was then in her element where she never tired of attempting to cure him of his mistaken apprehensions about her words and his idle search, he’d decided he knew what was best: be quiet.

At first he had simply started walking around hunched over and shouting, ‘Bawk! bawk! bawk!’ every time Mrs. Grumpypants started her daily after-work inspiration lessons, but as that only infuriated her, he’d simply found that pretending he was some stuffed exhibit allowed her to feel she was making progress. The more progress, the less talk.

What Mrs. Grumpypants did not know was that every single morning after she’d left for work, Cousin Harold struggled into his clothes and made his way to the local café, where he purchased breakfast and forced his way through the want-ads.

Full, tired from a strenuous intellectual perusal of ads-for-gomers, and thus slightly disheartened, Cousin Harold then made his way to the couch that just happened to be positioned to catch the afternoon sun.

Normally he would have to do the crossword puzzle in order to lift himself from the stupor of staring at employment ads, and quite often in these times he would find himself calling his poet friend. Dr. Dean.

Dr. Dean was not a real doctor, philosophical or otherwise, but he liked to use the term so that when appropriate- which it never was – and he was asked about the title, he’d merely crow, ‘Dr. Dean – at your cervix!’ frightening away the women he hallucinated might fall into his net through sheer admiration of his cleverness.

“Hey, Cousin Harold – what’re you not doing?”
“Well I went to the café, had breakfast and by that time it was close to noon, so I had lunch, did the crossword a little bit, which made me tired so I came back here, and I’m looking for work.”
“Any luck there?”
“Not yet. You-know-who is bound to be home soon and I was hoping I could find a job by then, or at least some likely looking prospects to point out to her so she’d leave me alone for another few days.”
“Fuck a duck. What about dinner? You make it, or her?”
“I usually stuff my face at the café and then when she asks about dinner, I tell her I’m struggling with my diet and I would appreciate it if she’d not throw temptation in my face.”
“What’re you going to do about a job? She’ll leave, or throw you out.”
“Dr. Dean, I’ve been doing everything I can. Anyway it’s quarter to 3, I’ve got another two hours before she gets back home, so I’m going to take a nap.”
“Rest them barnacles, Cousin Harold, never know when you might have to do something.”

Only a few days later I heard whispers that Cousin Harold had truly been looking for work – a second job for Mrs. Grumpypants.
‘Well, she never does anything except bitch and gobble a bundle of scraps, and then fall asleep before she has to get up and leave again in the morning, and we need the money.’

When Mrs. Grumpypants discovered his true meaning, she let fly. Cousin Harold found himself waddling to the café without money, and his game controllers busted when he got back to the house.

“Dr. Dean! Help, I need work.”
“Cousin Harold, you don’t need work. You need a job. Remember the difference –  I’ve learned from many an academic.”
“What do you think?”
“I was looking through the want ads myself, for entertainment you know. I saw…”
“Hey, what about a job like you had one time? At Hell-Tech?”
“True.. why don’t you try for work at some department store as a night-time security guard? Be perfect. Walk around every hour or so. Hear a break-in, run to the other end of the store and call the cops. No intruders, you can doze on a new couch or three.”

Next thing I knew I got phone call about 2 a.m. that evening.

Cousin Harold was on the job. Woe to the world of commerce.

©Dean Baker

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