Stringer Wireman interviews columnist Steve Hansen:
Wireman: Steve, how did you become a newspaper columnist? You don’t seem to have any background in journalism.
Hansen: You raise an interesting point, Stringer. I’ve been a teacher, a professor, a psychotherapist — even a used car salesman. Since none of these occupations ever required any recognizable level of skill, I figured I’d be perfect carrying over my incompetence as a newspaper columnist.
Wireman: Has the last 13 years been profitable for you in this occupation?
Hansen: If you want to know the truth, I’ve made a small fortune. My columns have been seen in outlets around the world. But unfortunately, there is nothing to show for it today.
Wireman: Why? What happened?
Hansen: Well, I put all my earnings with this guy named Bernie Madoff, and boy, he really “made off” with it! But I wasn’t the only dummy out there. I heard a lot of Hollywood types got smoked too.
My last venture was playing the options market in hopes that PG&E stock would go to 100. Well, we all know what happened to that one!
But I’m not giving up. I have an insider opportunity to invest in a no-calorie pepperoni pizza company pitched by a robocaller. This one should really hit the mark!
Wireman: So, are you now broke?
Hansen: Just about. I’ve set up shop under a bridge on Highway 99. I use camouflage techniques learned in the Army to hide from authorities. I can still type out my column on a laptop attached to a small generator powered by a little girl’s stolen bicycle.
Wireman: I’m sorry to hear that. So what keeps you writing your column? Why don’t you get a real job?
Hansen: I’ve never had a real job, Stringer. When I was a teacher, the kids did all the work. As a professor? Well, need I say more? How about a shrink? All I did was paint eyeballs on my eyelids and pretend to listen. Used cars? That was just a matter of pairing up the right person with the right vehicle. You know what they say in the business: There’s a derriere for every seat — ha, ha!
Truth is, I wouldn’t know what to do in a real job. I’d probably be fired on the first day.
Somebody might order a burger and I’d give ‘em chicken nuggets. If a customer gave me any lip, I’d just say: “I have a Ph.D. What have you got, Einstein?”
Wireman: Now I’ll ask what everyone wants to know: Where do you get your ideas for the hundreds of columns you’ve written?
Hansen: That’s easy, Stringer. I turn on C-SPAN every day and watch congressional hearings. People who say there is no such thing as a dumb question haven’t paid attention to some of our congressional representatives these days.
You wouldn’t believe the stuff they ask witnesses, such as: “If we put too many troops on Guam, would the island capsize?” or, “Do you realize the Constitution is 400 years old?” or, “Didn’t you know Neil Armstrong landed on Mars?”
I also observe presidential news conferences and watch reporters play, “Now I gotcha.”
From these two sources, along with reruns of “Jerry Springer” and “Cheaters,” my inspiration is stimulated. I never seem to run out of ideas.
Wireman: So how long do you plan to keep this up?
Hansen: Well, that’s a good question. As long as people keep laughing, I guess I’ll keep doing. It’s one day at a time for me. It certainly beats getting a real job. I’ve had too much water under the bridge for that one.
Wireman: Thanks for the interview, Steve. Your comments, shall we say, have been “interesting.”
Hansen: You’re welcome, Stringer. By the way, if I ever do engage in honest employment, you’ll be the first to know.
Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer and satirist.