July 18, 2009

Trading Pickles

By Paul McGuire © 2009

Sven worked in the largest pickle factory in Western Norway in a dreary town. Sven's options were limited since he had a terrible habit of holding a steady jobs. In the four and a half years since he graduated from university, he held no less than 76 jobs. All of them had something in common... he was fired from all 76.

A dozen of those jobs were in restaurants and Sven learned right away that he was not cut out to be in the food industry. Sven tried conventional office jobs. He temped for an agency, but that lasted less than a week. Sven drove a cab for three days and was fired. Sven took a position with the health department and quickly lost the job when he slept with his boss' teenage daughter. Sven fled to the boondocks to escape any potential statutory rape charges. The only job that he could find was in the largest pickle factory in Western Norway.

Sven's job was simple. He stood in front of a massive conveyor belt that transported pickles. His task? Remove any pickles that seemed irregular or too small. He was the fifth of six people on the line. By the time the conveyor belt of pickles reached him, 95% of the bad pickles were already removed by his colleagues. Since he was not the last line of defense, he completely slacked off. After all, in case he missed an irregular pickle, it was Johan's responsibility to catch it since Johan stood at the end of the line.

On his breaks, Sven snuck into the parking lot and stole cigarettes. Most of his fellow workers left their car doors open which made it easy for Sven to swipe a cigarette or two. Sometimes, Sven stole CDs or loose change. Every once in a while, he got caught but quickly apologized and mentioned that he was getting something out of a friend's car and mistakenly opened up the wrong car.

Lifting cigarettes was usually the highlight of Sven's day. Well, that and the end of his shift. He quickly raced out of the factory and drove to the closest pub in search of free drunken sex. He lingered all night scoping out possible mates and then went in for the kill. He always looked for the most wasted woman in the bar. Sometimes he was able to take her home and have his way with her. Other times she passed out completely which meant that he dumped her off at the side of the road and stole whatever Kroner she had in her purse. When Sven struck out completely, he drove to the neighboring town and visited a brothel owned by a woman named Maeva.

During the 1970s, Maeva was the most successful Madame in Oslo. Everyone who was everyone knew Maeva. She corralled girls for the rich and famous including politicians, dignitaries, and wealthy businessmen. She also catered to the members of the Norwegian hockey team and whenever a well-known rock and roll bands from the UK or the States would play concerts in Oslo, the promoters always made sure that the dressing rooms were well stocked with Maeva's girls.

Maeva eventually retired and after a couple of years, she quickly grew bored with doing nothing so she returned to doing what she knew best... the sex business. She renovated an old house in Sandness and operated a very discreet but very popular brothel.

Sven was a regular customer at Maeva's house of ill repute. He often showed up two or three times a week and blew most if not all of his paycheck at the pickle factory on Maeva's girls. He knew every single whore who worked for Maeva. Most of them were Romanian or Polish and he had sampled them all. The only Native Norwegian who worked there was Maeva and she was half-Swedish, but too old and wrinkly for Sven's tastes.

Despite numerous incidents with his uptight shift manager, Sven managed to keep his job at the pickle factory for two years. On the morning of his second year anniversary at the factory, one of the executives in the human resources department called him into the office. Sven expected to get fired for stealing a case of pickles. He was astonished when the suit handed him a paycheck that reflected an automatic raise. Sven did not know how to react. He had never held a job long enough where he was rewarded with a raise.

Sven thanked the executive and didn't bother returning to his position on the line. Instead, he close the door to the office, lit up a cigarette, and slowly walked out. Sven never finished his shift and his two year career at the largest pickle factory in Western Norway came to an end.

Sven pilfered about twenty cigarettes and a couple hundred Kroners from various cars in the parking lot before he finally left. He drove straight to Maeva's house. She politely asked him to leave when he offered to pay for a blowjob from one of the Polish whores in exchange for a case of stolen pickles.

Paul McGuire is the author of Lost Vegas.

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