Needing a Vacation

Common sense isn't always found in the workplace.

How to tell if you're in the wrong job (or if you've been in the right job just a bit too long):

· A grocery store clerk might hold a clue as to what happened to Laci Peterson, a Modesto woman who was eight months' pregnant when she disappeared on Christmas Eve. The spotlight of suspicion has been focused on her husband, who admits he was cheating on his pregnant wife and claims that he spent Christmas Eve day fishing in the Berkeley Marina, despite weather that day that locals describe as dismal, even by Bay Area standards.

The clerk claims that a woman who matches Peterson's description went through her checkout lane accompanied by an older man. When the man left the line briefly to go get another item, the woman told the clerk something to the effect of, "Please help me. I'm being kidnapped. Call the police."

The clerk said she was then distracted by something and FORGOT ALL ABOUT IT! She only remembered the incident after she spotted a picture of the missing woman in the newspaper, despite the fact that Peterson's face had been all over the print and electronic media for more than a month.

You can just imagine that encounter:

Clerk: These are three for a dollar.

Customer: Uh-huh.

Clerk: This is $2.49 a pound.

Customer: OK. (Pause) Please help me. I'm being kidnapped. Call the police.

Clerk: Do you have any coupons?

We've all been there. You wait in line, put your stuff up onto the conveyor, and are then "greeted" with the perfunctory "How are you today?" and/or "Did you find everything you were looking for?"

One time I knew the woman wasn't paying attention, so when asked how I was doing, I said, "I was OK until this homeless guy lurking outside your store bit my left leg off just below the kneecap."

Without even looking up, she responded, "Well, that's nice. Do you have your Fry's card with you today?"

(Please note that I used the term "homeless," according to the Unwritten Rules of Journalism, about which I know very little. Had he been tried and convicted of biting my left leg off just below the kneecap, he would then be referred to as a "transient.")

As for Laci Peterson, obviously, we all hope for the best, but we also know that these things rarely end well. If it was indeed the husband who did it, I hope they make him queen of the Pelican Bay Prom, where he can cheat on his new "spouse" and never have to worry about anybody getting pregnant.

· All of the members of the working media who cover UA men's basketball let the once-in-lifetime confluence of the candy-bar pilfering allegations and the shocking home loss to so-so Stanford go by without even once referring to the Arizona basketball team as the Kit-Kats. These opportunities don't come along every day.

· Major-league baseball umpire Bruce Froemming, upset after being chided for having made his own travel arrangements to Japan for the season opener despite being told that the league would do so for him, left a phone message for the woman in charge of travel in which he called her a "stupid Jew bitch."

Being a major-league umpire, Froemming probably weighs around 875 pounds, so he probably needed to make special travel arrangements. But exactly how many foul balls does one have to take off the mask before he's dumb enough to leave an anti-Semitic slur on a recording?

· A teacher in Missouri was fired after she told her class that white and blacks shouldn't date, shouldn't marry and definitely shouldn't have children together.

George W. Bush's people are looking for a sympathetic federal judgeship appointee to hear the teacher's appeal. Maybe they can get one of Trent Lott's old cheerleading homies.

· A student is suing a professor because the teacher wouldn't write a letter of recommendation. The problem? The student wants to enter a field of science, but doesn't believe in the theory of evolution. The professor rightly claims that it's insane for someone to enter a scientific field of study or work if their religious beliefs prevent them from being scientific.

The student is claiming discrimination, stating that it's the same as if he had been turned down because he was black or a woman. Dude, even if a black Communist homosexual woman (or anybody other than Angela Davis) were to try such a stunt, they too would need to get slapped around.

I'm an industrial-strength Catholic and I have no problem believing in evolution. Even the Catholic Church doesn't officially dispute it. Besides, what happens if when you get to heaven, God turns out to look like Dan Hedaya, the guy on Cheers who played Carla's ex-husband, Nick Tortelli? Then you'd know that there was indeed a missing link.

· And finally, here's a person who probably shouldn't be working anywhere. Derrick Craig, who manages a sporting goods and clothing store in Akron, Ohio, admitted that he gave prep basketball phenom LeBron James two jerseys with a combined retail price of $845 because James is a star and he spends "a lot of money" in the store. This is a direct violation of Ohio high-school sports rules and it brought James' prep career to a screeching halt, not unlike when he crashed his new $50,000 Hummer into a car being driven by an 88-year-old woman two weeks ago. The Hummer had been a birthday gift from his (ahem) mother.

Said Craig, "We get celebrities in here all the time. Sometimes you just got to give them some love."

You Sir, work at a store where they sell raggedy jerseys for $400 each. You've got no love to give.

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