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Driver's Seat
Mollycoddlers, soothsayers and ...
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Cox ran an employment agency. He helped employers find workers, and workers to find jobs.

The parts Cox liked best were the many different people he met, and the many skills and abilities he saw in action.

A man walked in and filled out an application form. “I’m a sooth-sayer.” Cox said, “Please demonstrate.” The man said, “Sooth. Sooth.” Cox said, “By gosh, you certainly are a soothsayer. We’ll call you as soon as we find an opening.”

The phone rang. It was a sad-sounding woman. “My name is Molly, and I need coddling. Do you have any mollycoddlers looking for work?” Cox punched several buttons on his computer. “You’re in luck, Ms. Molly. We’ve got three on file. I’ll get in touch with them right away.”

The next applicant was a tall, white-haired man with a deep voice. “I do spellbinding. I bind people by casting spells on them with my resonant voice and eloquent phrases.” Cox said, “I’m sorry, but spellbinders are a dime a dozen these days. Most spellbinding is done during presidential election years. Come back in 2016.”

Shortly before noon, a lawn-care company phoned. The man’s voice was urgent. “We need all the bushwhackers you can send us. Mrs. Ellis came back from a month’s vacation and found all her bushes overgrown. There’s a ton of whacking to be done.” Cox said, “We’ll have six bushwhackers on your doorstep at 7 a.m. tomorrow.”

One of Cox’s most interesting requests came from the owner of a chain of ice cream parlors. He told Cox, “I need to hire about two dozen ice cream dippers. But they have to be slim. Overweight employees dipping ice cream make the customers think the workers are eating up the merchandise.”

Cox said, “I see. What you want is skinny dippers.” The ice cream man said, “That’s right.” Cox said, “I’ll do my best.”

Farmers sometimes contacted Cox and asked him to find trustworthy clod hoppers. He learned that term referred to persons (usually men) who hopped clods. A clod was a mound left behind when a horse or mule pulled a plow through dirt. The man guiding the horse then had to hop over the clod.

A local factory owner stormed into Cox’s office one day and demanded a refund on the fee Cox had charged him the previous week. “What’s wrong?” said Cox. The customer said, “You sent me a job jumper! He never stays put for more than a week. Then he jumps to another job.” Cox gave the man his money, and then put a sign in the front window: “Job jumpers need not apply.”

Cox posted another sign saying, “Bookkeeper wanted.” The next day a woman applied for the opening. Cox tested her by having her inspect his accounts-receivable file. She glanced at the file and said, “What do all these numbers mean?” Cox said, “Aren’t you a bookkeeper?” She replied, “Yes. I buy books and then keep them. I love books. Do you have any for me to keep?”

One day Cox bought a copy of the local newspaper, the Gazette. It was not a bad paper, but it lacked excitement. Cox said to himself, “The Gazette needs to rake more muck. I’ll check my files and see if I can send a few muckrakers over to the Gazette’s editor.”

A gorgeous blonde walked into Cox’s office. She stood 5 foot 9 inches tall with a blinding smile and a figure that could cause digital clocks to run backwards. Cox said, “Miss, what is your occupation?” She said, “I’m a head-turner. Wherever I go, heads turn and people smile at me.” Cox said, “That’s nice, but how do you earn money?” The lady giggled and said, “You’d be surprised.” Cox said, “I’ll sign you up. I’m sure we can find a place for your talents.”

The two job candidates that Cox could not help were a boondoggler and a hornswoggler. A boondoggler took bona fide tasks and after a few months turned them into expensive, time-wasting dead ends. The job market was overflowing with boondogglers, but nobody wanted to hire them. On the other hand, a hornswoggler was simply a deceiver, a liar or a cheat. He/she roamed the countryside searching for unsuspecting horns to swoggle. Nobody knew where the terms boondoggler and hornswoggler came from. Cox solved this problem by referring such job-hunters to Angie’s List. He was sure Angie would make short shrift of them.

One night Cox dreamed of a woman named Molly being coddled by a soothsaying, bushwhacking skinny dipper while both of them stood knee-deep in muck with rakes in their hands. It was a complicated dream, but when Cox awoke he knew instantly what it meant.

It meant that he loved his work. Can you think of a happier dream for a fellow to have?

Bob Driver is a former columnist for the Clearwater Sun. His email address is
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