Monday, 9 January 2017

Shit happens

December 15th, 2016

Today was officially the last day of a 10 year social services career. It ended quietly, perhaps fittingly the way it should have; just me and one client. The other one who is usually there had committed himself earlier in the week; hallucinating and hearing voices. He will return next week, a change in his meds and the side effects that go with it. I'm glad I'm not there for that. Instead me and the other guy spend my last shift going to the mall, grabbing some snacks and watching TV until shift change.

It was a good time, basically just baby-sitting a young-at-heart adult. He's a funny guy and our running joke was "I want my two dollars", a line from Better Off Dead I kept throwing at him because I bought him a coffee the night before and I knew full well he would not ever pay me back. I showed him this clip on youtube so he'd better understand why I kept saying that to him.

Now, nobody ever pays a care aide worker back, except in the occasional back-handed compliment like 'I could never do the job you do'. That's bullshit. Anybody can do the job I do, much like anyone can do the job you do, if they chose to want to do it. I don't kid myself, what I do isn't rocket science or political espionage. It was simply trying to make someone's life better for a few hours a day. Often, whose life you were trying to make better wasn't the person you thought it was. Every job I've been in I've been told never to lend money or buy something for a client, much less buy them something expecting it to paid back. But sometimes, the best thing I could do for them (and my own sense of self) was to reach into my own pocket and buy them a coffee or a burger. That is the only real words of wisdom I can say I learned after 10 years.

So I told my last client it was my last day and he was surprised and not surprised. Nobody had told him and I was asked not to so that the clients wouldn't be affected negatively. I don't understand that reasoning as the turnover is so high these clients continually have a revolving door of new staff coming in and out of their lives. May as well let them have some closure. Some workers give up, thinking they can make a change and finding they can't so go to live the dream elsewhere. Others, bitter ones like myself, know we can't do a thing about their lives. Shit happens and life goes on.

And so it goes, shit happens and I am moving on.

I remember this one defining moment, about six months ago at a different home, a different company. I arrived to start the first of three nights, my usual shift of 11pm to 8am, in the care home which had become my home away from home. I was nearing 4.5 years with this company, about 3.5 years of nights at this house, home of four men who lacked any means of communication, mobility and dignity. I liked the night shift as it was quiet, I worked alone, had plenty of time to write or read or studied (I began to moonlight/daylight as a mortgage broker although when I started I hoped it would be the other way around). I even spent a  couple of months playing PS3 as I avoided writing.

Anyways, I opened the door and immediately smelled feces, or 'BM' as we referred to it, as if shortening the word bowel movement took the stigma out of what it actually was; shit, poop, turd, crap, excrement. I smelled shit. And because I have become an expert on shit and its various forms, smells, consistencies etc I knew this particular odor was from the guy I shall call Jeremy. Jeremy is on a feed tube, which means we plug him into a bag of beige liquid which goes into a hole in his stomach slowly throughout the day. Every day he gets a fleet, which basically makes him shit the beige liquid out. Sometimes I wondered why we just didn't put the beige liquid directly into the toilet, eliminating the middle man.

So I walked through the house to Jeremy's room and opened the door. The FIRST thing I see is Jeremy's shit-covered ass, the good ol' one brown eye staring at me like some HP Lovecraft creation. His legs wee being held up by one staff so the shit wouldn't get on Jeremy's bedding. Another staff was wiping his ass with those little wet wipes you use on baby bottoms or dusting the inside of your car. She wiped a little shit off Jer's ass, threw it in the wastebasket, repeated the process.

I could see Jeremy's head up, looking at me in the doorway. I remembered laughing at this sight, Jer and his shit-covered unblinking asshole staring at me. I think I even said to the two staff I was about to replace for the night, "I have to get out of this job."

But I didn't. I sucked it up for a few more months. I needed the guaranteed paycheck the job gave me. So I had to clean up a few asses every night for three nights a week. I took note of who had what kind of shit or pissed themselves and logged it into a book that was never checked. If I was lucky, I only had to deal with urine on some nights, which has another type of universal smell that will never be forgotten.

And then I got that little push. I was fired. Ironically, for nothing that I should have been fired for. And I will admit there were definitely things I did I should have been fired for but I'm going to keep those specific confessions to myself.

I was just trying to make it my holidays, have a month off and quit on my terms. I didn't get to do that which sucks, as will anyone who has ever been fired will tell you but so be it - shit happens. I challenged our manager over a dryer hose I offered to fix. Instead, she threw everything but the truth at me (which she didn't know) in a meeting with our executive director. They threw out a working dryer because the dryer hose was wrecked (which is what I pointed out). In the end I was fired for admitting I wore ear buds at work sometimes and apparently told someone it was okay to leave a client's guard rails down, which was an outright lie. But the earplugs, they felt this meant it impeded my ability to change diapers, do laundry and prep the next day's supper.

My union wanted to know if I wanted to grieve my firing. They wanted to know if I really wanted to return to that house, to get paid $18 hour to change diapers for basically four economic units that are kept alive only so they can chew down a mixture of brand-name pharmaceutical pills four times a day and the Company can bill the necessary agency for all that they do to keep them breathing and pooping and living valuable lives.

Did I want to keep the job? The one that made me miss half my weekends with my kids, the one that found me being tucked into bed at 8.30 am by my 4 then 5 then 6 year old? The one that made me chronically tired? The one that gave me an opportunity to write near everything I've done over the last four years? No, I was done. I was given 24 hours to sign the papers saying I agreed to a small buy-out and to not discuss what happened which is why I am not using the company's name in this blog.

But again, I digress. I didn't want to keep this job centered around shit. So, in this strange road I'm on, I'm not, finding some fruition in the financial world. But it seems a bit tenuous at best right now, as if at any minute I'm going to be told this was all a large misunderstanding. Maybe that day will be tomorrow, maybe the next.

But until then, shit will always happen. It just happens but at least I'm finally not the the one doing the wiping.


Saturday, 22 October 2016

On reaching 730,000 'viewers'

This is the opening sentence which is supposed to hook you and make you read on. It should be click-baity or something. Maybe have 'you won't believe what happens next' as the title.

So I'm going to throw a number at you and you won't believe what happens next.


That's how many times my articles on the Internet have been viewed.

At least. Don't know how many were robots or people but even if it was 50-50, that is a pretty impressive number.

My books/short stories have been downloaded by 600 plus people via smashwords or kindle for their ereaders or cell phones. Technology. However, I have to clear a couple thousand ebooks or old-fashioned paper books on Amazon before I'd see a royalty check but I'm not in it for the money, although that would be nice.

After this blog post is published, one of you lucky bastards will be my 40,000th reader to this blog alone.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

A Real Letter From An Underemployed Me, 2004

- I found this in the draft folder of an old email account. Its a mass email I sent out to all my old contacts/friends at the time bFB (before Facebook). Some of you who read this may still remember it because I do some name-dropping in it when I was a DGC locations assistant. I find reading it sort of funny if you are into that sort of thing. 

And this was apparently before it was okay to only have 1 space after a period as I'm double-spacing every sentence. 

Thanks, public education. 

Friday, 2 September 2016

Wedding Day Memories

It took nearly 45 years to truly dedicate myself heart and soul to someone, someone I've known for only 8 years but hasn't aged a day in her spirit. Someone who has shown me that I am more than what I believed, someone who has chosen to believe in me and our future together. It's been a hard yet fun road to this point with her and near every day I should remind myself this is real.

We have our fights but they don't change how we feel about each other. One bad sentence in a story won't change the ending. Jaime chose me to start a family, I chose her to raise one with me. As I watch my beautiful daughter and my two sons, all with such large personalities I am forever grateful I have her to share these memories with me.

Sure, we made some mistakes in the planning, nothing was as simple as we hoped but yet it nothing mattered to us. No ice for the beer? My bad, but no longer my problem. It's starting to rain? No problem. You can't find our kids? Not our problem. We didn't write out our thank you list? Oops, our bad. We meant no offense if we forgot anyone. No coffee for the morning after? Shit - we'll run down to the store to grab some 7 AM Sunday morning.

Personally, I felt I wrote a killer speech, thanking a lot of individuals for helping me make it to this day. I am sort of glad I didn't have it - I doubt I could have gotten past the first two people before my voice would break up and everyone would be staring at me as I'm losing my shit, crying like a baby. Someone once said it is only okay for a man to cry if he lost the big game or if his dog dies. I think publicly thanking his friends should be up there too. But I did get to thank a lot of people individually. Some left before I got to them and that sucked. Some I didn't get to thank until the next morning. But I was able to thank them for not only being part of our day, but also being part of my life. For so many to come so far and I only a spent a few quality minutes with them, it made me realize again why I have always considered them my closest friends, even if I hadn't seen them for years.

So life will move on. It is hard to believe it has nearly been a week already but things are just starting to get back to normal. Everyone has left, we've gone back to school shopping and barring a few wedding decorations needing a home, it is almost as if last week was a dream.

A crazy, beautiful dream. Thank you for being a part of it. Thank you to Jaime Royston, love of my life, even if it took a few years.


Saturday, 30 July 2016

Work in Progress - Stephen Spielberg Vs. The Academy V1

For the interested, and on some days readers are more interested in my blog than others - this is an ongoing article on how I write a blog. This is after I have an idea but before I hit 'publish' on the sidebar. 

Writing is an interesting craft. I can't think of any other form where you spend hours/weeks/years building something (your story) then when you are done you think 'Fuck, this is awesome' and rush out to try to convince everyone to read it immediately. 

Then when you look at it six months later you wonder what the hell you were thinking. It's crap. You spelled something wrong, your main character would never walk with a limp or wear a Metallica T-shirt.

So that's why I draft. Then I wait. Then I go through it again. Other artists probably just start over. I've never heard of a painting reclaimed by an artist because it was missing a tree or something, or a music album recalled because one song really sucked and the songwriter wanted to change a word or verse.

I am probably oversimplifying. I don't know other artists or writers methods. I just know what I feel I am supposed to do. 

So here is the first draft of my idea for an article that looks at the Biggest Player in Hollywood (Steven Spielberg) and his fight to be recognized as a 'serious' auteur by the Motion Picture Academy which annually presents the Oscars with much pomp and publicity.