Can you tell me how to get, how to get to the unemployment office?

“Last name?”


“First name?”


“Excuse me?”

“Big…Big Bird.”


“Sesame Street.”

“Sesame Street?”


“What is the number on the house?”

“Well…I don’t know.”

“Have you ever filled out a claim before?”


“Previous employer?”

“The Public Broadcasing System.”

“What was your position?”


“No, no, I mean were you an executive, a sales rep, a consultant…?”

“Well, I was just a bird…isn’t that a job?”

“How long were you employed as a…bird?”

“Let’s see…1, 2, 3, 4, 5…”

“What are you doing?”

“Counting the number of years I was with PBS.”

“Don’t you know offhand?”

“I’m just so used to counting things.”

“Oh…is that what you did for PBS…inventory?”

“No…I just counted things.”

“You counted things…you mean you were a counting bird?”

“Yes…well, sometimes I did letters.”

“Mr. Bird…”

“Please, call me Big Bird.”

“Mr. Bird, you’re not helping much. How can I get you your unemployment benefits if I can’t find out what you did for a living?”

“I’m sorry, Miss Unemployment Person.”

“What else can you do besides count and read?”

“I can walk around my neighborhood and help kids.”

“You mean like a counselor?”

“I guess so…is that someone who counts?”

“No, it…never mind…do you have any references?”

“Well, there’s Oscar the Grouch and Snuffluffigus.”

“Can you at least tell me why you were let go from your last job?”

“I don’t know…a lot of us can’t go there anymore. Elmo, Kermit, The Frugal Gourmet, Mr. Pavoratti.”

“Have you tried networking?”

“No, Mr. Hooper always told me to stay away from the networks.”

“Mr. Bird, bring these forms back in 2 weeks listing your job search.”

“Won’t you believe me if I just told you I looked for a job?”

“Mr. Bird, I don’t make the rules.”

“Who makes the rules? Can you teach me?”

“Mr. Bird, it’s a long story. I’ll see you in 2 weeks for orientation.”

“OK…thank you for helping me.”

“You’re welcome…Mr. Bird, before you go, I just thought of something. Someone was in here last week who acted just like you. Maybe he could help you out.”

“That’s wonderful! Do you have his name?”

“I don’t remember his last name…it was Barney something…”

(Originally published in Cape Ann Weekly a few years ago.)

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