Tag Archives: responsibility

The More Things Change…

I should probably go back a few of months (or a half-dozen posts), and verify this before I say it, but I hate what this industry does to me, and I’m not talking about writing. It’s not job-specific, as I would have to be a complete moron to speak ill of my current place of employment in anything other than plausibly deniable code, but rather my indictment of the restaurant industry. In many ways, it’s like a drug, something that I desperately want to give up, but seem inexorably drawn back towards. I know that it’s not good for me to work in a place like that, as the constant shifting between dead and slammed is a microcosm of the swirling madness within me. But, again, this isn’t what I’m actually getting at. I could probably find studies to back me up on my belief that this industry tends to draw the intelligent dropouts, drug addicts, and the mentally unstable, but, at the risk of repetition, not really what I’m getting at. I guess what makes this so hard for me is just how much of a damn I give. I’m always stressing out about things I need to do, and the little voice inside my head that’s freakishly insistent upon screaming out my flaws within the echo chamber of my skull spends every bus ride out to work making me feel like today will be the day that I will be let go. It’s not that I am negligent, or that I actually believe that I will be let go for anything approaching a valid reason. Of course, I’m still in my first 90 days, and employed in a “right-to-work” state, so there doesn’t have to be a reason. Maybe Bad Leon is right: perhaps I am a bad person.

Or it could be that I simply need to start back up on my medication. I keep saying that as long as I am not doing anything that requires creativity or inspiration, I might as well get my noggin back under control. Of course, my ability to think on my feet, and troubleshoot the worst catastrophes is a direct result of the way I’m drawn to harming myself psychologically. Anyone who’s capable of spending hours a day thinking up all the ways that he could irrevocably screw things up, is also capable of seeing the early warning signs of something which is about to hit the fan, and take action to prevent it, or at least ride the tsunami of excrement and minimize the damage along the way. Now that we’re a month into full operations, the plethora of variables have been winnowed away, and I’m starting to get a better handle on preventative worrying. I’ve seen how shifts run, and I’ve begun to identify the [I cannot use this word, for fear of its misinterpretation] in our armor. It’s a process. And of course, all this last paragraph has done has undermine the point I’d been trying to make about the benefits of being healthy.

I suppose that I could probably be fine if I took measures to ensure my health. I mean, it’s not like other people haven’t taken care of themselves before. And now we’re back to the major point, the reason why those suffering from mental illness almost pathologically refuse to take their medication: the feeling that, for all the reasonable benefits of getting one’s head on straight, the nagging doubt about that action’s worth. I know that I could probably do the normal stuff in my life much, much better if I got back on the Lithium. Hell, I’d probably even start to be a better dad: calmer, less likely to fly off the handle, more… stable. They say that kids need… crave… stability, right? I’d probably even be a better husband, without random days and weeks of inspiration sending me off to battle windmills instead of just buckling down and dedicating myself to the team that my wife and I have legally signed off upon. I mean, there are literally so many reasons to do it, and there are only two reasons not to. The first, and most practical, is that there seem to be ridiculously difficult-to-navigate hoops between myself and my medication. I could understand if there was a possibility that I might get high, or something similar, but I’m only looking to get back on Lithium, which is a damned element. Maybe I should just start sucking on a battery.

The second has no bearing on reality, and seems unbelievably petty and selfish: It makes me so damned boring that I cannot, even now, bear to contemplate it. Sure, I might not be a barrel of laughs, but at least I’m interesting. I’d like to imagine that whether they love or hate me, that people will at least remember me. Maybe that’s why I write. I know that my time drawing breath is, by necessity, limited (though it does tend to drag on a bit), but my words have the potential to preserve the most perfect aspects of myself for as long as they can be read. They will not feel pain, nor the weight of weariness, but will stand in steady testament to those times when I was able to surpass myself, and contribute something of beauty to the world. And then there’s the ego, which insists that I am worth remembering. And the hole in the shape of my self-esteem which assures me that I’m not. I should probably talk to a professional. I think that I am finally ready to seek a professional opinion without harboring the fear (or desire) to rip that person down over a perceived slight, or to simply show off how much more clever I am than the person who I am paying to wade through my issues. It almost feels that I am gradually approaching adulthood, but I know better. I know the steps I need to take, but I refuse to do anything about it because I don’t want to. As bad as it may ever get, I am terrified of losing who I am, and what that means for the tale I’ve told myself regarding the meaning of my life.

Jury Duty

For the third time since I moved to California, I was summoned for Jury Duty. The first time, I had to sit through an entire thing before most of us were dismissed for having heard of asbestos before. The last time I went, I wound up sitting around for a few hours before a judge came to tell us that all the potential cases had been dealt with, and that we were free to go. I was a little nervous going into today, because jury duty only pays $15/day, and though I’m not making that much more on my shifts at work, it’s still a shortfall. But here’s the thing: since I escaped my twenties, I’ve actually been interested in serving. I’d like to say that I was interested in looking out for the interests of the little guy, or even that I’ve finally accepted the necessity of performing one of my three civic duties. but honestly it comes down to the fact that I was on the debate team in high school, and am fascinated by the entire process. I just wish that the state would cough up at least minimum wage for my time, and that they’d pay for the first day. Not that it really matters, though. After sitting on my butt for a little over three hours, looking forward to the ninety minute lunch break wherein I would have to pretend that I wasn’t really hungry because I have no cash, we were informed that we were all being released for the day, thanked for our service, and reminded that we were now free of jury summons for at least another year.

Flor, of course, was livid. She’d already been upset that I’d had to turn down an extra shift at work so that I could discharge one of my civic duties (the others being voting and paying my taxes), and when she found out that it was literally for nothing, she erupted. Fun fact: according to my wife, there is no jury duty in Mexico. If you ever have to go to court, I guess it’s just the lawyers and the judge, which kind of terrifies me a bit. It’s way harder to get to twelve people (plus alternates) than it is to bribe one man (or woman). I tried to explain that for these cases, they needed to have us ready so that if they actually went to trial, we would be ready. It wasn’t our fault if there was a procedural issue that postponed the trial beyond the day of our selection. I mean, they can’t just call us in at the last minute and throw it all together. And in California, we’re on a One Day or One Trial system. That means that if we’re not selected for a jury on the day which we are required to report, we have fulfilled our obligations, and can put it out of our minds for another twelve months. If, however, we are selected for a jury, we must serve the duration of the trial. On the one hand, I’m grateful that I was sent home, as I don’t think that I could afford to only make $15/day, but on the other hand, I’m a little disappointed that I haven’t ever gotten to be a part of the process, except as a defendant.

This has got me wondering, though, if that means that I am a little weird. I mean, do I have some secret agenda? Is there a reason why I’d really like to be chosen to serve upon a jury? Aside from the point about my love of procedural litigation, I do believe that someone should be there to ponder the implications of the law, who is willing to push for nullification should the need arise. And grey areas are my bread and butter. Give me something straightforward, and I will sit and stare at it all day, confused by the fact that there are no hidden tricks just out of view, waiting to trip me up. But abstract questions, and ethics, and the convoluted wording of the written law are things which light me up like what I can only imagine joy must be for other, more normal people. Ask anyone who knows me in real life, and they will tell you (without much prompting) that I am always ready to jump into an argument, and that they would much rather concede whatever point we happen to be discussing, rather than face the possibility of arguing against me for another hour. They are college football players, used to a rapid succession of facts, and a clearly defined winner after an appropriate amount of time. I, on the other hand, am a cricketer through and through, as I am willing to go the distance, even if it might mean a match of wits measured better by days than hours (though my opponents would most rather prefer to measure them in minutes), confident enough in my abilities that I do not require clear criteria for victory, and count a win by default just as worthy as one won by skill. If I were a politician, you could call me Phil A. Buster, is what I’m trying to get at.

So I’ve done my duty this time around, and all that’s left will be to file my taxes and vote in the next election. I’d say that 2016 was going to be a busy year for me, what with having to worry about all three acts of participatory democracy, but I’m not all that worried about getting another summons. I mean, I didn’t even get a summons until I’d already been living here five years (which may have been due to the fact that I didn’t get a California ID card until the middle of November in 2005. The last time they sent me a notice was either two or three years ago, and then they just sent me one this year. Unless the rate of crime skyrockets in the coming three hundred and sixty-five, it’s not looking likely that I’ll have to go until, at the very least, 2017, and by then, I hope to be living comfortably in Mexico, where I’ve heard there is no jury duty. Not that they could summon me, even if they did have juries, as I won’t be seeking citizenship (unless this country finds a way to completely implode).

Huh. It’s a kind of bittersweet realization that this may have been my final chance to have served upon a jury.


I feel a rant coming on, brought about by a growing sense of irritation. The blood within my veins has begun to boil, and if I’m not careful, I’m going to blow my top. This has obvious advantages, of course, over the general state of listless melancholy in which I’ve been immersed for the past few… let’s say months. Anything to distract me from the handful of sand which is emptying itself rapidly into the bottom chamber. I’ve been forbidden by my wife from going into detail (she doesn’t want me starting a civil war within the confines of our tiny apartment), but let’s just say that I am at a loss for civil words when it comes to this. I don’t want to claim more credit than I’m due, or for that matter, even the credit which I may claim without exaggeration. But I have managed to be there for someone when he had nowhere else to turn (actually, a few people, but I’m focusing on just this one right now), and when I could use- no, not even a helping hand, simply the fulfillment of his obligations. Instead, I’m being treated to childish insolence and petty power games because it has been shown that I apparently do not hold the power to carry through on ultimatums.

In any other circumstance, he wouldn’t dare to do this. No other landlord would accept this level of disrespect, and yet there’s nothing I can do to remedy the situation because it’s all tied up in family politics. You can’t just bail on a lease with less than two days until the rent is due (no matter if the landlord has given a three-day grace period for payment), and say that you’re just “waiting to see what happens.” You want to leave? Fine. You let me know right now for next month and when that final date has come, you get the hell out of my house. I don’t care if you are an “also ran” upon the lease to which we all signed our names, you bear the same responsibility to this legal contract as the rest of us. If I told the landlord this very day that we were bailing on the place, there is not a chance in hell that we would get our deposit back (to which this person contributed absolutely nothing), and our landlord would be well within his rights to take legal action on the whole merry lot of us. And if we thought that we could wait until three days until after the rent was due, and have half a chance of leaving our stuff here while we were moving because some sort of baby situation had popped up, we would be financially responsible for a month of rent on an apartment we were leaving, and if we didn’t put the money up, our belongings would confiscated and sold off to defray the costs we had incurred.

I wish that I could say that I was going to be the adult with all of this, and help gently guide the next generation toward wisdom of their own, but I’m fairly pissed off about this whole ordeal, and sometimes scorched earth can be a learning moment. I’m probably just overreacting, or possibly not nearly enough: it’s hard to tell with passions running parallel with commercial airlines at cruising altitude. My wife was right when she told me that I’ve let people walk all over me. When I was the boss (at both locations) at my last job, I did my best to take care of everybody else first, and even put the good of the store before myself. I’d learned that style of management from people I’d admired, and seen firsthand the horrorshow that came from a lesser style. But those people have long since burned out (myself included), and what do they have to show for it? Grey hair, no hair, failing health, or a complete abandonment of that career. And yet that was the only option which I could have taken. Sure, I was fool, but at least I was an honorable fool.

And now I seem to be drowning in a sea of irritation. Everything these days seems to piss me off. I know I’ve mentioned that depression is just rage turned inward, but after weeks of beating the living crap out of myself, it’s nice to share the torment with others, especially when I’m right (which seems to be a rare occurrence these days). Both my wife and brother have barraged me with the same advice (with which I don’t know that I agree), and now it looks like I will have to swallow what little pride remains and follow the advice of another person. Which makes me doubly pleased to be able to come down with righteous fury on someone more deserving.

If I stopped to think about it, and to tried to be more reasonable, I suppose that I could find it within me to be slightly more accommodating. But, in addition to safeguarding my own family, I am still trying to help my grownup children learn life lessons they will need once they have left the nest. With us, the only true risk which they might face is a dressing down, But in the real world, there are consequences which cannot be ignored. I know this because the lesson was hammered into me during the excitement of my twenties. Back then, I was single and childless, and failure simply meant resetting the clock back another seven years. I have since tested my ability to cheat the inevitable (to surprising success- more than I’m sure that I have merited), but even those heady days are soon to pass. The next job which I take will be the last which I will work within the borders of the United States. I was hoping to have a little better luck with writing so that it might not come back to working for The Man, but it looks like my timing was off by a year or so.

Thank you for bearing with me, and I hope, at least, that I have been informative in my excoriations (I know that I feel better now). Have a good evening, everyone!

Here, have a picture of some stupid bird:

Pictured: Some Stupid Bird.
Pictured: Some Stupid Bird.