EM Reprint: Impossible is Nothing

28 11 2009

(Originally published June 1, 2007)

Several years ago, I was doing the “temp” thing in the Chicago metro area. My plan was to work 2-3 days a week, then interview for “real” jobs on my free days. Getting a full-time “temp” job ran counter to the plan. But one day, I was assigned to work for the Sears service center in Harvey, IL. My role was to help the technicians lift the air conditioning units so they could clean the unit, etc. When I wasn’t out on calls, I was working in the warehouse area packing orders, and restocking shelves.

Harvey isn’t the world’s most pleasant suburb. At the time, it had its fair share of gang activity, and being a “whitey white bread” from the more idyllic suburbs wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Fortunately, I had a wide range of experiences going into this assignment, including being tasked with doing inventory on the “rap” section at the music store I used to work for part-time. Few of my co-workers wanted to have anything to to with the “rap” section, and even though it wasn’t my bag, I at least had a passing familiarity with Ice-T, Ice Cube, DJ Magic Mike, and so on.

Being the new guy at the service center meant getting a lot of grief from the other temps. Who was I? What were my credentials? Did I think I had what it takes? (To do what, I don’t know.)

I more or less befriended a brash but personable guy who wanted to make an example out of me. In his view, I was “too white” to fit in there, and couldn’t relate to anything everyone else liked. He grilled me on what Ice-T’s latest album was, or who the Fu Schnickens were. My inventory days paid off, and finally, the guy turned to his friends and said, “I can’t fade him, dog.” I love street slang. As if I was supposed to disappear slowly or something with each wrong answer.

Where he did “fade” me was in the rapping department. He considered himself to be an up and coming star, despite not actually performing anywhere, but he had plans to record a CD. I never actually heard him rap, but he insisted that he could make anything rhyme. Nobody could “fade” him.

I said, “OK, rhyme with ‘orange’.”

Without missing a beat, he said, “aw, that’s easy. You just twist a few words, break a little English, and you get ‘Bjorn Bornge‘.”

I don’t know if he ever recorded his CD. I would have bought it, if only for being the first guy I knew to effortlessly rhyme with orange.

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