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February 4, 2009 / Brittany Hendrick

The Man in the Black Coat, Pt. II: FFS, when will this operation be aborted?

There is a reason why I’ve been thinking about The Man in the Black Coat.  It’s because he’s had a pretty good past couple of weeks.  I’ve about had it with his hijinx.

But first, a little more about The Man in the Black Coat.  He follows my mom, brother and sister everywhere, too.  For some reason he’s left my dad alone (dad’s orders, probably).  He’s caused a lot of strange, suspicious incidents in our lives– all of which happen beyond our control, always when we’re doing the right thing as human beings.  The Man in the Black Coat is a jealous bastard.

The Man in the Black Coat particularly enjoys denying me closure with practically everything.  I am left hanging on so many things, the list is as long as I am tall.  Sure, he slyly smiles around the corner, while I squirm and scratch my head.  It is his meanest tactic.

Hmmmm, let me think back over recent weeks.  The Man in the Black Coat gave me a scare when my laptop’s AC adapter cord sparked and shorted out… along with the computer.  Oh, sure, when I need my laptop most, and when I can’t afford to buy a new one.  The laptop wouldn’t power up even after waiting some minutes.  All I could do was sigh.

I applied for three jobs I am qualified for.  Two weeks later, I know NOTHING on the status on two of those jobs.  The first job was to be a writer-editor for the FAA.  I wasn’t too excited at the prospect of learning all about aviation, airplanes, air traffic and airports (yet, strangely, not about aviaries).  But it paid well, and I’d be doing what I should be doing for a job.

All this shit is done online now, these days.  I had to fill out my CV, questionnaire and this Knowledge, Skills, Abilities bullshit.  Seriously, this took five hours to do, total.  During the process, I learned that I qualified for an “Outstanding Scholar Appointment” based on my college GPA.  Cool, this means I’d at least get an interview, right!

Wrong.

After the job opening closed, I checked my status: “A list of the most qualified applicants has been sent to the office… Your application was not included at this time.”

WHAT?!  The job was open to status candidates, too, to the FAA probably had someone in mind already but posted the job, simply, to be lawful.

That’s OK, Man in the Black Coat.  I found one I’d like better: Senior Copywriter for Columbia Sportswear’s new-forming e-commerce division, based in Portland, Oregon.  This one makes total sense.  Previous to music industry I worked in the sporting goods industry for five years.  I know a lot about Columbia/Mountain Hardwear products; I can talk about them, sell them, merchandise them, use them.  One of the best clothing items I own is a Mountain Hardwear fleece with Gore-Tex Windstopper.  And Portland is my kind of city.  I’ve never been there, but a couple of my friends have lived there.  I hear so many good things about that place.

I know I nailed this.  I fulfilled the education requirements exactly– English degree in creative writing.  How many places specify the creative writing part?!  I even pointed out an error in the job listing– that would be part of my job anyway, right?  To make sure grammar and spelling are correct.  Was that a test?  Did I pass?  I don’t know.  The next day, the job listing was gone from Columbia’s website.  Uh-oh.  My application status STILL has nothing indicated– literally blank in that space.  There are a couple other e-commerce positions open, so… maybe they’re gathering applications for all e-commerce departments before they start interviewing people?  Maybe they don’t want to mess with relocation?  So… strange!

The third job, I won’t get into detail, but my “status of vacancy” on that one is “no selection made.” Sounds like that job is a little slow on the HR front.  It’s been over a week… so weird!

Obviously, I haven’t fared well with jobhunting.  That’s OK, Man in the Black Coat.  Maybe my book proposal will be chosen for publication.  It would be optimal for me not to have a job so I could concentrate on bookwriting only.

On a particular day, the editor would let everyone know whether his proposal was shortlisted or not.  Later that same night, the shortlist would be posted.  I was impatient and crabby that day, and getting even moreso as 7:00 pm rolled around and I still hadn’t received word.

It was bad enough that when I submitted my proposal, the editor did not acknowledge its receipt (he sent everyone confirmation emails), which made me think he didn’t get it at all.  Or maybe I was a “Hellllll, no”; or maybe he had something personal against the band I chose (I think the guy used to work for Mojo magazine); or maybe he was so happy to see a proposal for the band, finally, that he jumped out of his seat and forgot to send me a confirmation email.  I don’t know what happened.  But we sorted it out, after I raised my hand– he did receive it.

Okay, but did he even read it?  Did he throw it away?  Because I never got the rejection email.  I found out in the most unceremonious way– when the shortlist was posted and my album wasn’t on there.  I was fuming.  Not because I didn’t make the cut– that doesn’t bother me in the least.  I was incensed because, yet again, I was not notified as I should have been.  What is going on???  I put an email to the editor.  I’d have to wait it out until the next day.

Later that night, I had a run-in with Levin.  He’d been chewing on his dewclaw until it bled, so I semi-successfully wrapped his leg in a bandage for a few days so it could heal.  Levin was messing with the bandage, as he did, usually without incident.  But this time, it required me to adjust it.

Levin is very big, but he knows I’m the boss.  He and I established that a long time ago.  I can take away his food dish while he’s eating.  I can pry open his mouth and stick in my hand if I need to get something from him.  I can take away his toys.  I can smack him in the face (not hard; just a reminder-to-behave swat) and he doesn’t retaliate.  I am not afraid of Levin.

I approached Levin’s leg and he did the unfathomable.  He growled at me.  I know his different barks and what they mean.  I also know his different growls and what they mean.  He gave me the rare-uttered gutteral growl.  Levin hadn’t done that to me since he was a puppy– and I made sure he wouldn’t do it again.  And he hadn’t.

But this situation was worse– and more dangerous– and new for me.  Levin was immobile, crouched in a position to pounce, head low, tail almost between his legs.  I had NEVER seen him like this.  I could tell by the nasty look in his eyes– he meant business.  He was going to bite me.
Of course, I could not let Levin get away with this behavior.  I couldn’t go near him, but I couldn’t act scared either– he’d know.  I had to act quickly, so I grabbed a wooden spoon (kind of funny– like an old lady) and tried whacking him in the face.  He went after the spoon.  He never actually bit it, but he gave it a vicious warning.  I finally got Levin on the butt, but not very well because he has so much dreadlocks– he doesn’t feel anything.  All I could do was stand over him, and stare.

This did me in.  I couldn’t believe… after everything The Man in the Black Coat had done to me that week, that my dog would turn on me and want to bite me.  This actually hurt my feelings.  I felt so defeated with everything, and disappointed in Levin, I started crying.  Not uncontrollable sobbing… more like…  uncontrollable tear-streaming.  By now, Levin was seated, looking up at me.  He knew he acted badly– he always knows when he does wrong.  And, as he does when he’s sorry for other, annoying behaviors, he gently raised paw to my leg (the leg he didn’t want me touching– go figure).  I collapsed into him, and all was forgiven.

The Man in the Black Coat hasn’t created any new problems for me since then (he’s moved on to my sister, this week).  But I think it’s time his operation is called off.  He’s bothered and tortured us enough.

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