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  • This is a story of my father's. He went looking for work; he found a little stand near the docks, hiring day-laborers. You couldn't tell how many jobs the man at the podium had written down on his oily sheet; there was a sign-up sheet for those interested, and he called out some of the names. My father wrote his name: "Joel Kugelmass." Then he'd stand there, as the others were called away. He was disappointed, then confused; eventually, he was angry. Shifting his weight on sore feet, the only man left, he watched the jobs man fold up the list, then go. This went on for four days. Each day he would leave, and pass the time playing chess with Norwegian sailors. They were impossibly good. The wooden sets were old, the faces of the knights rubbed off. The sailors actually seemed sad about winning; to them, it was a grim confirmation of fate. After four days, my father changed tactics. He wrote his name as "Maxwell Weimar."

    "Weimar!" the man yelled, immediately. Joel stepped forward.

    They faced each other. Without an expression or a word, the man pointed behind him, toward the main office. If he knew Weimar was a Kugelmass, he gave no sign.
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