Warning: This post ended up being over 2200 words. I didn’t intend to write that much when I started out and I don’t know if you like my writing enough to read all that so I’m giving you the heads up so you can bail now instead of putting in the effort and then complaining about “X minutes of my life I’ll never get back.”
So don’t say I didn’t tell you.
Thanksgiving is over, but the holidays are not, it’s Monday, and to add a little icing to this cake o’ crap, it is colder than it’s been yet this year and the sky looks like it wants to rain, sleet, or snow, but it won’t do any of them; so it’s overall a grey, gloomy day. I guess this is the kind of day the Eagles had in mind when they sang, “the sky won’t snow and the Sun won’t shine and it’s hard to tell the night-time from the day . . .”
How’s that for sounding cheerful at the beginning of the week? Sorry. I try to keep the tone light and upbeat here in the Kingdom of the Filthy Feet, but today, I just don’t think I can manage it. As Cathy — the cartoon girl — puts it, “I can deal with one day at a time, but lately, several days have attacked me all at once.”
I don’t usually do well around the holidays, but lately — and today in particular — I’ve just felt particularly . . . I dunno . . . down. Way down.
To put it succinctly, the future isn’t bright enough for me to be forced to wear shades. In point of fact, the future looks downright gloomy . . . but I’m certain that what I can discern isn’t HALF as bad as what’s actually going to happen, and that’s a blessing of sorts. I mean, would you REALLY want to know the train is about to round the bend and you are at the point of no return on the train trestle over the 1500 foot drop to the raging rapids below?
(Of course, I don’t know how you’d have gotten yourself into the aforementioned predicament since the train should blow that really loud whistle whenever a blind curve is coming up AND no train trestles in the world span a 1500 foot drop, so you’d get a warning in time to get off a bridge that doesn’t exist, BUT if a way exists to get one’s tail wedged firmly in such a hypothetical crack, I’d find it and get stuck in it.)
But I digress.
Making matters even more ticklish for the immediate future is the knowledge that my unemployment insurance runs out tomorrow, November 30. I qualified for three extensions and had qualified for a fourth when the House of Reps fell into the hands of the Republicans.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I don’t waste my time getting terribly political because I firmly and honestly believe 50% of politicians of ANY party at the local level are crooked, no-count, self-serving, egg-sucking snakes. At the state level, the egg-sucking snake percentage rises to around 80%. If one of those state pols gets to the House of Reps, the ESSP rises again to 90%, and that politician who slithers as far as the Senate (sometimes derisively called”The World’s Most Exclusive Millionaire’s Club) tops out at 99% on the ESSP and since the Senate only has 100 members, you may draw your own conclusions. I don’t HATE politicians or anything of that nature, I just know that they do not represent me or my family. They represent themselves.
But I digress yet again.
Having said that, I DO know that the Republicans historically are much less likely to open the public coffers to help the down and out or the unemployed AND I also know that all the incoming “TEA party” and neo-plus-ultra Conservative Republicans have vowed to stop unemployment extensions immediately . . . I’m getting no more water from that particular public well. The loss of$1500 dollars of income when I was released two school years ago was painful. Losing another $1000 will be devastating at best.
“So, why don’t you get off your lazy fat rump roast and get a job,” many of you think to yourselves, “You are not quite 40 years old, you’re in decent health even if a few new aches and pains have popped up in odd places, and you have a freaking MASTERS DEGREE!” Truthfully, I cannot deny one word of that tirade (which I’ve heard more than any of you could possibly imagine in the last 18 months). Please allow me to explain, which some will doubtlessly call “making excuses,” and to whom I would give the same advice Atticus gave Scout after her first day at school went all pear-shaped. Don’t know it? Google it please, I’m running out of words.
GETTING the job isn’t as much of the problem as you would think. I do have a Master’s degree, I am smarter than the average bear, and I have a loyalty streak to employers as wide as the New River Gorge. Since I was 15 years old and went to work for Mr. Richard Caldwell at Community Cash in Fountain Inn, I have only held nine jobs. That includes grocery store and parts store work through high school and textile plants during college. Whatever I do, I’m very good at it and I give it my all.
So what’s the problem? Of those nine jobs, I only left two of my own free will. The other seven either outright fired me or worked things so that I ended up being low man right before a layoff. See, I’ve always been very high-strung. It runs in three of the four main branches of my family (Thank you, Papa Wham! RIP) Luckily, I was MOSTLY able to work through it. Unfortunately, you know that filter between your brain and your mouth where tact and good people skills reside? Well, I was born without that particular piece of equipment. That means at some time or other, someone with more authority than intelligence would give me some idiotic directive and I’d want to discuss it or tell of a better way, but eventually the “boss” would say in THAT TONE “Mr. Wham, you ARE going to DO thus and so because I SAID SO.”
As a teen and in college, my standard answer to that statement was, politely, “Sir (no ‘ma’ams’ then) only TWO BEINGS in this ENTIRE UNIVERSE get what they want from me because he or she “SAID SO” and you don’t have long pretty blonde hair and a massive C-Section scar on your bellybutton so you obviously aren’t my mama and you don’t have whip marks on your back and nail scars in the palms of your hands so you obviously aren’t Jesus Christ either ;therefore, I guess you are just S.O.L, n’est pas?” That would usually be the end of my tenure at that establishment.
I’m not proud of being a raging jackass. I was young, high-strung, quite hot-headed, and, most of all, really pissed off at just about every authority figure I came across. As a buddy of mine once put it, I had “a bad case of red ass at the world.” It was not a good time to be me but I couldn’t find anyone else to take the position.
When I started my first teaching job though, I knew I’d HAVE to be politic and tactful because of parents and principals, etc, but I figured in a school — a professional environment — I wouldn’t have to deal with the rank stupidity from above like I’d had to endure at my “starter jobs.”
I was wrong. I was SERIOUSLY wrong and being so wrong was to cost me a price I’d never been expecting nor could I be prepared to pay.
I found out early in that first teaching position the daily stress was about ten times more than anything I’d ever dealt with before, PLUS I got married to Budge with all the stress (happy stress, but still) of being a new husband. One thing led to another and I ended up on meds. That helped . . . a little. Still, I got by because I ADORED what I was doing. It was all I’d ever wanted to do. I never had a problem with a student or a parent last more than one phone call.
Well, at least not until the end.
I have neither the time nor the strength to go into all the details but some in very brief strokes, things I said got twisted, a witch hunt ensued, and I ended up with a principal — who I really liked and had gotten along well with — and a deputy superintendent buttonholing me in a small office and saying that whole “Mr. Wham YOU WILL . . . BECAUSE I SAID SO!” For the first time in my life, I managed to bite back THE STANDARD ANSWER. Fat lot of good it did me. I found out that right or wrong doesn’t make much difference to a school board. Obedient and insubordinate are the only things they concern themselves much with. I was too naive to realize that the matter was settled before I got to my car that last day.
Anyway, halfway through the “hearing” I saw the handwriting upon the wall and, unlike Belshazzar, I knew what it said so before the final gavel fell, I dropped my desperately maintained professional demeanor, went directly to my Gray Court redneck roots and by the time I left that chamber EVERYONE knew my side as well as what THE STANDARD ANSWER was.
I’ve been in my share of fights, verbal and physical, and I’ve toted my share of butt-whippings and always came back for more but NO ONE ever managed to break my spirit. They managed — in spades. I left that chamber with a broken spirit. That was eight years ago this last October 23. Budge and Mama both will tell you I’ve never recovered.
I did find out what was wrong with me though. I got so out of it that I ended up going to see a psychiatrist and a psychologist and for the first time ever, I didn’t lie to them. Turns out, I have a wonderful invasion of not one, not two, but THREE little demons ripping at my mind. I have severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder, a Borderline Personality Disorder, AND Chronic Recurrent Dysthymia Disorder (basically Manic Depression, but without the ‘Manic’ part). I go more in to detail about my demons in other parts of GS Feet so I’m not going to do a full explanation here, but a short version is I am nervous as a chihuahua on meth, I DO NOT play well with authority, it is nearly impossible for me to be tactful to people I don’t like (and that’s a long and growing list), BUT I feel really, really bad about it all so I lie in bed curled up in the fetal position for a day or two at a time.
So, what does all this have to do with the idea of me getting off my fat, lazy rump roast and getting a job? Well, I threw myself into my last position as a librarian with all the zeal of a new religious convert and I was jam up and jelly tight at that job. For four years I took care of my teachers like they were princesses, my principal like she was a goddess, and my students like they were actual real people instead of the little heathens so many of the teachers accused them of being. I had some minor run-ins with the upper echelons of power, mostly because of my propensity for asking forgiveness rather than begging permission, but nothing irreparable or even serious.
Or so I thought.
But, the cuts started coming hard and fast and I found out two Decembers ago that I wasn’t coming back as a librarian. Instead, another librarian in the district was taking my place and even though she had 2o+ years as a librarian . . . well, I’m not getting into all that mess right now. This post is epic enough as it is. Suffice it to say that I didn’t take my demotion well. I saw it — through my BPD clouded eyes — as a personal affront to everything I stood for and a slap in the face at four years of slavish devotion.
It also brought back horrible memories of the last time I’d poured my heart and soul into a school only to have nine years of slavish devotion and loyalty end in a deathly quiet chamber with nine stern, but uncaring, faces staring at me. I got upset and, to put it mildly, I had a total meltdown. I said some things to some people in high places that I DO NOT REGRET, but that, in retrospect, made it really easy to cut me when the time came. Those people are the ones responsible for giving me references when I apply for any other professional position as a teacher or a librarian.
Now I know they can’t legally blast me on paper. You can get sued for doing that. Still, we all know that there’s the reference on file with CERRA and then there’s the reference that goes out in the phone call between principals where one says to the other, “So, tell me about Mr. Wham.” Want to take any guesses how that one probably goes? With cuts all over, the positions are like drops of water on asphalt — not many around and they don’t last long. After that friendly phone call, no one wants to hire a nut case, no matter how good he is at his job.
Obedience vs. insubordination.
So now the handful of you know WAY more about me than you probably ever wanted to, but I’ve learned that compulsive confession and a tendency to share too much information about oneself too quickly are both indicators of Borderline Personality Disorder. So there’s that.
Anyway, if you made it this far, thanks for reading, I hope I didn’t scare the two of you off, and if you know of any good ways to make money from home, I’d love to hear them. I’d prefer they be legal, but at this point, beggars can’t be choosers!
So, love y’all. Hope you come back and remember . . . keep the feet clean!
Mr. Feet—keep your head up and keep on keeping on in the fight! I really enjoy your writing and know that God will show you His path for you (—now THAT authority you need to listen to, ya hear???:):)