NOPE. BLOCKED.

Dear Piece of Shit Male,

I’ve known about you for a while. I am aware of the distant connection between you and me by relationship and unfortunately, I knew you might someday be released from incarceration.

Do they have free wifi in your halfway house? Are you guys bunking by sex offender tiers? Do Tier 1’s steer clear because you’re even worse than they are? I was kind of hoping that after distributing all of that child pornography that you would be advised to avoid the world wide web. Maybe they forgot to suggest that.

Allow me.

You really should stay the fuck away from me. Your local PD will get tired of every tip I leave about the felon who keeps trying to network with much younger people. Every time your I.P. hits something of mine, I’m reporting it. I’m sorry you didn’t get a warning – I’m afraid I’ve already started.

The good news is, now you know. You know that you will never have my respect. You know that it was wrong to find me.  And you know that I have no Google Fucking Plus circle for a sorry looking bitch with a mustache – I mean, really – can you look any MORE the goddamn part?!

Fuck your pervert ass very sincerely,

-@

P.C.C.

A Russian man with an intimidatingly large build walked up to me this week. There was something about how he always looked mad, like some evil Russian movie villain, that suggested he meant serious business. And owned guns.

“You are absolutely gorgeous,” he said. Like he was pissed.

Dear Lord.

“Aw, thank you!” Please go away.

“Can I buy you dinner?”

“Nooo thank you! I’m..not. Hungry.”

“Do you have boyfriend?”

“Yes! He’s really great.”

“For how long, you be with this person.”

“Um, years now. Several years.”

“He buy you diamond? Where is big diamond?”

“Ohhh… well. I don’t. We’re not engaged.”

“He with beautiful woman for years and no diamond? This is wrong?”

“You know what? My girl Ternisha, just over there, I think she’s single!”

“Is she like you?”

“No, actually – I just thought it would be funny if you…went over there and. Bugged. Her.”

Just before he gave up, he shook his head with every ounce of Disapproving Russian Man he had in him. And as eccentric as the whole thing was, I couldn’t help but look down at my hand… and wonder if something was wrong.

Of What Cannot Be Undone

It is so hard to be a good, consistent coach in someone else’s life. And it’s such a shame, that so many people grow up without any sort of coach at all.

I know a boy who was raised in poverty without a father. His mother’s boyfriend molested him but thankfully, that boy understood enough about right and wrong to have something done about it. He moved in with his sister soon after – and sometimes, still stays with her through difficult times.

He did not come in under the radar at work. People looked at him. Judged him. And if something was stolen, they had their suspicions. It had nothing to do with the fact that they knew anything about him or his past – to the contrary, it was that complete absence of relationship that bred awful accusations.

He used to work as a cook in a big chain bar and grill. One night the staff was messing with him and insisted he hit up some girl because she was allegedly easy. He went over and talked to her – and was promptly fired by management for it.

He has problems that I’ve never had. No social security card. Taxes and rebates and things, unfinished, not received. I gave him links from the state and told him to take one thing at a time. I helped him whenever I could. I told him who was his friend and who wasn’t. I explained that as natural as it came to him to sag his pants at work that it was at the cost of discussion. Any stupid little thing, and every major consequence.

Once I noticed a new scar on his face. He said his girlfriend had put it there. Another day he re-purchased a phone cord because the same person who’d slashed his face had taken scissors and cut the first one.

He came in one day, wearing torn clothing with odd black oil streaks. Said he had just come from an accident. He had been driving through an intersection in a bad place and caused a collision. Another person jumped out and tried to pull him from the car – but he ran….and came in to work in time for his shift, even though he was probably about to be sent home for not being in uniform. Meanwhile his vehicle was being impounded, creating another problem in the long line of problems this young man has faced trying to make it in this life.

I grabbed the key to the uniform closet. They had never even given him the correct shirt for his department but I found one in his size and pulled him into an enclosed corner of the store.

“I should just go. I gotta take care of shit.”

“No. This is what you do. Put this on and you get out there and perform like nothing is happening to you right now. You will walk around and act like you don’t have the wrong color pants on – likely no one will say anything because it’s about your attitude. Handle the rest, later.”

He showed up for work every day after that, wearing that shirt. He came in when staff was short. He stayed late when others called off. And because we had built trust, he always told me what the other people in his department was saying and doing. A top performer, his manager liked him.

“That ex-coworker’s sister was just in here. She wanted me to give her a free warranty on her product.”

“Please tell me you didn’t do that.”

“Naw I didn’t.” But there was a pause. “Could I have bought it for her?”

“Let me tell you something.” I explained why it was wrong and made him think about the awful situation you get in to when someone has you.

“She tried to use you. And she would try to use you again, threatening to tell someone about the first time you did her a favor. That’s a terrible place to be. Don’t ruin your career. None of this stupid shit in here is worth what you have right now.”

“You’re right. You’re always right.”

A good job. Plenty of hours. I was proud of him. Everything was going so well. He made good decisions…until recently. When he took a wrong turn.

And threw it all away.

For a beautiful young girl who came in and sat down in front of him. He worked on her phone while they flirted. Says she looked Arabic, with beautiful features. A sweet voice. He held on to that phone number he’d worked on – but hadn’t asked for it. And because he was too insecure to tell her who he was, he texted her anonymously.

That little girl’s parents found out. The company found out. What was a careless game to him was actually a breach in confidentiality and information protection. Flirting was stalking. And fucking around has most definitely cost him. Everything.

Now I’m trying to get him to hustle and find something else. Helping him with a resume, checking in, doing whatever I can. He hurt the company’s image, he hurt me, and he hurt himself – but he still needs help. And no one knows like I do, how none of the stupid shit is worth losing what’s so much more important.

The Way Of the Fall

Image

 

It’s the end of summer and we recently celebrated the days to come by burning a giant stake that held our home’s real estate sign. After we purchased the house and no one came to pick it up, we removed it from the ground ourselves and it stayed in the garage for quite some time. The garage slowly filled up with clutter so one adrenaline rush later I demanded that we FIX SH!T (which we did).  Coming across that sign and finally dealing with it using fire was symbolic to me… heat, creation, destruction, blah blah blah – and all of the good similarities to great American novels.

I actually did have a moment when I looked at the realty sign flat on the cement floor, surrounded by trash piles and dirt being swept, and it made me think about how the strongest, most important things hang in a balance that can so easily be thrown off.

You could grab one big trash bag and just throw everything away, cleaning house.

…Like It’s A Bad Thing

With some careful timing I was able to have my difficult interactions with the non-inclusive co-workers while management was within sight and earshot. I let them demonstrate their behavior and I supported my claims. While I thought that would be enough, I learned a most disappointing thing about killing with kindness: no one actually dies.

“I’ll get you another lead today! Like I’ve always given mine to you. Because I thought we were cool. Maybe it will help you decide what to think about me,” I hinted, setting the stage for a different approach. I let my knowledge of their gossiping brew for a while as I soaked in their awkward laughter.

Then I just walked over and asked what the fuck their problem was.

But I did not expect to hear the answer.

“You make me feel stupid every time I open my mouth. I get that you have to be a hard ass in asset protection. And it’s nothing about what you do or what you say. I mean, you can be politer sometimes-“

Just then I felt my brain take a hard left turn. I was fighting – fighting so hard when this person obviously thought that I was the rude one –

POLITER’S NOT A WORD. SAY IT. SAY IT.

NO! TUNE BACK IN. IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE STAMMERING.

SAY IT. THEY MUST LEARN.

IT’S NOT. A. BIG. DEAL.

TRAVESTY! TRAVESTY! FIX THIS STREET SWEEPING LINGO.

“What, um, more…polite?” I managed to ask.

As they continued and I went on to apologize, I understood why someone didn’t like me. While I may never have intend to make them feel stupid,

There clearly were problems with what I was thinking.

And These Are the Words We Say

We’re following the leader, the leader, the leader

we’re following the leader

wherever he may go

Why haven’t I written the one thing that I’ve been asking myself, lately? What’s next?

It’s incredible to look back and remember when just about any job posting looked good enough.

I have a secret at work. It has been an odd source of motivation to consider something new. Rapport can be a fragile thing. But nothing is as feeble as the lack of one. Ever spent your entire day hoping that you wouldn’t have any reason to interact with someone else?

Hundreds of days ago, while at the whim of all things new, Someone decided how they felt about me.  And I watched, unbeknownst to them, all the days that followed. I waded through uncomfortable conversation as I said something and they ignored me or replied curtly. I saw their uncaring gaze when they spoke and everyone around them turned in my direction.

Gossip. Questions Someone wants to ask but never does, among other things.

Our culture took a turn for the worst when the company responded to financial crisis with excessive training. Staffing and operations changed immediately. Although there are the many reasons why the new business strategy was for the best, it was the worst thing that could possibly be done to the employees – ironically, according to their own management training that still exists in the curriculum.

As I moved through two lateral positions, the noise grew quieter. Sometimes people I didn’t know took the time to say hello. Others decided to judge me by my work, which I took seriously, and they showed their support. But no matter how many times people moved around or my work life was restructured, my little secret was always there.

So many times after Someone seemed to frown harder if they walked by me while I was laughing, I had to wonder: the little things they said, the tone they used – was it a complete lack of awareness, done on purpose, or some miserable, unfortunate mix of both?

tee dum, tee dee, a tiddlydoe-tee day

we’re out for fun

and this is the game we play

come on, join in

and sing your troubles away

I learned that Someone had not had an easy life, dealt with physical pain and mental stress every single day… and once I made that connection to their demeanor, I refrained from any sort of challenge. If not liking me for their own reasons was what they wanted or needed to do, that would have to be fine by me. And whenever I looked at Someone’s unsmiling face, I remembered how much I had in my life and checked my own posture.

More days, more situations, more words, more responsibilities, more days leading to today and I observe the same sort of behaviors, now being practiced in bigger numbers. My little secret likes to share itself with those they work close to and the other day, someone else was caught saying – “I don’t know what to think about Autumn” out loud, to a group of coworkers, as if I, as a person, was up for discussion – and decision.

The one in that group who actually knew me – who I help, protect and value, answered the open-ended question.

“Autumn’s fucking awesome!”

It has been hard to look for a job somewhere else when I know how much more work there is to be done right where I am.