A little hope, even hopeless hope, never hurt anybody.-John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
Most followers of this page know the Message of the Crate; how Charlie was found starving in hers and was released, only to return to it when she was shown no better option. Well, at the time I found her, I was in confinement as well, but instead of plastic and steel, mine was constructed of a 401k, four weeks vacation and a company car.
My incarceration was commuted to “time served” after 27 years, and I was driven home in my own crate, unceremoniously dumped out on my front yard, and swatted on my nose with my termination papers. When Mom came home from work that night, she noticed the car was missing; had I parked it behind the Casa?
Was it in the shop?
You got canned!
Her response: THANK GOD!!!
That experience was a combined sensation of a body blow to the spleen and of a boot being removed from my neck. This involuntary freedom has allowed Charlie and I to make several cross country trips, Arkansas to California, north to the Canadian, then south to the Mexican borders, Colorado, New Mexico, North Carolina, Idaho, Utah, even the Bonneville Salt Flats. It has also given me the inestimable honor of having time to spend serving He Who Must Be Obeyed, the Jude Bear.
But it also gave me the opportunity to shovel gravel, push concrete, deliver cars, work for the Census, do construction, clear brush in the dead of summer anything to make a dollah. For someone unemployed, I’ve never worked harder, but at least I can go to sleep on Sunday night without fretting about what korporate kulture was going to throw at me on Monday morning.
During this time I started a home inspection business. In an effort to build this business, I would get up at 0400, drive Lyft or Uber until 0900 when the realtors began to show up for their sales meetings, then resume the ride sharing gig in the afternoon. If you want a job that simultaneously makes you appreciate and despise humanity, try your hand at ridesharing; for every person that uses it as a means to get by, there’s another that uses it to be, well, a user.
Of course, I had a blast with it. Some may look at having someone in the car as a paycheck, I tended to look at them as a captive audience. I began to entertain myself by messing with their heads. I had more than one rider convinced that my other source of income was that of a dancer at a club called Shorty’s, and that the reason that they had never heard of it was that the club catered to a more “seasoned” demographic. And why would I want to do that? Well, since you ask, a clientele over a certain age has more of a tendency towards dementia and Alzheimers, and as such, forgets that they have already tipped,.So if I played my hand correctly, voila, double tips! Oh, and what was my stage name? Since I couldn’t afford to buy a policeman, firefighter, or biker outfit, I had to make do with a bedsheet and a towel to wrap around my head, hence my alter-ego was that of “Mohammed Hoosyurdadi, Lord of the Dessert”. The response of one lady when hearing this story?
“Lawd, let me outta this car”.
It is my fervent desire that I told this story enough times that it has spawned an urban legend, and someday I will hear rumors of a seedy club down on 2nd and Cumberland where advancing age is not despised but celebrated, and I will know that my work here on earth is complete. And if you doubt this story, I have one such encounter recorded on my phone; after playing it for mom, she just stared at me in pity and disbelief. Her only comment as she turned away: “you desperately need help.”
Then Covid hit, and everything, the jobs, the meeting with realtors to build the home inspection business, etc, came screeching to a halt; talk about bad timing. But things always seem to work out in the end; if it’s not working out, then it can’t be the end.
If I had known at 45 that at 55 I would have my corporate safety net repossessed and confiscated, I would have probably have just stroked out and died from history’s worst recorded anxiety attack. But it always seems that by the time that we all get to it, whatever “it” happens to be, we are provided with the skills to get through it. Worry is interest paid on a note that’s not yet due, but hope is sometimes the only currency the bank will accept. Then when hope bears fruit, as it always does, it transforms into credit as faith; if you made it through once, you can make it through again. And again.
In the meantime, I can still be found nightly on stage at Shorty’s; see you there, and don’t forget to tip your waiter.
We be of one blood, ye and I.