BITS & PIECES OF A MISPLACED LIFE: PROFESSIONS #3

AIRLINE WORKERS

"Remember they are dealing with angry, disgruntled,
miserable people. And then they leave home for work.
Not only is your safety and well-being in their hands,
but more important, so is your expensive designer 
luggage."
            Joan Rivers
**

Melissa Rivers. The Book of Joan (NY: Crown Archetype,
2015)

EPIDEMIOLOGIST

“Of all the arts, singing is perhaps the most ominous to an epidemiologist. In that imaginary diagram of aerosolization, a comic would be expelling dribble, but a fine full-out singer would be a toxic fountain, misting the virus deep into the tenth row. (One of the first documented superspreading events in this country involved a choir rehearsal.) Singers wondered for a desolate year if they would return to work.”

Adam Gopnik. “Sitting With Strangers” In The New Yorker (June 14, 2021)

DRAMATIC CRITIC

"If I wished to complain, which I don't, I might say
that a dramatic critic, or even a composite of several
dramatic critics, is hardly a suitable romantic lead
for any play, and also that the trade secrets of this
glum profession are apt to seem either dull or
incomprehensible to the average audience."

Wolcott Gibbs, reviewing Arsenic and Old Lace
for The New Yorker (January 18, 1941)

**

PROFESSIONAL GAMBLER

“I could outsmart, outcheat, out-connive, and roll higher than ’em all in my day,” he said. “And that’s no lie.” “The son of a wandering gambler he never met, Titanic Thompson took gamblers’ money any way they wanted it taken. One story is he threw a lemon onto a high roof to win $500 from Al Capone. Another insisted he sat at a dice table with Howard Hughes and walked away $10,000 ahead. Testimony under oath had him playing poker all night with the thief who fixed the World Series, and when the thief was shot dead, the prosecuting attorney, who smelled a rat, asked Thompson what he did for a living. There in the witness-box with diamonds on his finger, handsome as daybreak and resplendent in a fine suit with a silk tie, the hustler who had put his hand on a Bible and promised to tell nothing but the truth, testified: “I play a little golf for money.” Thompson married five women and killed five men, not because he heard money talking, but because he could do it and because, he said, sunshine in his smile: “They needed it.”

DAVE KINDRED. “Myths of The Titanic” in GOLF DIGEST (June 19, 2020)

+**

**

PRISON WARDEN

“ ’Tread softly and carry a big stick.’ was my
first lesson in penology, on my arrival at Clinton
Prison on March 1st, 1905, it was followed literally.
When I reported for duty that night, I was handed
a pair of sneakers and a club. The sneakers, to enable 
the guard to make his rounds noiselessly, so as not 
to disturb the sleeping forms within the dark cells, 
and the club to be used in emergencies should any of
 those forms become unduly active. I had rather a 
hard time of it on that first tour of duty.”

Lewis E. Lawes. Twenty Thousand Years in Sing Sing.
(1932)/ (the book was made into a 1932 movie
starring Spencer Tracy)

**
GRAVEDIGGER

  “Graves are customarily made with their length running east and west, so that the corpse lies with his feet to the east and his head to the west. It used to be supposed that the summons to the Last Judgement would come from the east, and that it would be better for the dead man if he could rise on the resurrection morning with his face towards the dawn. An old Welsh name for the east wind is ‘the wind of the dead men’s\feet.’ To dig a grave north and south was extremely unlucky, and indicated either a lack of respect or definite malice towards the man who would lie in it…”

Christina Hole. Encyclopedia of Superstition (1961)


SAILOR

Question: Where did the term gob referring to sailors come from?

Answer: There are two theories on this one. This term first showed up in regard to sailors around 1909 and may have come from the word gobble. Reportedly, some people thought that sailors gobbled their food. The term also may come from the word gob, which means to spit, something sailors also reportedly do often. English coastguardsmen were referred to as gobbies because of their spitting habits.

**
GRAVEDIGGER

  “Graves are customarily made with their length running east and west, so that the corpse lies with his feet to the east and his head to the west. It used to be
 supposed that the summons to the Last Judgement would come from the east, and that it would be better for the dead man if he could rise on the resurrection morning with his face towards the dawn. An old Welsh name for the east wind is ‘the wind of the dead men’s
 feet.’ To dig a grave north and south was extremely unlucky, and indicated either a lack of respect or definite malice towards the man who would lie in it…”

Christina Hole. Encyclopedia of Superstition (1961)

*
WHY I AM NOT A WORLD FAMOUS POET

When it comes to writing poetry,
I am out of my element:
Helium.


Louis Phillips
**

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