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Small Change

Soon after my brief fling with show biz as Pete the Pelican flapping my wings in a Chevy convertible (a non speaking part) my advertising career hit a wall.

My boss gave me an envelope ... a final paycheck ... and a handshake. Apparently, we weren't bringing in enough money to support the three of us ... and he wanted to award a bonus increase to his secretary when she ascended to Vice President of Sales.

No one was hiring a young graphic designer so I had to take a temporary position ... as a SCAB. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, I was a replacement telephone operator in downtown New Orleans during the phone operator's strike. I crossed the picket line every evening to the boos and hisses of the union members. My hours were 12AM - 7AM. I shared a cubicle with a blind man named Barry and Roxanne, the Bourbon Street stripper. I don't really remember much about Barry other than he was the only other man working there ... but Roxanne had a very interesting life (surprised?).

Roxanne didn't want to always be a stripper (of course). She enrolled at LSUNO and took two classes (God knows what they were) 5 years earlier and intended to return to continue a carreer in something more fulfilling (like medicine or law). The tattoos that covered her arms and legs would never be a hinderance for her and the much needed dental work would certainly be paid for when she completed her first successful heart transplant. She sometimes wore her costume when she came directly from the club and often brought her pet boa (the snake not the scarf) with her, as well.

It was a little distracting.

When the strike was over ... we were given our walking papers. I wasn't nearly as broken up about it as some of my co-workers who felt that they were just at the pinnacle of their new "careers" ... cut down in their prime. They exchanged phone numbers, hugged, cried and pledged to keep in touch with each other. It was like a scene from "A League of Their Own" when the war was over and the Women's Baseball League was disbanded.

I wonder if there is a SCAB Operator Hall of Fame somewhere in our honor.


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