Because I make my living as an editor, my name appears in the masthead of each issue of the publication that (so far) continues to employ me. Few people bother to read the masthead. It’s interesting only if you’re really, really bored and you’ve read everything else five times.
Prison inmates have a lot of time on their hands.
Occasionally, an envelope will arrive with my name on it and inside will be a letter from some guy down south who says he’s doing 10 or 20 years for some vague thing like “property crimes,” or my all-time favorite, “traffic offenses.”
State prison for traffic offenses? Like what? You ran a stop sign five times while continuously backing up and pulling forward to run over a hooker?
Anyway, these guys are pretty much all looking for the same thing. They want tips on how to land a job in Alaska after they get out of the joint. They all figure they can come up here and work in a fish cannery or run a trapline. Maybe pack meat for a hunting guide. Any job that’s as far as possible from civilization, ex-wives, unwanted children and unwelcome investigators.
They always mention that they were experienced outdoorsmen before checking into the Graybar Hotel, as if that’s supposed to make be believe they’re just Alaskans trapped in Lower-48 bodies.
What they never explain is The Big Why: Why in the hell would I want to help an ex-con move to my state? Do they think we’re short of criminals and end-of-the-roaders? Trust me, plenty of them have already found their way up here. Sorry, we just don't have any current openings for people who want to beat women, rob houses, steal cars or sign up for public-assistance programs.
Besides, I’m a straight man who spends his free time pedaling through the woods in Lycra pants, goddammit. The last thing I need is more knife-wielding, shotgun-toting, sex-starved “outdoorsmen” wandering around the wilderness.
The only thing I want to hear squealing like a pig is my poorly adjusted brakes.