This will be the twelfth entry of TRSD.
The first that’s actually non-fiction.
Potentially non-fiction, at any rate.
And it’s not a funny-way-that-I-meet-my-demise entry like the other TRSD, which are really just the nonsense synaptic equivalent of watching someone fall down while ice skating .
I’ve been watching the last part of the second season of The West Wing today. I’m sure the statute of limitations on spoilers is up, so I can say without fear of retribution that Mrs. Landingham dying, watching President Bartlet deal with coming out about his MS and then the cliffhanger question of “Will you be seeking a second term?” ending of this season wrecks me every damned time I watch it. As a matter of fact, knowing what’s going to happen makes it emotionally more devastating to me because you start watching the things that go on beforehand and they just make it more intense.
So, I’ve been ugly crying on my couch a lot today.
At a TV program.
Like some dumb jerk with misplaced emotional attachments.
And then I read on the Facebook an update from a casual friend of mine that he was shaving off his Pride-inspired rainbow flag hairdo to commemorate the end of Pride month. His update was beautiful. It inspired me. It was thought provoking.
He talked about how cognizant he had been of his own trepidations in becoming a visibly representative member of the LGBTQ community. How it impacted his behaviors while he wore his rainbow ‘do.
I skipped this Pride.
I skip a lot of them, actually. It’s just not my scene. Not because it’s too anything specific. I don’t go to the Rose Festival Parade, either. I guess I don’t like large crowds is the best way to describe it.
But beneath that, well…is what I think is a Red Shirt worthy fear.
I went to last year’s Pride because I felt like I owed it to my community to be a part of the strength of our numbers in the long shadow cast over 2016’s Pride month by the Pulse Nightclub shooting last year.
This year, I returned to my curmudgeonly avoidance. Once a decade is enough for me. Not only because of my normal preference to avoid big crowds. Also in part because of that Red Shirt worthy fear I mentioned earlier. For the last six weeks or so, I’ve been on a sharper than normal edge. I feared – realistically feared – that Pride was under a more than usual target. It wasn’t something I felt compelled to be involved with. I worried as I worked the day away that checking my phone was going to present me with unwanted terrible news. Actually, I had been feeling that simmering trepidation for each of the weekends preceding PDX Pride on the 18th while Pride was celebrated in cities around the country and around the world and once again on the following Sunday for my friends and chosen family celebrating in Seattle.
The text I got from my sister asking me if I was home that Sunday left me with a vague fear…worried that she was worried that I had been somewhere something bad had happened. Turns out, she and her family were in front of my house, assembling to march with the Portland Police Bureau in the parade.
That’s a whole different kind of fear, right there. One I thought maybe I dodged, not becoming a parent: fear of powerlessness for your loved ones’ safety. But, my brother in law has a leadership role with the police force, so march, they did.
And as Pride month comes to a close <knocks wood> I find myself relieved that we made it through the month without any major bullshit hate crimes or massacres against the LGBTQ community.
Relieved and surprised, truth be told.
I’ve kind of lost my faith that Americans can comport themselves in a manner that still respects people’s differences. It’s way heightened since November of last year, that’s for sure. That stupid, hate mongering cheeto has enabled a lot of small minded people through both his direct words and actions as well as by his visible inactions and silence…he didn’t even make an official Pride proclamation.
But today’s cathartic binge-watching has kind of helped me out of another funk I have been experiencing lately, too.
It seems I’ve been fighting this battle of dis-ease on multiple fronts this month.
First, a vague, random danger like with the MAX stabbings.
Then, the more general fear or danger of participating in a potentially targeted event like Pride or an Ariana Grande concert.
But lastly, a quite specific fear for my personal well-being after a surprise random verbal attack on my on my person at work.
It’s like a trifecta of potentially PTSD inducing bullshit.
Nearly four weeks ago, a fairly generic conversation about whether it was unrealistic of me to expect employees to check their work schedules weekly – it’s my responsibility to create the weekly schedule – ended abruptly and unbelievably when my peer at work got up, yelled, “Just do your fucking job!” at me and essentially stormed out of the office.
I can’t believe how close to home random violence and hatred hits sometimes.
I was flat out godsmacked (not in the heroin overdose-y way) at such a surprisingly violent and random outburst at work.
And my dis-ease at this final scenario has simmered and percolated over the course of the month simply because…nothing happened afterward.
No admission of wrongdoing.
No perfectly within reason – in my opinion – termination of my peer.
In the worst possible ending, he’s begun to just behave as if nothing happened.
Raise your hand if you know me.
<surveys crowd of raised hands>
“Um, I would guess that you, Homey, are not playing that?”
Homey ain’t playing.
Man, there’s some stuff from my upbringing. I was raised with morals. Standards of acceptable behavior. There were fucking nuns, ok? I learned some shit.
And, boy…did it stick with me.
Over the course of the two days that followed the…oh, let’s call it The Incident, shall we? Yeah, over the course of the next 48 hours, I tried to make it semi-safe, between silently seething on the inside, for my apparently festering wang of a co-worker to apologize or admit his error so that we could begin to get past it.
I tried a little levity and was rewarded with an eye roll.
I tried resetting my own attitude to neutral by walking in on day two with a chipper, “Good morning! How is everyone?” and was ignored.
Well, buddy, if you got a problem you need to make amends for…I’m not gonna work harder to resolve it than you are. Stick your hand in your pants. Anything? No? Maybe that’s the problem…he doesn’t have the balls to admit his wrong-doing.
But, that’s not my problem.
But maybe that’s not the actual problem. Maybe he’s convinced he hasn’t done anything wrong. And that obliviousness is a big red flag to me. On that flag is printed something like “Beware!”
If someone in my personal life fucks up that badly and compounds it with being too ignorant or self-entitled or childish to apologize to me then I’m gonna get out my social scissors and cut a bitch out of my life. End of story.
Not so at work. I gotta work with this jag, so I put on my big boy pants and go to work, tolerating his existence. It’s the best I can do. The best he could have done – apologize – is now off the table because, in my book…when you mess up, you gotta own it…quick. Ironically, I feel the same about counseling someone for poor performance at work, it needs to be immediate. Well, once we crossed over that 48 hour window, I couldn’t accept an apology as sincere. Actions speak louder than words, right? His actions weren’t anywhere near saying that he was sorry for his behavior.
But, wait! I’m not completely unreasonable.
Sure, you can’t sell me an apology, but you can at least acknowledge fault with me and I can muster up some forgiveness. Hell, in a professional environment, I may even let someone off the hook without subjecting them to a lecture on how they failed to meet my expectations or grilling them on how they are going to re-earn my trust so that I can feel secure in their assurance that it will not happen again.
I can be graceful.
I might trot out a “Well, that’s certainly not my fucking job” in the future to provide him with a good-natured poke, if our relationship happened to heal to that degree.
But in the ensuing near-month that has passed since The Incident all I’ve gotten was a couple weeks of silence and then some half assed attempts at getting me to tacitly agree with his apparent plan of pretending nothing happened.
Let’s just say that our office at Portland International Airport has been pretty well chilled during Portland’s recent minor heatwave.
Except – and this is what really reinforces that this whole thing is an epic shituation – for the dreams that have come in the wake of The Incident.
I was awakened when my dream turned into a scenario where my counterpart was storming toward me, yelling at me about an unresolved loose end that was his own responsibility. It was a crappy way to wake up. But it was also pretty demonstrative of the environment that I walked into with this job. There’s not a lot of accountability – internal or externally generated – with this fella. My boss’s early words to me were “He doesn’t work a lot of hours, but he always gets his work done”. Well, no…he doesn’t, he just gets away with not getting it done. The scenario in the dream he was yelling at me for is an actual situation that exists at work, and has for a few months. I went to work that day with a feeling of dread hanging over me because I had basically woken up with the certainty that this particular tiger wasn’t going to be changing his stripes.
That’s left my previous chill factor around the shituation behind and what I have now is an active feeling of dread…like I’m just waiting for the next unforeseeable occurrence. Unless something happens to guarantee there is a reason to not expect another incident, I think it’s not an entirely unreasonable fear.
At this point, though…his absence is the only thing that would provide that assurance for me.
With that notion kicking around my subconscious self, my next work dream was even worse.
The shituation had been resolved. My counterpart removed from the equation.
Did I mention he’s a hunter? No? Then I probably should. He just returned from a hunting trip to Africa where he went trophy hunting. Yeah, he’s one of those types. I guess I could have told him he needn’t apply extra effort into losing my respect for him outside of simply pursuing his “hobbies”.
So, my more recent work dream ends with me standing on the MAX platform at PDX feeling relief in the knowledge that my sense of personal security at work would once again be made whole.
Yeah, he shot me in the chest from the parking structure.
Y’know, all things being equal, I have to say given the scenarios that have made me feel so uncertain of my safety this past six weeks or so…I think I’d prefer to go out heroically, like the men who demonstrated what Portlanders are truly like. Sacrificing myself for the greater good, defending the defenseless.
Being blown up in a bar or sniped at a Pride Parade wouldn’t be that terrible…considering the legitimately decent buzz I would probably have I would presume I would be semi-oblivious to my being blown to oblivion.
But being taken out by a co-worker with an axe to grind? Man, do I need a job like that in my life? I acknowledged earlier that I know exactly what to do in my personal life with people like that…the money ain’t near good enough to make me compromise those values in my professional life. If I wanted that type of work environment, I could get a job as a prison guard in Les Nessman’s jail.
But, I have to say, between West Wing and a great Facebook status update…this afternoon has been pretty cathartic. I’m inspired to be better. A better example of a life well lived. Instead of hiding on my couch with my values, I will challenge myself to participate in an actual life and let the trepidation I feel about my countrymen be a mental exercise versus a physical manifestation of the fear and discomfort our American culture engenders in me. If I do nothing, well…I’ve heard that is all a good man has to do to assure evil a triumph over good.
So, I gotta be present.
But I’m still starting season three of The West Wing tonight.