Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Beyond My Front Door 2

 For part one, go here I’ve already explained to you how much I hate having to go to the grocery store. I mostly hate it because we all have to do it, so you are thrown hodge-podge into a bunch of people that you have nothing in common with and who wouldn’t be there themselves unless they had to be. Well, I hate work for pretty much the same reasons. Of course, there are plenty of people that by fortune(or misfortune) of wealth or disability don’t have to do either, but I’m not one of them. Not that I want a disability, even if it means never having to work again. At least, I don't think I do. Let me preface this by saying that I believe we are all trapped in a society whose rules have been made by the wealthy and powerful elite. We are told that we should be proud to work ourselves to death and thank God for the opportunity to make someone else rich in the process, and so on. But the purpose of this is not to sound like a dorm room communist railing against the system, I just want you to be aware that I am aware of it, for all the good it does. I’m past the point of hoping for a revolution, because they all tend to peter out, or the winners become just like the regime they replaced. I only have two modes: anger or apathy, and when it comes to politics and world events, apathy wins out more often than not. It is sad that today it seems like people are so self destructive that they are finding new and convoluted ways to be stupid and vote against their own best interests. The human race has a death wish, but like all things, they can’t even get something as simple as that right. Some people have a hard time getting up and out of bed when the alarm goes off in the morning. They lie there, staring at the ceiling, aghast that it is again time to get in the shower and prepare for another soul crushing day of labor. As with most things, I am much more advanced than that. I usually start dreading the next day of work as I am leaving work the day before. All night(or weekend, God forbid) before, my brain silently keeps track of the hours until I need to get up and go back to my place of employment. It doesn’t matter what I am doing, my brain is always ticking away the minutes, counting down until it’s time to go back to work, like some efficient and shitty doomsday clock. Work is a lot like high school. You had to go there, and you were stuck in a place with a limited selection of people to choose from for your friends. Not that you couldn’t luck out and find some people you would actually hang out with if you weren’t forced to do it, but mostly you just picked a few people that you could tolerate for whatever amount of time you were locked in a room with them. The other option was if you happened to fit in with some clique, the cooler the better. Fitting into an uncool clique was better than having no friends in some ways, but it also made for bullying on a wholesale level. Whereas a lone loser might disappear into the crowd and evade misery for a bit, the group of losers was easy picking. Either by picking off the lame and weak one by one, or driving the whole herd over a cliff or into a Canyon, like the indians did with buffalo. In case you’re too dense to figure it out by this narrative, I was not one of the cool kids. When you get older, you come to realize that the cool kids were very insecure and picked on the smart or unique kids because they were jealous or intimidated. At least that’s the version we nerds tell ourselves. I did know a couple of kids that were some of the real outcast weirdos, and they didn’t care at all. I envied them, because they wore their oddities like a badge, and they seemed so together and above it all. Now that I am older, I kind of have that mindset, and I realize that it doesn’t really make things a whole lot better, but it does keep most of the idiots away from you, so that’s a plus. They seem to resent you even more, and it is fun watching these morons try to get to you the way jerks did in high school and wonder why it isn’t working anymore. There is some satisfaction watching one of these cretins wander back to their hole like an ocelot with a faceful of porcupine quills. Yes, an ocelot, you bunch of Mutual Of Omaha's Wild Kingdom ignoring assholes. Maybe if you spent more time watching educational TV you would know what I’m talking about and our president wouldn’t be an ego-driven lout with subpar intelligence and the temperament of a five year old. The one thing that brings me comfort when it comes to most of the “winners” in high school is that high school was usually their peak, and now when they get home from work at the car lot or Denny’s, they wonder what happened and how it all went wrong. Not all of them came to such disappointing ends, and we’ll get back to those assholes in a bit. Like all things that involve leaving my house, driving is involved. Nothing is quite as infuriating as driving, which I have talked about before. I could swear that people are dispatched along my route, and as soon as one slow moving troglodyte turns off the road, another one pulls out up ahead to take their place. Like some horrible tag-team relay race where the object is to come in last. I don’t understand why anyone would drive below the posted speed limit. Drive as fast as is legally allowed, and faster if there are no cops around. It’s like extra strength pain relievers. Why would you ever want regular strength aspirin or whatever? “Hmm, I’m looking to get rid of most of my headache, but I still want some pain lingering there.” Whenever I’m behind someone driving extra slow on a secondary or back road, it always seems to be a Subaru. Unless it’s someone that can’t afford an actual Subaru, and is driving some stripped down, base model, cheapest available SUV, perhaps a KIA. Whatever it is, it will have a bike rack on the back, and a roof rack. I assume they are driving slow because they are scouting future sites to go trail riding, or kayaking, or mountain climbing, or spelunking. I am basing that solely on television ads for the aforementioned vehicles, where young hipsters in love, or young hipsters with families where the kids can’t watch TV or have gluten, or some slightly older hipster with a senior dog, is looking to explore the lost corners of America in their hipster car. Never mind that there are no lost corners left, and they aren’t discovering anything, and most of the time they are probably left with the feeling of “is that all there is?” as they trudge back to their car and curse the ad campaign that made them believe that they might find meaning in the woods somewhere. You’re not getting to Walden in a Subaru, my friend. Well, you can in fact get to Walden in a Subaru, but the thing that made it Thoreau’s Walden is long gone. I’m sure that the owners of these slow moving hunks of metal hardly get off their couch, and in fact only use their cars to go get fast food or crappy consumer goods. I base this mostly on the fact that many of them love to participate in 5k runs. They are 5k runs because that is shorter than a 5 mile run, which would probably kill most Americans. 5k is actually 3.1 miles, and it’s funny that the United States as a whole rejects the metric system entirely, except if it cuts two miles off of their run. “Run” is a misnomer also, as almost none of the participants are doing anything resembling running in the slightest. “5k wander” or “5k trudge” is more accurate. Personally, I am hoping that “5k death marches” become a thing, but like most of my dreams, I am not too optimistic. Yes, the road is full of idiots, and to illustrate my point I will explain the most annoying of all things driving. Allow me to set the scene for you. You are driving along, on the highway or perhaps a secondary road. You are coming up on a hill, or a slight bend in the road, but traffic is moving smoothly and all seems okay for a change. Suddenly, due to an elevation change or the aforementioned curve in the road, the sun is directly in your eyes. Now surely everyone is aware that we are on a planet, locked in a heliocentric orbit, which means that the sun is going to appear in the sky at some point or another. Alas, that is not the case, because everyone in front of you will slam on their brakes, and proceed very slowly, apparently completely forgetting about the existence of sun visors or sunglasses. Perhaps it is some evolutionary throwback to caveman days, when our primitive brain was in awe of the sun god that decided to appear in the sky for another day. So you have a whole line of cars, blocking the roadway while their dimwitted drivers flail their arms and squint into the sun. I really don’t understand this, because I wear sunglasses at all times if I am outdoors. Anything that keeps less light, and therefore less sight of the horrors of this world from entering my eyes, the better. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention bicycles in our driving discussion. The only thing worse than the SUV’s are bicycles. Somewhere along the way people got this crazy notion that pedestrians and bicycle riders have the right of way. The several ton weight difference begs to differ, but by all means, continue to ride down the center line like you own the road, or along a twisty backroad with no shoulder whatsoever. I especially love when there is a whole pack of cyclists, taking up the whole lane, with their aerodynamic helmets and freshly shaved arms and legs, like they are getting ready to compete in the Tour de France, but are most likely going to Starbucks to add back whatever calories they burned with some horrible coffee topped with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, and an oversized muffin. Hey, they earned it! Okay, I’m done cataloging some of the suicide inducing obstacles involved in getting to work, and ready to delve into the suicide inducing obstacles actually encountered at work. Just walking into the building is soul crushing. I usually arrive with no time to spare, but on the rare occasion that I get there a few minutes early, I sit in my car and try to resist the urge to flee. It is an interesting matter of perspective that I think it’s ridiculous how employers will have time clocks and keep track of every minute you miss, yet I refuse to enter the building early and give them even one free minute of my life. Oh who cares? They’re wrong and that’s that. Like most people, I hate introspection that reveals that I might be even slightly wrong. So if I decide to actually go into the building … I will pause here and talk about the fact that there have been times that I’ve been on the way to work and turned around and went back home and called in sick. I haven’t yet done it once in the parking lot, but I’ve come close. Oddly enough, on a couple of occasions I have come in, sat down at my desk, then decide to go home, but those days I was actually sick. No, usually deciding to bag work after you’ve already left the house involves lots of complex calculations on just how many sick and/or personal days you have left, and what other things you might want to take off for in the future. If it’s been a particularly rough year already, you might be figuring out if you can deal without a day’s pay this week. More often than not, you wind up finding that you’ve arrived at the parking lot at work while you were lost in your intense thought process and now you just resign yourself to the fact that you’re here already and should just go in. So I enter the building and try to make it to my desk without being accosted by idiot coworkers. Like I said, it’s high school all over again as you are forced to be somewhere with people you did not choose to be around. And they all want to know how your night/weekend was since they last saw you, regardless of the fact that 99% of the time nothing of note happened in the least. Usually they are just asking you because they did some God-awful, mind-numbing activity that they want to tell you about, and they aren’t going to wait around for you to ask. So even as you are responding that nothing much happened and trying to extricate yourself from the situation, they launch into a story about how they went to see Rod Stewart or planted a garden, or God forbid, drove to the woods in their SUV. I already bought my coffee on the way to work, so I can bypass that whole congregation point in the breakroom entirely. Just what I want, over-caffeinated people, revved up and ready to talk to me about shit I could care less about. People sometimes wonder why so many will spend so much extra on coffee from Starbucks or wherever, and while some might need it for the drive in or the convenience, I think a lot of them are like me, willing to spend the extra money to save some of their sanity and miss out on more bonding moments with idiots. I’m sure there is some evolutionary comparison between neanderthals and modern humans and living on a hill as opposed to a flood plain here, but I am much too lazy to make it. Leave the neanderthals and their large brows to themselves around the coffee maker. 99.7% shared DNA does not a human make. Ask a chimp who clocks in at about 98.8% about it, and see what kind of a response you get. Once at my desk, I can get to work, or more importantly I can get to looking like I am working. A building full of employees, all pretending to be busy and put upon by the demands of their jobs. Meanwhile, echoes from coal miners and preteen factory workers through the ages scoff at our idea of a full work day. At the same time, the fetid spirits of ancient robber barons bemoan the eight hour workday, and the fact that modern man lives to collect his pension. Invariably, your superiors will descend on you to ensure that you are giving it all you can. They are basically performing their own charade of looking busy for their bosses, but they get to do it by belittling other people. Do you recall when I said to remember the “winners” from high school, and I would be getting back to those assholes? Well, most of the ones that didn’t flame out in their early 20’s became your boss. They are still douchebags, and now they think that they’ve been given some kind of referendum to act like it. They are encouraged to crack the whip, and use whatever means necessary to get those nerds and sad sacks to be productive. So once again, most people that were part of the faceless crowd in high school are again part of it in some horrible, cosmic joke. Forced to trudge to work everyday, only to remain under the yoke of oppression of lesser clods by people they recognize from their traumatic adolescent years. Some people adopt a shiny, happy veneer to help cope, and they fervently tell you that it’s not so bad and that’s how life goes and turn that frown upside down, but it is all a vain attempt to talk themselves into living a life that makes no sense to them, and to drown out the horrified voices in their heads that never agreed to this until they are dead enough inside to keep going. I could further go on to talk about how a whole branch of the pharmaceutical complex has gotten rich off of supplying drugs meant to make it possible for the population to sit in a cubicle and perform their repetitive tasks and get the job done. I could, but I don’t really care. I am not part of the herd, a member of the tribe, looking out for the rest. I am a lone outsider, scurrying along the fringe and scavenging my meals. I never wanted to belong to any club or group outside of Columbia House, and even then I feel I got ripped off in the end. The 12 albums for a penny seems too good to be true, but forget to send a couple of cards back declining the month’s selection and you soon fell behind for Tina Turner or Cher albums you never wanted. Yes, lumping yourself in with the crowd is like paying for horrible music you will never listen to. I care too much about myself to live like that. Even worse than the bosses or the break room or the incessant hum of fluorescent lights and your drab cubicle walls is the projects they assign you. Mostly because these projects involve interaction with coworkers, and not in the same manner where they tell you about some great new fast food place while on break. No, you will have to actually work with them, or depend on them for data or reports. It really drives home how much better you are at your job, or just breathing, when you have to team up with another human being. You think that you have seen the depths of stupidity, the lowest levels of common sense someone can possess and still manage to feed themselves, then you get saddled with a slack-jawed coworker and are astounded all over again. Even if you had high hopes for your project, even if you were determined to do a stellar job and show upper management what you are capable of, it will soon dissolve into a race to just get the bare minimum done so the nightmare can end. It turns out that most workers are deadweight. If you find that you seem to be getting more responsibilities, that bosses are using you as a go between with the cannon fodder that is the workforce, you are most likely reasonably intelligent and feel at least a vague commitment to your employers. Congratulations! Your life is about to become a whole lot worse! It is now easier for your boss just to assign everything to you rather than try to explain it to some uncaring moron and risk having it blow up in their face. You will watch as your workload increases and the other workers are exempted from doing anything complex or important. It is like evolution in reverse, and like most things in life, your better qualities are rewarded with more aggravation. So while everyone else leaves at five, laughing it up on the way to happy hour, you are stuck trying to complete some stupid thing that you know is probably not going to make any difference at all, but you still feel like you should do a good job because …. Well, you’re probably not sure of an exact reason. Usually just a dull needling from some strong work ethic drilled into you by your ancestors that basically marks you as a sap. Thanks, granddad! If you manage to make it through the morning, you get to go to lunch. Usually you can’t wait for lunch, but once you get to eat and head back to the office, you are even more miserable than before, not to mention sleepy. It was like a taste of freedom to make the afternoon worse. Speaking of making the afternoon worse, sometimes I occasionally stop at McDonald’s or some other fast food place if I’m in a hurry. I know what you’re thinking, if I’m so fucking smart, why am I eating garbage? Just because I’m smart doesn’t mean I want to live any longer than I have to. Please afford me the same luxury as you as far as killing myself by ingesting the same poison foodstuffs you partake in. Everyone always expects other people to be better than they are, which is just horrible and explains a lot about the human race. There are a million things I hate about fast food drive thrus, especially McDonald’s. First off, they have two screen ordering, and that only serves to mess up your order. I really don’t understand because usually whatever screen you are at displays the order of the people at the other ordering point. Then there are the people in line. They pull up to the speaker, and then scan the menu like they suddenly forgot what they sell at McDonald’s. It’s the same shit they always have, and if you pull into the drive thru without a clear idea what you want to eat, it should be legal to shoot you, assasination style and push your car out of line. Even after they order, people tend to leave huge gaps in between them and the other cars in line. People can’t pull up and place their orders, while these idiots sit in blissful ignorance of the world around them. If you want to see how self-absorbed people really are, go through the McDonald’s drive thru at lunch time. The thing that really bothers me most about the McDonald’s drive thru is the people working the windows. Most people I know complain about the disinterested teenage workers, that seem to care less about their job. That’s what I basically expect when I go to one of these places. What bothers me is that now you have middle aged or older people working there, because they can’t find a job in their chosen field because most of those jobs don’t exist in America anymore. The problem is, they still have that older person work mentality, and they are striving to do a really good job, so they are extra attentive, and go out of their way to be super pleasant. They talk constantly, they hang halfway out the window trying to put their all into a job that only requires about 10% of anyone’s actual output. They ask you how you are, they let you know your order will be right up, they announce the contents of the bag as they hand it to you, and they have to yell after you that “the straw is in the bag!” while you are driving the hell away from that nightmare scenario. It doesn’t bother me because they are exuberant and attentive, it bothers me that these poor people obviously have a great work ethic, and are trying their best, but they are stuck working in a job that they really shouldn’t have to work at by this point in their life. The country has let them down, the system is broken and the people that are supposed to be representing them are instead watching out for the rich and wealthy. At any rate, having them serve me crappy food from the window on the side of a building makes me sad and angry, and it should probably do the same for you. The only good thing about the afternoon is that most of the people in the building have just stopped trying. They are just ready for the day to end. They want to go home, because home seems so much better than here. Ironically, many of these same people feel the same way about work once they get home. They start to look at work as a reprieve from family life, and so the circle is complete. They spend their lives shuffling back and forth between one dull ache and another, not sure how their lives ended up this way. This is all blended together in one of the most wretched ideas ever conceived: Casual Friday. The intent is to make work seem fun, if your idea of fun is wearing slightly more comfortable clothes. I usually try to make the most out of it. One of my favorite shirts is a black t-shirt with white letters that simply says "misanthrope" on it. Sometimes people will ask me what it means and I'll just say "I hate you" and they seem taken aback, but they don't understand that I've simply answered their question. That makes me hate them more. I haven’t yet had the balls to wear this shirt to work, mostly because I think it will cause more trouble than it is worth. What I do wear is the loudest, most tasteless flowered shirts I can find, with cargo shorts and sandals. I look like something someone from a Jimmy Buffet concert puked up. I do it just to try to showcase the absurdity of it all, but oddly enough it has made me somehow more respected and well liked around the office. Instead of being a faceless part of the tribe, I am now becoming some sort of tribal leader, and that is not at all what I’m going for. People have started dressing like me, asking me if I'm a “Parrothead”, and inviting me to after work hangouts at TGI Friday or Ruby Tuesday and such. Like that is going to happen. These are people that I would never willingly hang out with. I really hate them all. Although, Jerry really wants me to go, and I know he’s been down since his wife left him. I kind of feel bad for him. And Mary in accounting has been sending me evites all week, she keeps telling me that she really wants to talk about some things and needs advice, and values my opinion. God knows, she could really use some life coaching. Her boyfriend is a lout, and her mother needs to stop meddling in her life. Oh my God! Why do I even care? I can’t stand any of them, I really can’t. Sigh. I wonder if they’ll let me into Applebees with my misanthrope shirt on?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Excerpt From A Ghost's Diary, Part 5

For part one, go here

For part two, go here

For part three, go here

For part four, go here

March 3, 2007
Spring is coming, I guess.  You don’t really feel the weather when you’re dead.  You get a sense of it from the what people are wearing and doing, but you never know for sure.  Like when it’s sunny and blue skies, but there’s still a wind blowing and chill in the air.  
You don’t get that weird sensation when you’re a spirit.  To you, that day must be warm, because it looks warm.  Then you suddenly notice that people are wearing jackets and long sleeves, and you realize that you’ve been fooled again.  You feel a little kinship with the folks you see in shorts or t-shirts, that didn’t check the weather before leaving the house, and just assumed, like you did, that it was warm out.  You see them shiver a little, and rub their arms, but they try to be nonchalant about it because they don’t want to draw attention to the fact that they messed up.
People worry about the silliest things.  Ghosts don’t care what you think of them, for the most part.  We are too wrapped up in our own misery, or we know you can’t see us anyway, so why bother?  So the world and it’s seasons go on for the living, and meanwhile, no matter how warm it may be, we spirits never lose this otherworldly chill that is our constant companion as we yearn to feel warm just one more time.

March 17, 2007
Today is St. Patrick’s Day.  Parades are everywhere, and most of the world seems drunk.  I guess people will use any excuse to unwind, and why shouldn’t they?  A lot of them overdo it on this day, though.  Then there is fighting, yelling, violence, and vomiting.  
Many things that start off as an opportunity for a good time often descend into chaos and regret.  I don’t know if it is because people have so much anger and resentment stored up inside and it all comes out the minute we let our guard down, or if we are all just bad drunks.  Maybe that’s the same thing.  I’m not even sure if St. Patrick’s Day is a holy day or just an excuse for a party.   
At any rate, Saint or not, I see an awful lot of people vomiting, and that’s unpleasant, even if you’re dead.

April 24, 2007
As a ghost, you really have nothing much to do but drift through the world and observe.  Perhaps that’s our punishment.  Or maybe it’s a reward, I can’t say.  Whatever it is, it surely gives you perspective.  
As you drift pass the population, you can’t help but notice how many of them are anxious and stressed out.  They are deep in thought if they are alone, brow furrowed, sighing heavily, muscles twitching with nervous tics.  If they are with others, many times they are acting the same way I just described when they are alone, oblivious to those that love them, who are looking on in quiet desperation, wishing they could help.  More likely, their loved ones are sitting across the table in the same state, furrowed brow and twitching along with them.  
Sometimes these agitated people are with friends discussing what is upsetting them, but it always seems to result in the same outcomes.  Either the other person listens dutifully, just waiting for them to finish so they can list their own problems.  Or the other person then offers their take on what’s going on, and the person with the worries thanks them and continues to worry and stress anyway.
Once you are dead though, you realize that a lot of the interactions with others over most of the things you tie yourself up in knots over doesn’t matter in the least.  Most of us just can’t help ourselves, we want drama and misery in our lives because it makes us feel like we matter and it gets us attention.  Not to say that no one has real problems of course, yet the fact remains that  we know the solutions to most of our dilemmas, but where is the fun in that? We must draw them out, poke at them over and over, examine them from every angle multiple times.
So we go on, fretting our lives away in a vain attempt to be noticed and told that it will all be alright, all the while surrounded by wisps of people that were once just like you, and now have no way of telling you what a waste of time and energy it was.