Story time with Uncle Steve: John Henry

Dec 1 | Posted by: Fighter #1 | Tags: Story time with Uncle steve

The following is a story of the little guy's triumph against the evils of industrialization.

Jonathan was a parking lot flag waver. He was a darn good parking lot flag waver! Whenever a sporting event, major concert, or awards show happened in Nashville, he was always right out there, wearing his reflective safety vest and waving an orange flag to tell motorists "hey! There's a parking lot here. For ten bucks, you can park your car while you go see the event or whatever." Jonathan had a lot of friends and co-workers in the standing-in-the-dark-and-rain-waving-a-flag-for-minimum-wage business, but everyone knew Jonathan was the best. No one could endure tedium and cold for $7.25 an hour like Johnny could.

Then, one day, disaster struck. His friend Mike McCormick rushed up to him.

"John! John!" Mike sputtered. "We're all in trouble! We're gonna lose our jobs!"

"What's going on Mike!"

"They've built a terrible machine, John! It's gonna cost us all our jobs!"

Mike led Jonathan over to the next parking lot where a terrible monstrosity loomed. Airdancer

The airdancer lay flaccid and deflated but still teemed with a sinister forboding. Suddenly, the foreman stepped out of the shadows, smoking a cigar and looking like a cross between a circus ringleader and the stereotype of a capitalist from Soviet propaganda.

"That's right, lads," the foreman said. "With these bad boys next to every parking lot downtown, you're all completely obsolete. Go home lads. You're all fired."

"Hold on, foreman!" A lone brave voice spoke up. The crowd parted as Johnny walked forward. "You may have a Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man, but you'll never beat the spirit of the working man!"

"What the devil are you talking about, boy?" Demanded the foreman.

"I propose a contest," Jonathan's jaw jutted out defiantly. "Me versus your tube puppet. Which sells more parking spaces?"

"Meh," shrugged the foreman. "Ok."

The foreman flipped the switch, and the airdancer sprang to life with a deafening roar. The crowd gawked at the machine precision of its colorful flailing. Jonathan was shocked. How could he compete with this? Then he gritted his teeth. Everyone was counting on him to beat this monstrosity. He snatched up his flag and rushed to the other entrance. They were off!

The crowd watched in awe as man and machine competed in this epic showdown. The airdancer flailed high and wide, fifteen feed of polyester glory, while Johnny deftly twirled his flag and stood stock still close to the line of sight of passing cars without disrupting traffic much.

Vehicles began to file into the lot as the minutes began to grind onward into hours. Some drove past Johnathan; some drove past the tube man. The contest was close!

Suddenly, as dusk fell, the rain began! Johnny bore it with a grim determination, while the airdancer continued to smile unchanging. As the air cooled, the rain slowly turned to sleet. Johnny waved undaunted, but the airdancer showed signs of slowing. The water and ice seemed to be taking their toll on it. The crowd began to grow hopeful. Perhaps Jonathan could beat this terrible machine!

The hours past, and the event ended. Finally, when the cars had all dispersed, the foreman came out. He flipped the switch, and the airdancer collapsed in a wet heap. He walked over to Johnny and looked him in the eye.

"Ya did good kid," the foreman muttered as he handed Johnny his $36.25. "Yeh can keep your job. Turns out every one of these tube guys costs upwards of $400, plus I gotta get lights for 'em. Hiring kids like you is just way cheaper."

Johnny smiled grimly and went home, exhausted and cold, but proud.

Then he caught pneumonia and died, because John Henry isn't allowed to live through his own story. Life kind of sucks sometimes.

Oh! Plus, all his friends were fired for standing around watching the competition that night instead of working at the other parking lots around downtown. Don't worry though! Half of them were hired back the next week. It's not like any of the other parking lot owners bothered to read their resumes. It's more like, "Oh, you're willing to work a ridiculous job for basically nothing, and you're not visibly intoxicated? Ok. You're hired."

The End. (No pun this time. Sorry, kiddies.)

"Meh," shrugged the foreman. "Ok."


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