Author: Compton, Cliff

Halloween Party
And it?s Halloween, the day of celebrating all things dead, dying. or degrading, and in light of the occasion, the company decides to throw an party, thanking the workers for their contribution to death, dying and degradation, and certainly we?ll do our part, since none of us get out of this world alive, and working probably contributes more to the brevity of life than anything short of natural disasters and marriage.

Anyhow, they tell us to dress up, put on a costume that reflects the inner you, or whatever, and amidst the pirates, and the devils, and the doctors and the pop culture icons, I showed up with my hat, my bluegrass shirt, and my guitar, dressed up like joy, and life and all things that are right with this world.
And they?re cooking the barbecue, and mixing the guacamole, and arranging the plastic knives and forks, the analytical managers manager is making sure the creases are in the right places on the napkins or something, and the salesmen are hunched over their computers trying to get one last order in and I got my guitar on and I?m ready to play.

But partying in the business world is serious business, and what business has life and light in the middle of Halloween, but who cares anyway. I walk in and break into ?Since I laid my burdens down?, right between the jalapenos and the black beans and that little devil in the red cape and the aluminum eye lashes dropped her fork and everybody looks around the room to see if I?ve got permission, and no I don?t, but I?ve got my guitar, and what are they gonna do anyway.
And I walk out into the warehouse and sing ?Making a living by the sweat of my brow? and when I get to the part where Hazel Dickens says,

?I learned early in life that that was the rule
A worker ain?t nothing but a rich mans tool?

I saw the CEO out of the corner of my eye, and he looked like he was about to break into a cold sweat, but the warehouse guys were nodding there heads and tapping their feet, and I pulled out that sales manager who likes that high brow music, and I played a little Beethoven, But I played it a hundred miles an hour, bluegrass style, till he had to smile in spite of himself.

And it was Steve?s birthday, so I sang him happy birthday, till he turned red.
And I?m thinking to myself, about how me and the other Steve walked through the office, and the warehouse, and the shop, singing Christmas carols at Christmas, collecting quarters from the people wanting us to stop. Disrupting the flow of business, warming the cold florescent bulbs with the joy of the season, bringing smiles and disbelieving snorts from the faces of all we encountered. And I think about the salesmen in the office, bearing the weight of the world. Worrying about rising prices, impossible customers, unsolvable problems. And I see them growing gray, and older every day, and I just want to tell them, ?buy a banjo, take out your two front teeth, and live a little. Sing a song. Dance a jig.

?There?s an ice cream truck at the end of the road
Playing my favorite song
I?m pulling to the curb letting the engine run
Long enough to get me some
Before all the ice-creams gone?

Death, dying and degrading comes soon enough. Do your driving with both windows down.
Posted:  11/11/2008

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email