I wrote the words to the "End of the Road" entry when I was bored to death in an American Literature class in 1997. I sing them to a mean little guitar ditty. I thought I posted them "just because," but apparently my subconscious operates a step ahead of the rest of me.
I only worked three days last week. Halloween was planned, last Thurday was a "sick" day. I had a three day weekend, spent more time than usual with my wife and kids and was feeling alright by Sunday night. But by Monday I, once again, felt like an overpleasured masochist, choking for the breath to beg my occupational overlords, "please sir, may I have some more?" It's a game I've played for years. Over 4 1/2 years to be exact. But I'm getting to be less of a young man. My wild oats have been sewn.
To use an analogy to annoy my partner-in-pain, Gordon (let's all say a prayer for him, as he is getting the business right this moment), it was much like that scene from the end of The Never-Ending Story where the little princess is holding the last fading ember of their world in her dainty little palms. I have been degraded and beat down, time and again, and I'm sure years are gone from my life that cannot possibly be recovered. The last shred of my dignity, the last cell of my human-ness, my last chance to finish earth with more than a hickory-nut spirit, these things were in my hands. Rather than feed them to a corporation with an insatiable appetite I chose to hold onto them with hopes of becoming someone worthwhile again.
I told you how reviewing pictures of myself from the past few years is a depressing experience. Why didn't someone tell me there was only death behind my eyes? But I went home Monday night/Tuesday morning and got my four hours of sleep. I did the first part of my day like any other, being with the kids. Eleanor got home late in the afternoon and things still seemed normal. But as time-for-work neared, I became unsettled. It must have seemed random to Eleanor when my voice took on an exacerbated tone, "I can't keep doing this. It's too much." I went and laid down on Olivia's bed. This, actually, has become a basic part of the daily routine, as well, for the last six months or so. I mean what I say every time but Tuesday I didn't feel like I could shake it soon enough to make that self-mortifying drive to the office.
Eleanor came and sat on the bed. She asked, "Do you want to go vote?" I said, "That's not what I'm worried about right this second. I REALLY don't think I can do it anymore. I think that's it." We talked about what a noble thing it was for me to continue to work at my job. I pointed out that that was the "pro" side to my situation and that we were always purposely ignoring the great many "cons." Eleanor got scared when she imagined the lapse in health insurance. I had applied for a few different jobs back in August but was never offered anything. I pursued the opportunity to work from home with my employer but nothing good in the corporate world is fast. I was getting really frustrated and said, "I know, Eleanor. I tried to do everything right. I tried to get another job before I quit. I'm trying to work from home. It's not my fault things aren't working out." I was getting mad and started storming out of the room. Through the kitchen to the stairs. "But that's all. I've done everything I can!" I drove my fist into the wall. "I've done everything I (expletive) can!" I ping-ponged down the stairs and laid down on the guest bed. Eleanor came down after a few minutes and I described how, on my last drive to work, I pulled into the parking lot and my mouth was hurting and realized I was grinding my teeth during full consciousness.
We went back upstairs. My kids ran up to me and told me it was bad to hit the wall and that I shouldn't do it anymore. Eleanor said she had meant to ask me if I'd broken my hand. If our walls were sheetrock I'm confident my fist would have gone through. But our walls are old lathe and plaster. I took out two or three plaster walls downstairs with a crowbar and sledgehammer over the year. They are substantially stronger than sheetrock. I was worried I had wasted away more than I thought and that my full-force punch had not affected the wall, but on closer inspection there are several hair-line cracks and a soft spot in the wall now. I can fix it.
I don't like to make rash decisions so I just called out sick for the night, despite being in the hole for "Paid Time Off." We went and voted (we lost, they will now build a huge Walmart in the middle of a residential area and right next to an ultra-busy intersection surrounding the hospital where two of my children were born. The added traffic will be lovely.) then we bought some fast food. It all sounds grim, but I told Eleanor it was necessary for me to be happy again. I could not be happy again without that crucial first step.
The overnight results were amazing. I only slept for six hours (I learned that additional sleep here and there does absolutely nothing to heal the wounds from work) but I woke up feeling refreshed and even excited to start the day. I cleaned up more around the house and was nicer to my kids. Eleanor said there was an unmistakable difference in me when she called me at lunch. I went to work that night and put in half a shift before I sat down to talk with my boss. I get along quite well with my boss. I was lucky to have a boss like her and you would be too. It's the "everything else" that sucked so bad. Sitting on your butt for eight hours, eskimo kissing a computer monitor, playing the "quiet game." It works for days, weeks or months but not years. Work was virtually a cross between the movie "Office Space" and the "Dilbert" comic strip. You laugh at these slices of life but you would also be justified to cry and cry and cry. Too close to home. My boss told me it would take a minimum of three months to work from home. That was pretty much the end of it. She seemed to understand. And it's no secret that members of management at about every level often quit after four years. I think the company realizes this and it just doesn't concern them very much. So I'm unemployed. I should be terrified but I'm very happy. I cast off the kryptonite millstone and I feel like the man of steel again. I woke up feeling like Popeye with a belly full of spinach.
I'll start the job-hunt Friday. If we get poor I can cash out the 401k and be fine through Christmas. I'm sure you'll here me crying "Wo, is me" if I can't work something out.
Job offers welcome.