>The Underpants Gnomes of the Patio Furniture Industry

>When people ask me what I do for a living, I have a difficult time explaining. The job description changes as time goes on. For the past month, I have been working a grueling 4a.m. to 1p.m. (or later) shift at various Home Depot locations across the St. Louis metropolitan area. The bulk of the time is spent assembling patio furniture. You may wonder how those displays magically come about, like the wonderful Christmas decor displays I worked on. I like to think of it like the Underpants Gnomes from South Park. For those unfamiliar with the episode, it features gnomes that come about in the night and take Tweek’s underpants. It is symbolism for those things that happen that go without explanation. Those underpants that go missing were actually taken by gnomes, and that patio furniture that suddenly shows up at your local retailers was assembled by a small group of misfits that work through a delusion caused by lack of sleep.

In fact, the lack of sleep is such an issue, that Home Depot security is cracking down on “gnomes” falling asleep on assembled furniture. We recently received a memo warning us of this. I took it as a hint to move on to a darker blend of coffee.

Anyway, the group of misfits I work with include members of a division of the Filipino Mafia. Most think Italian when they hear “mafia”, but I think the Filipinos have the upper hand now, especially when it comes to the retail servicing industry. Our boss, who actually comes from a long line of Italian mafiosos straight from St. Louis’s Hill Neighborhood, has become quite softened under the foothold of the Pinoys. He gives them many gifts, which they treat like dirt. When I see this, I grow angry. On occassion, I have taunted one of the boys for this disrespect. I even gave him a good swat to the face. No one should treat their boss like that.

The boss does not look good in this whole matter. For example, since I revealed the story of how I was molested by a nun, I have caught him staring off and even in close to a fetal position once. When I confronted him about this odd behavior, he grabbed my hand and touched it to his scalp.

“What do you feel?,” he asked me.

I was thinking a nasty case of dry scalp, but I told him, “a nice sized lump.”

He confirmed the obvious and proceeded to tell me that since I told my story, he has been haunted by flashbacks of when a nun at his grade school slapped him of the head with the narrow edge of a ruler.

I told him maybe he could still sue the church based of repressed memories. At least we had that bonding moment, when we realized the evil in nuns. With that satisfaction, we moved on to assembling a chaise lounge display.

So whenever you see any display in a Home Depot or elsewhere, think of us, the “gnomes”, and think of the nuns, those goddamned nuns.