What was initially awkward about it was that she had quit me with no notice because her doctor told her her legs couldn’t handle it. She told me she’d really only worked sit down style jobs before.
“You were a bartender!”, I had corrected her at the time, incredulously.
“Yeah, but that was only part time. And at The Elks”, she had replied, like The Elks was a stand-alone explanation.
I’d written it off as relative at the time. I really liked Kim, she reminded me simultaneously not to judge a book by its cover and that stereotypes exist for a reason. That was Kim.
Mrs. Magoo glasses.
Bowl style haircut.
She was a middle aged transplant to Portland from Spokane.
Take your pick.
She moved away from Spokane for her internet fiancé. Fuck my life…should this boost my romantic optimism?
Anyway, I run into her in the roadway under the airport at about 5 am. She was just getting off work, I was just starting.
Innocently, I ask how she’s doing and express my surprise at seeing her. Instead of the conversational default response one expects to off the cuff, reflexive social niceties, Kim gives me a longform response.
I guess that I – particularly – had that coming.
She was back to work, ground crew for one of the airlines. Nights, it was hard, but it worked with her and her fiancés parenting schedule.
“Wait, your doctor wouldn’t let you work in a newsstand but now you’re working ground crew?”
I had both knees replaced!
“Wait, wait, wait. Parenting?!? Knees replaced?!? It’s only been 6 months!”
She and her also middle aged fiancé had adopted or were in the process of adopting a 6 year old relative of his. They had also moved out of his parents house. I mean, mid-50s is probably the right time to venture out of the nest, if ever there was one.
She was going on about how she was looking forward to getting onto the day shift, but not until school started and she was going to have either her hips or ankles done.
…and tune back in as she says, “but now my doctor wants me to wait to do that until after they take out the brain tumor” like it’s y’know, somehow an elective surgery.
I had to get away from this surreal conversation.
I walked away thinking, “How does she not put a gun in her mouth?!?” It was really inspiring to think on. Kim took over as my workday inspiration.
Late in life love and parenting.
Entry-entry level physical grunt work.
Oh, and a brain tumor.
If she can do it, I can do it!
For the moment, “If Britney can make it through 2007, I can make it through today” took a backseat to my new battlecry of “Tim Kimke!” which was a mash up of her actual name.
It was really kind of the motivational push that I needed. Britney’s breakdown was only getting me so far. I was also reaching back to when I worked with a peer that was a real B-word in my mid 20s-30s.
I was stubborn.
That stubbornness was manifesting itself in longevity in a job that didn’t deserve my efforts. But I was learning a lot, while simultaneously refusing to walk away from a bad company where I had a boss I liked.
But he was weak and didn’t reign in my counterpart.
Nonetheless, I stayed, refusing to leave before she did because to me it sent the message that she won.
It was kinda fucked up.
My payback was that I was learning how to really manage. Succeeding through my people, versus calling what I could accomplish with my own two hands success. That kept me motivated whenever I crossed paths with my backstabbing peer.
But, I was recruited away by a former peer and I took a leap. It’s actually where I met my current boss, even though we only worked together tangentially at the time.
Flash forward 15 or so years.
I’m doing good work, feeling like I make an impact everyday…of course, there’s a but coming.
My boss is weak, but I like him. But that’s not enough. He’s afraid of being the bad guy.
Since last summer, I’ve been stringing up carrots to get me through the bullshit that weakness has manifested:
Make it to your year anniversary.
Make it to bonus payout.
Make it to review time.
Well, the other day, I found myself thinking, “Only 11 more months til bonus payout” and that was a wake up call.
I’d doubled my tenure since work got shitty, I’d spent as much time dreading my job as I’d spent loving it. The writing was on the wall, too. Things weren’t going to change…just like my boss’ poor people management skills created the dysfunctional environment I was spending my time in, his boss was further enabling it by refusing to take action when measureable company policies were broken or violated.
You just need to learn to get along…maybe I heard that one too many times.
Looking back, once turned out to be too many. The writing was on the wall, but I had to hear that damn phrase a few more times before I saw it.
Then I turned in my notice and basically fired my employer.
Time to reset.
Because I stuck with it as long as I did, I’ve got the foreseeable future covered in cash:
Forgoing vacations allowed me to bank some PTO to ice the bonus cake I’d waited out. Believe me, I’m gonna make every penny scream. If you wanna enjoy my therapeutic free time with me, of course, you can treat!
I’m gonna write again. No more of these weeks without content or publishing. That bullshit ends.
And tomorrow, I’m going to brunch and then a hike like a normal Portlander does on a weekend.