Saturday, 31 May 2008
Face to Ass with the Past
Mate and I were at the registers at the bookstore tonight. This in itself was unremarkable, considering that both of us are obsessed with bookstores and that our combined obsessions require our presence at some bookstore or other at least once a week-- even on vacations. I am not on vacation. I just haven't worked in over four years due to the car accident I'd had while on a lunch break at Running Sores, my last odious human servitude employer.
I walked past her backside. She was at the register closest to the exit. I sighed inwardly. I had no desire to say hello to this particular witch daughter of Abraham, chronically unhappy woman boss of the bosses. Her smoldering coal-colored eyes were concentrated on the associate as she was handed her own purchase in a crisp green package with gold words on it. I noted her hair, still the color of the darkest charcoal but now with a sprinkling of a gray storm sky. She held herself the same way as I remembered-- stiffly. Her torso gave way to her chunky rear end a bit too soon as her spine suddenly ran out of space. A certain indentation at the boundary of back and posterior was missing. She didn't see me or was doing an excellent job of pretending not to see me. I found that I did not want her to recognize me. A rash of swear words sprang to my throat. I held them back with the gravest of difficulty.
Mate was dawdling. I swept past both mate and my former adversary and sprang out the door to freedom. I continued my deliberate breakaway to the dark burgundy mundaneness of mate's car. As we drove away, I saw her getting into her own fiery steel machine. I did not deign to offer another glance. After all, two can play that game of non-recognition. Strangers. We were strangers after all and perhaps always had been.
The memories came crashing back. Boss of the Airhead boss, chronically unhappy woman with short practical fingernails that belied her poisoned fangs and a way of being. It was she, witch daughter of Abraham who didn't give two shits when my grandmother lay dieing in the sterile hospital room but who expected me to sympathize with her on the loss of a fat spoiled pet dog with which I had no natural or unnatural bond. It was she who had insisted on those dreaded Monday morning meetings weekly. Under the guise of concern about my performance as the house manager of a residence with three permanent staff out of a slotted twelve and thirty six on-calls filling out the difference, she harangued me over things like someone being two hours late on a Saturday. That particular on-call knew she was supposed to be there at six. That particular on-call sauntered in at eight, claiming that was when I had told her to be there. Obviously, I was the one who had to held accountable. There was no question about that. The on-call woman could not lie, would not lie. It was I who was responsible for all of it. Never mind that in spite of the chaos of scheduling staff, my people got to go out into the community and got to go on vacations.
I had just come from the hospital that morning. I was at the hospital every morning, every evening after work and sometimes dropped in at night. I had to make the end-of-life decisions for my beloved grandmother that my aunt turned out to be incapable of. I fought with the doctor who wanted to give her a C-T scan for cancer of the lung-- what treatment did he reasonable expect to be able to offer a ninety two year old woman even if it came back positive? I fought with a cousin who thought that a shot of B-12 would fix her right as rain. I fought with the nurses about the necessity of the morphine pump and the futility of a feeding tube.
My grandmother was screaming through the morphine that particular Monday morning about not wanting to live anymore with such physical pain. I informed the boss of the boss that I didn't give a shit about the on-call woman being two hours late on a Saturday under my current circumstances. I walked out. Back at the house, she called me on the phone and sent me home for a week with pay. I didn't want to not work that week. She said it was her last inch of compassion and me going home would eliminate the necessity of her gossiping about me. "I don't care if you talk about me," I told her bluntly after having screamed at her on the wireless phone in the parking lot of the residence about the fact that I didn't fucking care about staff being late on a Saturday with my gram in the hospital and all of that. "You do anyways," I said. "So what?" She was angry. I was angrier. My day staffer-- one of three permanent staff-- hid in the medication room, saying nothing much at all to me as I hurled the phone back onto its stupid black receiver and left.
Returning to work the following week, my gram died on that Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend. I left work, curtly informing the Airhead boss over the phone of the one hole in the schedule that Saturday and would she please take care of it. She didn't. The following Tuesday, the boss of the Airhead boss, chronically unhappy bitch harangued me about that hole in the schedule. "I told the Airhead about it before I left. I had to leave. My grandmother had just died." The chronically unhappy bitch witch daughter of Abraham raised her eyes slightly at the Airhead boss. True to form, the Airhead boss did not admit her own lack of responsibility that day. No surprises there.
When the Airhead boss ran into me at a gas station several months after the accident, I deliberately turned my back on her and walked away. "Don't turn away from me," she yelled after me. Bloody hell, she had turned her back on me. Which was worse I could not tell. The pretend recognition by the Airhead boss or the cold iciness of the bitch boss of bosses. I've had to decide not to care as I bit back the curses that waited for both of them. It hurt too much-- this loss of my career coupled with the insulting demeanor of the professional helpers over at VESID sucks.
I was not blameless. The two of them-- the witch boss of bosses chronically unhappy woman with her snooty way of being and the Airhead boss who was resentful because I would not go out drinking with her and the rest of her underlings my co-managers of group homes-- knew there was a problem but they were picking on me about the wrong problem. I was burnt out. I needed a change, a different job, a new start. I resisted that knowledge. I took out my hostility at Running Sores with the computer that suddenly appeared in the medication room one day. I spent hours on that computer instead of balancing the residents' money ledger or attending inane meetings at their various day programs. I'd send my day staffer to the meetings instead-- instinctively knowing that she would take over the reins of leadership for that house when I would be gone-- and I would kick back with a diet soda and the computer. The techie who was responsible for the running of the computer network failed to install any safeguards against what staff might do with a house computer. On that computer I learned things that I could not admit to anyone at Running Sores. It was not the staff scheduling that I should have been in trouble for. My real sin was left unnoticed. When pangs of guilt hit me, I would go to the local office supply shop and purchase another ream of printer paper to replace the paper purchased by Running Sores that I was using at a furious rate to print out my latest discoveries.
We had made an unholy triad during the last year of my employ at Running Sores. The witch bitch boss of bosses and the Airhead boss and I could not see eye to eye about much of anything at all. It was madness, this intricate dance of ours. It is madness still that in spite of everything, there are days when I want to go back to working at Running Sores. This madness should not be a surprise. Even the VESID sucks literature on-line admits that those of us with traumatic brain injuries may need a return visit to the last job as a way of excising the demons that insist that what we previously knew could still work, would still work. The nice man who did my neuropsych testing wrote in his report that I may need to be reassigned at Running Sores and that VESID sucks should provide me a job coach. VESID sucks would do no such thing. It was the shrink who saw that I was incapable of returning to the madhouse of Running Sores, even without knowing of the details of my last year there. I am glad that the shrink is familiar with the machinations of traumatic brain injury, that he could see what I could not see and cannot admit to even now.
"Doing more of what doesn't work doesn't work," is what I remind myself of ala Nathaniel Branden on an almost daily basis. I cannot bring myself to be civil to the various bosses of Running Sores on chance meetings at a bookstore or a gas station. I am flunking out of VESID sucks due partly to my own twisted hostile hotheadedness caused by my traumatic brain injury. I remain unemployed and unemployable. As yet I cannot forgive the players at Running Sores for being human. Can I forgive myself?
sapphoq on life