When Canada was building railways and highways, if you could speak English and peer through a surveyor’s level, you had a job. No matter that your arithmetic was less than reliable — you’d get through the winter.
When most of us were doing well in the 1970s and busy reading consumer magazines on the general subject of “How to be rich,” a young man could be a consumer magazine editor with much less than a degree in literature. You could pay the rent in the big city.
Just in time, computers began to appear under our office desks and they demanded software. If you could find your way around a database query, you could make enough to fly your family to Europe.
Recently, I had begun to think that I might be a little old for the next big thing. But no. There’s another boon-doggle, and it’s here in the Med.
Business is good for terrorists, and a willingness to work is all you need. National governments are so desperate for terrorists they’ll take just about anybody. This is going to be bigger than Mary Kay Cosmetics.
Most of us are in our sixties. We don’t yet need help crossing the street, unless we’ve forgotten our sunglasses. We’re still young enough to paint a banner and drive a boat. Our talents for organizing are … well let’s just say that we can create chaos all by ourselves, and at a moment’s notice just by calling a meeting. And we’ve learned that if you keep yabbering “human rights, human rights” you’ve got the job.
But, I really need the work, so I’m going the extra mile. I hang around the street, in clear view of the recruiters, with a young man named Mohammed. He’s better looking than Omar Sharif, and he has that threatening confidence that only an X-ray technician can project. We make a formidable pair, as long as I don’t let my stomach slump.
I wear those military-style pants with pockets on the thigh because, otherwise, I can never get to my cell phone before it gives up on me. Yes, my number will remain secret. And yours too. That is, until an anti-Terrorist mugs me and runs off with it. That’s already happened to the less vigilant among us. They made the mistake of leaving their phones in their beach bags. Now they’re off the pay-roll. I’m not going to make that mistake.
The beard helps too. Three days of growth is about right, and that’s my usual when I’m not traveling on business.
It looked a little dodgy yesterday, when a minister of defense instructed us to use dangerous chemicals. My black baseball cap and my lethal mechanical pencil were suddenly under par. Not one to give up, I found a bottle of skunky beer — no one can stand that chemical — but it was hard to carry around. Then I realized that my sun-screen contains Paba, which is banned in all European countries. It causes cancer. I’m in.