Monday, March 10, 2008
Everyday Kindness: Happy News and Unclaimed Baggage
Well – it’s Everyday Kindness Sunday on Monday. Work and storms and power outages took time away from me, not to mention losing an hour of sleep. But hell – “time is only linear for referees and engineers” says Craig Ferguson. If you want a great read get his book – “Between the Bridge and the River”.
Mia is doing so much better. The meds are working; her sneezing turned to a little wheezing and now I can actually hear her purr, and her eyes are getting clearer every day. She met Siren twice, through a screen door, and it was mostly staring and being a big bully on his part and lots of hissing and growling on her part – whichever cat is hissing is the one who is feeling vulnerable so that’s going to need some work. And she is eating!! Woo-Hoo! Fatter and stronger = the better to deal with Siren.
Remember “walking woman” and “creepy guy walking his dogs”? She’s the lovely lady who is struggling to get healthier by walking around the neighborhood each evening and he’s the gentleman who really isn’t so creepy once you stop and talk to him/his dogs. He used to make “walking woman” nervous and she avoided him, then she decided to say Hi and befriend the dogs.
Well! – Last night I stopped at the diner on my way home from giant-ass retail store job and … as I waited for my tuna melt to go … what do I see? …
“Walking woman” and “creepy guy” at a booth, having coffee and pie, and laughing up a storm! I know! Budding romance perhaps? Certainly a lovely friendship. She looked positively radiant and he looked 10 years younger. I hid behind the cake display (fitting) – I really didn’t want to interrupt what looked like a delicious moment.
Bobbie turned me on to this interesting and worthwhile site. Please take a moment to check it out.
Every Human Has Rights
Originally this next saga was going to be Monday’s post. It was to be titled “I Think I Did it for Myself”. I would love to know what everyone/anyone thinks.
I started back to work at my sometimes second job – I’m a sales associate for a pretty good quality albeit snooty brand in a very large retail store. I originally took the job thinking I could work enough hours to make a bit of extra money and qualify for health insurance – my self-employed insurance premiums have reached $800 a month for not so good coverage. In November, on Black Friday (poetic ain’t it), I ended up in the ER being told stuff like “cat scratch fever”, “blood clot that goes to your heart and kills you” and my favorite – “didn’t this look dangerous to you!”
Siren had bitten me, as he has a million times before, a few days earlier. I cleaned the bite site and went about my merry way. How this turned into my leg becoming purple and swelling to elephant like proportions no one can explain to me. I think I may be allergic to the filthy, unnatural fibers of the store’s carpeting. I was treated for a severe systemic infection and took some medical leave from the store. The infection kept coming back, the leg kept swelling back up and I was catapulted into a miserable cycle of doctors and tests. To keep my wits sharp the insurance ass-hats (homage to REH and his union guy) put me through daily phone calls and tons of chain letters all designed to make me want to die as soon as I pay the next premium. It seems I don’t get it – I’m supposed to pay for health insurance but I am not supposed to use health insurance.
I have Scoliosis
– I almost wrote suffer from scoliosis but that’s a momentary feeling. All through my childhood and early teens I took the curve of my back, the one hip higher than the other and the frequent pain as just one more sign that I was different – freakishly different. Children can be incredibly cruel and I heard all the hunchback jokes their lovely little minds could invent.
When I was 17 I discovered that my problem could have easily been corrected had my parents been parents and not the insane wolves I had come to accept. At 17 the surgery would be daunting and most likely not successful. I found a physical therapist who taught me exercises that helped strengthen and lengthen and I coped. Coping has always been my thing. I cope real good until I don’t. Then I am a spectacular pile of old issues, unclaimed baggage – fueled by rage and grief and trauma. Yes – I have a therapist.
Fast forward to last Monday at the big-ass retail store. I’m cleaning up the clearance shoe aisle when I hear – “Oh and that one is back, what was wrong with her?” – I recognize the voice as the troll who works the register at the adjoining department. I can’t see her, she can’t see me and I have no idea who she’s talking to. I tell myself not to be paranoid. “… and she’s working limited shifts, nice!” – “wish I could get special treatment” – “have you seen that hump on her back, and the way she walks” – “by the end of the day she looks like hell” – “if you’re that disabled don’t get a job like this” – “just expects special treatment” – and on and on and on.
I stopped hearing at some point. My face became hot (and it wasn’t a hot flash), my head was spinning and all I could hear was static noise. Thankfully a customer spoke to me and I re-entered current space and time. Hearing my voice made the troll shut up.
I spent the rest of that day going back and forth – capable, calm adult to heartbroken, confused child. The most disconcerting emotion was the rage just waiting to boil over. Vivid images of picking up the troll (she’s about 4’9”) and launching her ugly gray haired head through the plate glass door danced in my mind.
In the break room I apparently looked so miserable that a co-worker asked what had happened. I told her and was immediately sorry I had. “We’re going to HR right now” – “OK, then we’ll tell ** (my manager)” – “she’s a horrible person and someone needs to get rid of her”.
And there it was – I was the top item on someone else’s agenda. Again. Still. It was never about me, it was always how I could fix it for someone else. The eldest child who spent her entire childhood trying to be worthy and to care for her brothers and sister came back. She collided full on with the angry teen who almost killed the abusive father and I could barely breathe.
Isn’t therapy designed to get rid of this crap? Yes – I know - there is work to be done.
This insanity spilled into the next shift. Co-worker one, in her all about her concern, told two people and they told two people … When I arrived at my department the troll looked like she wanted to disappear into the carpet. “Hostile workplace” – “harassment” – “fair treatment of the disabled” intermingled with “we’ll finally get that bitch” – “my daughter wants her job” – “I’ve always hated her”.
HR gets wind of the hoopla. Funny – when you actually go to HR and openly, clearly ask for something they never react. Apparently the pathetic rumor mill is the way to get things done. They ask me what happened. They tell me they’re there for me. I sit in the office and overhear “corporate will love this” – “…hire someone at half the rate” – “one less senior”.
Look at how important I am in the larger scheme of things! Oh My – the power I posses.
I tap on the door and ask them why I’m still here. Nothing happened, I don’t know what the hell is going on and I have no issues – no agenda – put the forms away, set the hot line phone down. The confused, disappointed looks on their faces gave me my first good laugh in days.
The troll was in my direct line of vision all the long walk back to my department. As I got closer the fear on her face was so clear it was sad. All the wind out of her sails, all the concern about losing the job she’s had for 20 years was etched there and almost made the cruel bitch human. My intention was to just pass her by. The store’s collective attention span is that of a gnat and this would all soon be replaced by which department manager is screwing which girl in receiving.
“I guess you feel good now that I’m getting fired”.
Calm, kind adult and rage crazed teen join hands. “No, you’re not getting fired. I didn’t say a god damned thing to them, they care less about me than you do”. “But …, What …, Oh …” sputters the troll. “Wow you’re finally speechless” says combination me. “Maybe you’ll think twice next time, you’re a very hurtful person, you’re a fucking bitch”. “I didn’t mean anything, I just get to talking and …” - “I suppose you’ll use this against me forever now” – the troll looked so small and old.
“No”, says calm kind adult “it’s done, you have your own shit to live with”.
Rage filled teen did need the last word and this I’ll have to work on. “Fuck with me again and I’ll break you in two and stuff you in the compactor” says rage filled teen, in all her spectacular inability to heal.
A friend who really knows me thinks I did the right thing. My co-workers think I’m nuts.
I think they’re all right.
Be Kind Out There.