Just Shoot Me

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The Israelite foremen realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.” (Exodus 5:19)

Some days it doesn’t pay to get out of bed. From the moment your feet hit the floor you know you should just sling back some Jack Daniels, take a Valium, and call it a day. You can already smell what’s going to hit the fan; they’re hauling it in by the truckload. Trouble is, ain’t nobody else gonna spread the love. Unfortunately, you’re the chairman of the board, even if the board’s warped and full of rusty nails.

At times like this the last thing you want is some Pentecostal Pollyanna praising Jesus in your face. If some cheerful clueless cheerleader starts spouting the “If life hands you a lemon” schtick you will hurl a brick without a second thought. When you’re making bricks, perky people are a pain in the posterior.

And it doesn’t help reciting bumper stickers to yourself like “all things work for good” or “count it all joy” either. All that may be true, but when you’re making bricks you don’t give a squat about the big freaking picture. Yes, yes, yes—you’re learning perseverance. Yes, yes, yes—you’re building character. Yes, yes, yes—your faith is being refined like gold. But seriously, folks, when you’re knee deep in mud, short on straw, and have some bitchy whip-snapper over your head, you are so not going to be whistling while you work. And if the happy guy next to you does pucker up, you’re going to kill him plain and simple.

Personally, I think perky people should be allowed out only during nuclear catastrophes. We could make them wear old Girl Scout uniforms, carry empty cookie boxes, and wander the toxic ruins singing Kum Ba Ya.  Or we could force them to mud wrestle to exhaustion on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Or we could make them listen to Alvin and the Chipmunks for hours at a time. We could feed them straw until we break them down into shuddering sods of sobbing sorrow.

Brick making does have a few rewards, however. There’s a refreshing absence of pipe dreams for one thing. Bricks tend to reduce delusions of grandeur to occasional bubbles of gas. Bricks can also function as surrogate voodoo dolls. With very little imagination you can be slapping, punching, and cooking your enemies with futile but grim satisfaction. But maybe the best thing about brick making is that you can take comfort in the fact that it couldn’t get much worse.

That is until they up your quota again.

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