Maybe I'm just a wuss after all. After all, I survived EMD as did so many others who were not physically crippled or emotionally scarred by the experience. And it wasn't the physical labor, the "hoppin' like a bunny," that made the pre-load such hell. In fact, I regret now that I didn't take up serious running until ten years later. With the legs that EMD gave me, I'll bet I could have run a marathon in under three hours! When I got home in the small hours, my legs used to tingle wonderfully and I weighed 130 pounds, tops.
It wasn't physical. It was psychological, the idea that a machine could make me run like a crazed rabbit. The idea that a machine could make a fool of me. The idea that a machine, something with no soul, could so enrage me. I don't work fast and I get flustered easily. That's just who I am and I can't change that. If you want "grace under pressure," I'm not your guy. "Don’t get mad, get even" is excellent advice, but I got only the first part, getting mad.
Anyway, dear EMD, here is that doggerel that I wrote so many years ago. I think maybe I have made my peace with you. Let’s hope so.
Easy Money (or, How I found EMD and True Happiness)
Oh, I've been up and I've been down,
But now my life is sunny:
Work all night at EMD,
Scarf up that easy money.
(refrain [after each verse])
Hoppin' like a bunny,
Laughin' all the time.
Son: spend yer life at EMD
Where workin' is a crime.
Mary Lou, with eyes so blue, says,
"Wanna be my honey?
Jess truck on down to EMD,
'n git some easy money."
Cousin Zeke, the hippie freak, says,
"Straight'n out yer head.
Do yer thing at EMD—
Groove on that easy bread."
Uncle Dwight, the socialite, says,
"Life can be a bash!
Paint the town in trucks of brown,
Rake in that casual cash!"
We can make the whole world free,
The Reds will lose their scruples,
When all them happy Moscovites
Grab up them relaxed ruples.
God made the world in just six days
And then when He was done He
Said, "One sole pleasure left to man:
That EMD easy money."
Grandpa Jasper went to heaven,
Saint Peter thought it funny.
Said, "Ain’t no joy up here for you,
After all that easy money."
The pre-load is a jolly crew
Made up of red-eyed scholars
Who sit around till sundown
To court them darlin’ dollars.
There'll come a day (though far away)
When my soul drops to my boot,
Jest lay me on the belt and watch me smile
When I think of all that loot!
The widder Shea can have her day
And play at roulette and rummy.
Go to Vegas and play away
All that easy money.
Which is fine with me, for don’t you see
That the world’s delights do fail
Against the fun of EMD—
Takin' money home in a pail!
Meet Your Macinstructor
Jerome Shea is an emeritus professor of English at the University of New Mexico, where he still teaches his classical tropes course every fall and his prose style course every spring. He has been the Weekend Wonk since January of 2007. His email is email@example.com.