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Archive for the tag “work”

Like a Grocery Store Trout

trout png

Sometimes, we are handed a life.  Cleaned and cold, gutted, like a grocery store trout, bones in, with all the skin and scales still attached, knowing nothing of the frying pan, and hoping only to avoid the fire beneath.

This is how I think most of us exist.  Unaware of our surroundings, except what directly affects us, and that, only if we ever are in actual contact, and hopefully with the right combination of tastes and smells that allow all to forget that we, in the big picture, are really nothing more than the stink of low tide and death.

Pick a metaphor.  Sardines in a can.  Lemmings on a cliff.  The people of Soylent Green.  Fast forwarding our way to an inglorious end, unaware, for the most part, what we are speeding toward.  That end always in sight if we only think to look.

This was me, until it wasn’t anymore.

I work a job that, in the couple hundred times I’ve tried explaining it to folks over nearly a decade, defies description.  And it’s not even the job description that defies it.  It’s not the job of Freight Runner, Certified Forklift Operator, Warehouse Night Manager, Inventory Control Specialist, Bookkeeper, and Small Parcel Courier that confuses people, it’s how the job gets paid.

The bottom of bottom lines is, I am not an employee.  I am a contractor.  This means there is no salary, no hourly wage, no insurance and paid time off.  There is only the job, or NO job.  Pay, or NO pay.  Don’t come in?  Don’t come back.  Every day for the last 8 years, 8 months, 13 days, 23 hours, and a handful of minutes and seconds, I haven’t taken a day off that didn’t cost me in docked pay.  That includes two major surgeries, bookended weekdays around weekend getaways, sick days, dentist appointments, family birthdays, national holidays, you name it. 

If I took it, I ate that day’s pay.

This also includes regularly adding duties to the job description at no additional compensation, four double-shifts per week at one flat rate, hours worked for free one night a week, as well as… now THIS is where it gets interesting… back pay stolen by the third party job broker who held my contract with the warehouse, and finally, intermittent pay cuts, just to be allowed to keep my job.  All that, and however many hours I find between the cracks to write and publish two books, and maybe mix in a nap.  Then today, one more demand for me to spend another $500 for additional licensing and commercial insuring, just to keep my job.  As I write this, I have less than three weeks until I pay, or get out.

Sometimes, we are handed a life.  Cleaned and cold, gutted, like a grocery store trout, bones in, with all the skin and scales still attached, living in the false comfort of the frying pan, and hoping only to avoid the terror of the fire beneath.

On this day, I see the frying pan for what it is, and no longer fear the fire.

Today, I decided to get out.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

End of Shift

end-of-shift-pic

Counting down the minutes till

the end of shift

is a lot like counting down the

minutes till

the end of life. 

Except you know where you’re going

when your shift ends,

and how to get there. 

You’ve planned for it. 

You even have things

waiting for you for

when you arrive,

like macaroni and cheese

and a cold beer. 

Unlike the end of your life,

when you hope there’s

a nice place for you to settle into,

that the fridge is stocked with

all your favorite things,

and that the

building management isn’t blasting

‘70s pop songs from

the speakers in the elevator

headed for the basement,

where you know the air conditioning is

sketchy at best.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

The Accidental Prophet

the-prophet-chuck

“A wish is not a goal, and hope is not a plan.”

I have a friend, a very close friend, who says that whenever I speak of the future, I already know what’s going to happen.  One year.  Five years.  Ten.  Every step and every stage, all mapped out, in my head and then, into words.  Thoughtful.  Methodical.  Concise.

Except I swear that, every time it happens, I have no conscious idea that what I’ve just said is, in fact, a plan.

So unbelieving am I that, after my friend who hears recites my future future back to me, I am left scrunch-faced, my head shaking, saying, “What are you talking about?  That wasn’t a plan, that was just wishful thinking.”  And yet, in the two years of our friendship, apparently, I’ve never been wrong. 

And it pisses me off every time.

It would seem that I hate being right.

If I were to put it in terms that I could understand, I would call myself, “The Accidental Prophet”. 

Over the last year alone, I called my shot about creating a job out of two other jobs so that I would have all the time in the world to sit undisturbed and, on company time, with the boss’ blessing, write another book.  That happened.  Before that, I called my shot about taking ten years of chicken-scratched poems, and publishing a first book.  That happened, too.  Somewhere in between the first book and the job, I said something about creating a publishing company and, yeah… yeah… whatever.

Now, says my friend, I’ve been saying things again.  Future kind of things.  The kind that, if you were to ask me, I wouldn’t call anything more than a few nice ideas.  A wish here, a hope there.  Just spitballing into the wind.  And if I didn’t have the big-eared friend with the over-developed sense interpreting irony in all its forms, I might dismiss these, too. 

Except now, I can’t.  Because I know better than to argue with a plan, even when I don’t know it’s a plan until comes true.

And all I can say right now is, if it’s true, 2017 is going to be a hell of a year.  And if none of it comes true, well like I said, I hate being right, so I’ll be the first to tell you I was wrong. But if by accident I was right, I’ll be writing another one of these next year. 

Complete with the “I told you so” from my friend who hears.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

WANTED: Couch

couch

WANTED: Couch.  With attached living area.  Kitchen and bathroom also a must.  Will sign one-year lease.  Rent-free preferred.  Location not an issue, but would desire within continental US.  Am available for immediate occupancy.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

Christmas Twenty-Sixteen

broke-santa

I just paid my bills online.

My budget looks like crap.

I haven’t any money left.

I think I need a nap.

It’s almost time to go to work,

and start this all again.

An endless cycle I just circle,

back to where I’ve been.

There is no future hope for me,

I think my life is done.

Until I pay off all my bills,

and am too old for fun.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

Lesson from a Bogus Journey

death

Death came to me,

in the middle of the night,

playing Battleship

for my soul. 

Have no fear of death,

as long as he plays his games

on your turf. 

And when he says to you,

“Best two out of three?” 

Tell him to

talk to the chain smoker

in the next aisle over.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

There Must Be Something More

more

There must be something more

than what is right in front of us. 

More than your next meal,

next crap,

next fuck. 

More than work,

more than the distractions of play. 

Traffic,

or unpaid overtime. 

Frozen dinners from Trader Joe’s,

or Wild Turkey on the rocks

to help you sleep at night. 

 

There must be something more

than what fights so hard for your attention. 

Bingeing on shows in a weekend

because you are too tired most nights

to watch just one episode at a time. 

And chasing,

always chasing whatever it is

you think will fill the hole,

complete the puzzle,

satisfy that unspoken need. 

But it isn’t really there,

because it doesn’t know your name. 

 

There must be something more

than what you’ve been told. 

More than what you haven’t been told,

or even dreamed with your

last moments of sleep before

you get up and do the same things

all over again,

until the day you can’t. 

Because you died sooner than

you were led to believe was possible. 

 

There must be something more

than what never satisfies,

always leaves you longing

or reminiscing,

or grieving.

And I would tell you what it is, 

but it doesn’t know my name either.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

Post Office

mail

Hank had his post office,

and I have my warehouse. 

Dismal places,

on graveyard shifts together,

a generation apart. 

We also both had San Pedro. 

We both got out. 

One of us dead,

the other dying. 

Because we all die a little,

every day. 

Some of us are just better at it

than others.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

Urban Lumberjack

 

urban-lumberjack

Into the silent night,

I look up.  

A pig iron forest,

rises. 

My feet,

balanced upon soft cement,

a meadow,

grey. 

Red and black checked flannel,

and hemp,

layered above denim,

covering. 

With wool upon my head,

to keep warm,

my thoughts. 

The urban lumberjack,

with fire,

built from circuits,

lit by words,

sparks,

from my fingertips.

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

Dream Warrior

dream-warriors

“I believe in the power of bad dreams.”

          –random Facebook post by Bill Friday

 

I do. 

Believe in the power of bad dreams, that is.  Once upon a time, I believed, not only in the power of dreams, but in the possibility of their interpretation.  I believed that dreams were granted us to guide us, in the unknown places of our daily lives. 

Interpretation.  Foreknowledge.  Even déjà vu.  At some point, I was open to all of it.  Until those dreams took a turn down a really shitty street, in a bad part of sleepy town.  But then, that was right around the time my life took its own turn.

Same street.  Same part of town.

Just better lighting.

A couple of years ago, I took upon myself an expanded earnings opportunity with the company I have now been with for the last ten years.  That opportunity came in the form of some special skills that I was one of only a limited number of people in my company to possess.  This particular set of skills… and yeah, you have to say it like Liam Neeson… involved warehouses and forklifts, and drives in the middle of the night.  Or the middle of a weekend afternoon.  Or the middle of the night that goes all the way into the next afternoon, and the night following the afternoon.

In other words, I allowed myself to be counted on as an on-call delivery driver ninety-six hours a week.  As in, be available to work at a moment’s notice, any time of the day or night, for ninety-six hours a week.  With all that availability, I still wouldn’t work more than fifty or sixty of those ninety-six hours.  But the on-call nature of the job left me sleep deprived, isolated, and just plain exhausted.

Because of this, sleep was no longer a place of rest after a full day of good things.  It wasn’t respite from a long day of difficult things.  It wasn’t even a retreat from genuinely bad things.  Sleep had become the battleground of my subconscious, where things left unresolved from the day that was, or days on end that seemed to last forever, would try and fight me to the death.  The craziest, illogical scenarios would play themselves out, seemingly for hours, robbing me of the peace that sleep should give. 

And do so in the most knowingly cruel ways imaginable to me. 

As a High Priority courier, I was solely responsible for every parcel in my charge.  From dispatch to pick-up, pick-up to delivery, repeat-repeat-repeat.  100 percent of what could go wrong, and believe me EVERYTHING can go wrong, was my responsibility.  Aircraft parts for planes that sat grounded with passengers still on board, waiting to take off.  Quarter-million-dollar medical imaging equipment going to an ER with a patient overflow because of a bricked MRI machine in the trauma unit.  Harvested organs from bodies, not yet cold in the morgue, awaiting shipment on airline flights within the hour, for transplant into patients on waiting lists for a biological match.  These, and dozens of other scenarios, played out every day, often nearly 24 hours in a day, all on me to complete.

And my dreams had a way of showing me what my conscious mind was too closed for me to see.

In my dreams, I would always begin with the one thing that was my only pride in all this madness.  My control of a nearly uncontrollable situation.  When you can’t miss a flight because someone might die on a table if you do, you exert control over all things to make sure that does not happen.  Best route to and from a pick-up.  Flight schedules.  Parking at the airport.  All flight paperwork filled out perfectly.  All one form of control or another. 

In my dreams, that control was taken away from me, one scene at a time, as I dreamed of situations that seemed like I was living them in the real world, in real-time, one after another.

But in the dreams, what happened was, things would slowly unravel, one detail at a time.

Make a wrong turn.  Park in the wrong place.  Make the pick-up, but not know where I parked.  Find my vehicle, but become lost on my way to the delivery.  Become minutes, then hours late.  And finally, so often that now, it’s laughable, end up hundreds of miles from where my delivery was to go.  Until one night, in one dream, I distinctly remember when, for the first time, my “dream war” became mine to control.  On that night, in this particular dream, when all the details had gone to absolute hell, I uttered to myself from within the dream itself,

“THIS IS BULLSHIT!”

And I woke up.

It was long after that first dream victory, when talking about it with a friend, that it was explained to me just how rare the ability to “call bullshit” on your dreams is.  I know I had never experienced it, until the ninety-six-hour crisis had gone full-blown, and my mind performed an intervention on me.

And for whatever reason it came to me, this gift of calling bullshit on my dreams, it could not have come at a more perfect time.  Because I had been at war with my dreams, as I had been at war with my life, for far too long.  In that one moment, my dreams surrendered on the battleground of my mind.  There was now a truce, through which I could begin to make changes in my life, without which, I would have become a waking casualty.

I was a Dream Warrior no more.    

 

© Copyright 2016 William S. Friday

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