Happy One Year, Tecumseh!

A year ago today, my cohorts in the Stores Temp team at work were officially hired.

And I thought I would tell a story in celebration.

The five of us (John, Jade, Lila, Matt, and me) began working as temps on November 1st with about twenty other people. We were the only ones who made it past the first week, most likely because we had un-terrible phone manners. Thus began three months of constant togetherness in which we bonded in some strange and amusing ways.

We worked in a variety of back rooms and forgotten corners (I’m not exaggerating, people kept asking what we did for the company and we’d say “Stores!” and they’d say, “But I thought they got rid of that…”) including one windowless room we called The Blanket Fort. I printed out a picture of a window and taped it to the cinderblock wall so we wouldn’t cry as we called businesses to pitch the new program to them.

We were tight, yo.

So embarrassing moments from the past were bound to surface. And Matt’s surfaced right around the winter holidays. It seems that Matt, who is tall, blond, blue-eyed, and muscular, had once been cast in an outdoor show about the frontier fights between the American Indian leader Tecumseh and United States (white) soldiers.

This show was called, and I am not making this up, “TECUMSEH!”

And Aryan Matt was cast as…wait for it…wait for it…an American Indian.

Which means there are pictures on his Facebook profile of him in a loincloth, long dark wig, and “body tan” (read: brown paint).

First of all, let me say, boy pulls the look off. He looks great. Second, this was more or less the funniest thing that the rest of us had ever seen or heard in our combined 100 years of life.

Of course we start to call him “Tecumseh!” even though that wasn’t his character (don’t sue me, PC people). There are jokes around the office–we print out the picture and tape it up, we make quips about his loincloth, you know, stuff that would only possibly get us fired if he chose to report it. And then I went to Borders.

Borders was going out of business at this time, and there was a location right across the street from Lookingglass, where my friend and collaborator Alex worked. We met up there a couple of times to peruse their gigantic sales. One trip in particular stoked the fires of genius.

What I realized was simple: That Matt as “Tecumseh!” looked just like Jacob from Twilight. But the implications were startling in their breadth. The second Twilight movie had just come out. There was a wide range of Twilight merchandise to choose from. The question was: What would I buy and put up in the office?

I must have spent half an hour trying to choose between the shirtless poster of Jacob and the higher-quality cloth poster upon which he was fully clothed. I finally decided on the shirtless poster, for obvious reasons. Alex, who’d managed to talk a manager into letting him buy a map of the US that was on the wall, walked with me to the cash register. And there, right before the counter, I saw it: A fully poseable Jacob doll. Sans shirt. With sculpted abs. For a dollar less than this poster.

Reader, I bought that doll. I bought that doll and skipped home in glee. And the next day, when Matt went to the bathroom, I set it up in front of his monitor. And how we all laughed. It became Matt’s loving gag to hurl Tecumseh-Jacob across the room whenever he found him. Or to shape a twist-tie noose for our brave werewolf hero. Or to attempt to mutilate him with a pen. And yet, one year and three months later (it took those three months for us to get hired, and we’re still all together), I can look at Jacob-Tecumseh at any point of my day. His abs have been further defined in pen. He is not currently attempting self-harm…that I can tell.

Matt, team–thanks for a year of laughs. You kept me sane through some of the strangest temp work I could imagine. And I promise to take good care of all of your diminutive voodoo counterparts…unless you get me fired.

Then all bets are off.


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