Less than two days after announcing he won’t run for re-election, Duluth Mayor Don P. Ness was seen turning in an application at Target for a cashier position. He was dressed nicely for the occasion, wearing a button-up shirt and nicely pressed slacks. Ness was also seen making the rounds at the Miller Hill Mall, applying to Claire’s, Cinnabon and Hot Topic.
“The national economy is still recovering, so finding a job’s really tough,” said Ness, picking at a Caramel Pecanbon. “I don’t even like Cinnabons. They’re too sweet. Eating them makes me wanna barf. Don’t print that! That’s just between us. Normally I wouldn’t care, but I really need this gig. Laura said if I don’t get a job soon, I’m gonna drive her nuts.”
According to Alice Frond, manager at Cinnabon, Ness has an excellent resume, but won’t be hired because of the poor track record of other former politicians they’ve hired.
“Been there, done that,” said Frond. “He seems nice, but so did Herb Bergson, and that guy showed up to work drunk every morning. I don’t need to pay people to sit around eating frosting. Also, Ness looks like my ex-boyfriend, and I ain’t got time for that. Sorry, boo.”
Ness – or “Boo”, as he is affectionately called by some – is not alone in his difficulty finding work after holding public office. Most politicians spend years or even decades working as campaign managers or political activists before getting elected. Once removed from office, they find themselves lacking in real world skills like folding clothing, straightening products on a shelf or selling loofahs to strangers over the phone.
Duluth’s first mayor, Joshua B. Culver, reportedly had so much trouble finding work after his second term in 1883 that he earned a living performing sexual acts with his mouth behind the dumpster of the A&W Restaurant in Superior, WI. Ness neither confirmed nor denied this as a possible backup option.
Ness looked tired and forlorn after a long day of job hunting at the mall.
“Why won’t they call me back?” said Ness, his eyes big and woeful like a cartoon puppy. “I just don’t get it. Being mayor requires all the same skills as a job in retail. You have to be likeable, able to take large amounts of verbal abuse and be willing to spend most of your day bored out of your skull and surrounded by idiots. It’s the same job! Being mayor is a 24-hour version of working at Express for Men.”
When asked whether he was also turned down for a job at Express for Men, Ness wiped a tear from his eye and declined to comment.
“All the college kids are back in town, and all the good part-time jobs are going to them,” said Ness, furrowing his brow. “It’s not fair. I’ve been walking around for, like, 40 minutes and everybody’s all ‘Ehhhh, fill out this application.’ I’m the mayor! Just hire me already! I’m sooo over this dumb mall. It’s, like, a mall for total asswipes.”
During our interview, a manager from JCPenney approached Ness and said they’d be delighted to hire him for a cashier position. Ness took the application and thanked him, but crumpled it up and threw it away after the manager left.
“God, I’m not that desperate,” said Ness, rolling his eyes. “My friends would, like, make fun of me for the rest of my life. I need to get a job with a cool discount that everybody wants. I’ll be so popular if Forever 21 calls me back. People will be, like, begging to be my friend.”
Local residents were disappointed to see Ness not run for a third mayoral term, but have also beenvery supportive of the decision. Some were even delighted to hear he’d be taking his talents to the private sector.
“Now that the city is doing well again, I’m glad he’s moving on to a job that needs him,” said Gladys Poonsby of Duluth. “I hope he gets the Target job. That store has been a mess for years. Last week they ran out of Gold Peak diet iced tea, so they filled its spot on the shelf with the sweetened kind! Of all the nerve! Just leave it empty, for Christ’s sake! It made it look like it was discontinued! Shit!”
Despite his employment troubles, Ness doesn’t regret his decision. Like Jesus Christ or Reginald VelJohnson, Ness will take his talents wherever they’re needed most. Which, at the moment, is looking like Starving Students Moving Service or a construction job where he holds the little sign telling drivers to slow down. He also briefly considered joining the acting/educational group Up With People, but ultimately decided against it.
“I still have some dignity,” said Ness.
Ness is one of the most popular mayors in Duluth’s history, but the position has greatly limited the time he spends with his commemorative spoon collection. Once that imbalance has been corrected, many people believe Ness will run for office again in 2023, when other mayors have had enough time to muck things up.
Correction: The first paragraph of this column listed Mayor Ness’ middle initial as “P”. That was incorrect. Apparently, it’s not even close. We regret the error. Not enough to fix it, mind you, but enough to point it out in small lettering.