Leslie R. Lee challenged me to use this spomment (a spam comment left on a blog) for my writing prompt: “unwanted fat men and women piled up about”. Never one to refuse a challenge (unless I darnded well WANT to refuse it), I accept.
copyright August 19, 2012
The jingle played again on the radio, the third time I’d heard it this morning, to and from shopping at the Lady Plus outlet:
The fatter you are, the better you fly!
Successful dieters need not apply.
For some reason, I actually listened to the man in the ad this time, instead of dismissing the announcement as a particularly insensitive commercial for a diet club.
Are you overweight? Have you tried everything and been unsuccessful? Sky-High Support is now taking applications for its new training program. Some risk is involved, so applicants without dependents are preferred.
He gave the time and location — now and nearby.
I was the perfect applicant: In my mid-twenties, I’d started picking up weight. I’d cut back on calories, stepped up exercise, and still gained weight. When I reached — years old and pounds over my optimal size — my husband filed for divorce. We had no children. My parents were financially solid. So, no dependents. And risk sounded good this morning.
I walked into the lobby of the hotel hosting the application fair I saw I wasn’t the only one attracted by the offer. Unwanted fat men and women piled up about the conference room door like teens at a rock concert, but with fewer of us per square inch.
The door opened and we filed in. A man who could have been a poster boy for the organization handed us each a clipboard equipped with a stack of papers and a tethered pen.
“Take a seat and fill these out. Take a seat and fill these out.” His voice never lost its animation, no matter how often he said it. His eyes sparkled as brightly as the buckle on his triple-X belt.
They ran out of applicants before they ran out of chairs. Not all unwanted fat men and women are willing to admit to either state.
I looked over the papers while I waited for the doors to close and for somebody to tell me what this was all about. The papers gave nothing away. They were health histories, HIPA forms, employment histories, interest evaluations, and personality tests. Nothing about them.
After about fifteen minutes, the man at the door closed it and said, “Anybody finished filling out the papers?” Some hands went up. “Anybody started?” A few more hands. “Okay, if you’ve started or finished, please move to the next room.”
When they were gone and the door had shut behind them, he said, “Those are the first wash-outs. We’re not looking for the kind of people who would fill out papers without knowing what the papers were for. As for the rest of you, welcome to the first cut for the Support Program. Here’s what we do: We train you to go into dangerous situations and retrieve people. Might be hostage situations, might be a fall in hard-to-reach terrain, might be the debris of a wreck or a collapsed building.”
More than one voice couldn’t help saying, “Fat people?”
“Fat people.” He patted his chest. “I’ve logged over a thousand hours in field rescue. The Sky-High Support Program tests you to make sure you can’t lose weight under any normal circumstances, does blood work to make sure you’re healthy, then, if you get through those cuts, we train you for rescues.”
We all cut looks at each other. I couldn’t picture myself climbing up and down mountains or working my way through train wrecks. And it seemed like, if somebody was trapped under ten tons of rubble, the last thing they’d want is another two hundred or so on top of that. Still, the opportunity was too good to pass up. The worst that could happen would be that we’d fail the second cut by losing weight — not a failure any of us would regret.
The rest of the story is posted at Race to the Hugo Award. Hop over and read it, and read the rest of the stories there, too, while you’re at it. 🙂
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Grab a random phrase and plot a story around it.