He Who Stayed
My father taught me two lessons: how to tie my shoes and how to run away. I got stuck tying my shoes while he perfected how to run away. Whenever things got tough, he ran away. I resent that he could leave and return whenever he wanted.
One of his relatives always says that life isn’t her fault. She churns out kids and drops them like abandoned puppies. Instead of birth control, she gets abortions. As a taxpayer, I have to pay for those abortions through my taxes. If I need health care, the queue gets a little longer because she in the line-up in front of me. She can get a human being hoovered out, but if I want some of my blubber sucked out it’s considered elective. Instead of cutting corners, she dodges her bills. I resent that everything about her. A life without birth control and one where I didn’t have to pay bills would be pretty sweet.
One guy got laid off, took his cheque and turned it into a plane ticket overseas, rent be damned. He would also get welfare handouts that were not enough to pay rent-- because the money was too little to pay rent he’d use the money for drinking.
One guy tried to hire me on a while back. I described the matter as “a guppy trying to swallow a whale.” He was able to stop his corporate juggernaut (allbeit guppy-sized juggernaut) so that he could be sick. You don’t know what it’s like to think that if you’re not literally comatose you have to work. Humans need downtime. I often think I stay healthy because I cannot be sick, not because I am well. I think if I got cancer, I’d have to bring a laptop to chemo.
Websites always rattle apart. You’re making a computer open up to the world and it can’t trip or fall. I have to stay at watch. 24x7 coverage means 24x7 alertness. I have to be prepared to put the train back on the tracks no matter where I’m at. It means I cannot have a routine that doesn’t include being glued to the computer-- a Saturday morning in a kayak; or a Wednesday poker game; book a road-trip; I can’t even get drunk and nurse a hangover. Because computers are not capable of 100% uptime, I need to have 100% uptime. It’s merry-go-round I cannot get off of. I had to fight to not get interruptions during an educational conference. Those same people never do real constructive work themselves so they don’t know that interruptions derail progress. My capacity for progress and concentration is so shredded I cannot hold a train of thought longer than 30 seconds. But I am so used to being plugged into the machine to respond to threats that I get a little ill when I consider stepping away from the computer.
No matter what my skill level. I’m not a sysadmin. One sysadmin had all of these cryptic set-ups and no management put to the server. When he was off being a hipster and the server spazzed, I was “promoted”-- as if a pay-band bump up would create new knowledge that I was somehow holding back during the crisis. The same people who thought I could magically have new skills opted to use my business as an unofficial source of financing by telling me that past-due bills may get settled up after they age another month or more.
Some people are getting accolades and making $60/year from their massively successful project. When she’s fishing for dinner invites, it’s not because she wants fabulous dinner company; she needs someone to pay for her dinner. I have to make a profit right away or I’m sunk. When I try to build anything, I’m under pressure to complete it quickly, complete it alone, not spend money and earn money while I’m at it. If I didn’t have to earn money I could join the ranks of the dilettante superstars. If a scrubby crazy guy tells you wonderful things you recoil. If a clean-shaven hipster does the same, it has merit?
Regardless of my waistline and my hairline, women always applied me a heavy discount. I’m the surrogate brother, not the potential boyfriend. It's simply annoying. It’s an equal opportunity offense: one leery guy likes to size up trampy women and then turn to me and say, “She’d wreck you” just to turn the knife. Someone else unvited me from a bachelor party citing that “I’d get hurt.” When grown-up stuff happens, people think it’s better to leave me at the kid’s table. I see their reaction differently. It’s like chimps insisting on driving. If that seems disrespectful of others it’s reciprocal. I am not talking about jealousy or insecurity; this is about resentment. You think of me as the first person to discount and I think of you as confused aged children.
I don’t think I’m so much a human being as I am jell-o in the shape of a bucket. Considered soft and immobile but safe to dump stuff into. I am at an impasse: I cannot ask for respect. The best I can do is sulk and be placated. I can rage and be mollified. I am not respected and considered for my full value. The value seen of me is that I am the good one and I’m the one who takes it. The one who stays. That currency is confederate money.
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