After I graduated from college, my parents suggested that I try and become the Wiener Mobile boy.
“Jeff, you’ll meet all kinds of people, see the country. Think of the contacts you’ll make.”
My reply: “I’m not driving around in a giant hot dog.”
They had recently seen a feature on one of the driver’s of Oscar Mayer’s Wiener Mobile. His job: promote Oscar Mayer’s meat by trekking around the country in a giant hot dog and doing good deeds.
I had no problems with the promotions aspect of the job, nor with the doing good deeds stipulation. I simply couldn’t get past the vessel in which I would carry out my mission. I should also mention that I hadn’t eaten a hot dog since my little league days.
To be fair, I’ll admit that my parents started out like all mothers and fathers, giving me insight into the professional world (“stock brokers make a lot of money!”) and occasionally giving me inside information on possible jobs (“Bill, our insurance agent, said there’s an opening in his office.”) Wiener boy fever didn’t start for my parents until after I told them that one, I was not going to apply to law school, and two, I had no career-oriented job lined up a full month after graduation.
Of course I had a job. And of course I wasn’t calling up Mommy and Daddy and asking them for money. My parents were simply doing what parents do: fulfilling their roles as constant career advisors.
Things took a major turn for the worse when the unthinkable occurred: my parents met the Wiener Mobile boy, in all his future senator glory. In what seemed to be like direct orchestration on the part of the old testament God, my parents, on their annual visit to see me, ended up staying at the very same hotel where the Wiener Mobile boy decided to pull over and park his giant hot dog.
My parents made sure to call me right away. “Get over here. We’ve got a surprise for you,” my mom directed with suspicious excitement.
I saw the damn hot dog before I even turned into the hotel parking lot. “Great,” I said to myself, “just great.”
Having parked as far away from the mobile dog as I could, I was almost at the hotel lobby entrance when I heard my mom’s anxious call: “Jeff! Jeff, we’re over here.” I turned to see my parents standing in front of the Wiener Mobile with a well-dressed, squeaky-clean white boy smiling at me like we were long lost brothers.
Of course he was a nice guy, the Wiener Mobile boy. That was his job: to be nice. He was quick to tell us he had just helped some flood victims by handing out food and blankets. He was even quicker in telling us that it’s his job to do such niceties. I wanted to vomit. My parents wanted to take this guy home and call him son.
After a tour of the Wiener Mobile, and some more small talk, the Wiener Mobile boy got in his dog and drove away. Like the lone ranger and his silver bullets, the Wiener Mobile boy gave us a Wiener Mobile whistle. He was riding off into the sunset, surely smiling at the gawking faces from passing cars. I walked off with my tail between legs. I knew what was coming.
“That kid sure was nice,” my mom said longingly to my dad. And then, to me, “If you get it together, maybe you could be the next Wiener Mobile boy.”
This story originally appeared years ago in the first Working For The Man zine I published.