Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Normal



Today was like the last few thousand todays: wasted.  Each second, I’m a little bit older and (a)pathetic.  I hate my job.  So, don’t ask me about it.  I’ve applied to hundreds of other dead end jobs, but I’m always over/under educated, experienced, or paid (never overpaid though).  There’s a million other candidates and they always choose some inept “connected” kid.  So, I grind away making a ton of money for someone else and get insulted in the process.  With no more cash in my pocket, I end up sitting on my secondhand couch watching TV.  Zoning out and not knowing what the hell I’m going to do.

I have a couple of degrees.  Minimally qualified to work in the fields I now loathe.  So, theres a couple of dead dreams.  Not a chance in hell I’d buy another worthless sheepskin.  The only thing I learned was how to launder money from banks to the university gaining personal debt in the process.  So, what can I do that isn’t already automated or outsourced?  The choices seem to be either food service or a doctor.  Everything in between has been destroyed in the race to the bottom.

I’m tired of the same ol’ shit.  And I know the ideals of merit and hard work are bullshit.  Promotions given based on who laughs the loudest at the boss’ lame jokes; not results.  Imbecile enthusiasm! I’m the one that must sacrifice.  It’s my pay that must be slashed so they can get a raise.  It’s my budget that has to be cut to the broken bone for the benefit of those who delegate.  In the meantime, the cost of food, clothes, rent, and transit are always rising in spite of diminishing quality.

At 3am, I walk the quiet streets.  What the hell am I going to do?  I barely make ends meet on my income.  How can I build a foundation for my life on this quicksand?  I imagined that I’d be doing something at this point in my life and I’m not.  And, the frustration of doing everything right at still getting screwed in unbearable.  The backstabbing and evils one considers just to pay survive.  But, right now, all I can do is mass submit my resume and accept the things I can’t change…     



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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dusty's Saloon



I can’t sleep.  I’ve counted sheep.  Did some reading.  Popped a few pills.  Still staring at a black ceiling.  Not even tired.  So, I throw on an old shirt and dirty jeans.  Head down the street to Dusty’s Saloon to get a drink.

As you can imagine, it’s pretty dead on a Wednesday night.  A couple of guys in yellowed country band t-shirts shooting pool and a lady in a cheap uniform that looks like her shift just ended or is about to begin.  Classic rock is always on the radio.  I take a stool at the end of the bar.

The TV's on, but never with volume.  Nothing but garbage sandwiched between ads.  Pushing prescription drugs.  Selling some redesigned car.  Another couple of minutes of an unfunny sitcom.  Please stop running this baby diaper ad repeatedly.  It’s been rough lately.  I order a whiskey and take in the scenery.  Hopefully, the combination will make me drowsy.

Two girls whisper to each other as they walk into the bar.  Probably about how disappointed they are with how empty it is in here.  Or, how it’s such a dive.  Both in their twenties.  One wasn’t attractive and the other was average.  But, they are all dolled up.  So, you know they aren't from around here.  Probably came down from Chicago for work or a funeral or something.  I’m surprised they take a table instead of looking for a better place (not that there is one in this town).  I order another round.  I take what’s in the well because I’m looking to get drunk; not flavor.  “That’ll be two dolla,” the bartender says, “Ya need ten ifya wanna put it onna card.”

Guy’s new.  Doesn’t know I’m a regular and good for it.  “I’ll put it on da tab,” and show him a wad of cash in my wallet.  He seems satisfied.

“Want some pretzels or somethin’?”

“Nah,” I drop the stir stick into the trash behind the bar, “Just keep ‘em comin.'  I’ll tellya when I’m done fer da night.”

“No prob.”  He went on some kind of rant about the game that night and all.  Seems like an alright guy.  Maybe I’ll get to know him if he decides to stick around.

The two city girls finally order drinks at the bar.  Took them a while to figure out there isn’t any table service.  They keep whispering and giggling.  Probably laughing at me since I catch them looking in my direction a couple of times.  I look like I just got out of bed because I did just get out of bed.  A wreck for sure.  I should just ignore them.  But, I'm bored.  When the bartender comes back with their drinks I say, “Hey, put ‘em on my tab.”  I don't give them “the eyes” or anything.  Just thought it’d be nice to talk with someone that isn’t from here.  But, it just makes them giggle and whisper some more.  After a couple of minutes, I write them off.  Not even a “thank you” or anything.  My attention turns back to watching Demolition Man.


“Umm…  Wouldja like ta sit with us?” asks the average girl.  They have to be more bored with this place than I am.  I came in with lower expectations.  The other girl seems nervous and I can’t blame her.  But, when you come to a place like this in this town, you don’t always get to choose your company.

It's good though.  The unattractive one is quiet, but nice.  The average girl is a bit of a snob.  Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if someone is a snob or just shy.  I mean, you really don’t know until you interact with someone for a while.  A shy person will talk, but will play coy until they’re comfortable with you.  But, a snob will eventually curl their lip and judge your every action.  Some are princesses and I can’t stand them.  You know, they dress up in white pants, laugh like hyenas, and pretend to fart rainbows.  We all know how much of a pill-popping lunatic bitch they really are.  But, these girls were alright.  Even the snob.  At least they didn’t stare blankly at their smartphones texting pointless messages the entire time.

“I knew ya two weren’t from here,” I say to the average girl, “Look ‘round.  Getting’ dressed up ta go bar hoppin’ means puttin’ on yer cleanest t-shirt.  That’s not an insult either.  Just an observation.”

“Really?” she replies.  There was a glance at my grubby shirt and a look of disgust at the other patrons when she realizes I'm right.

“Really.  I use ta live in a skyscraper fulla assholes.  Designer clothes.  Interior decorated apartments.  Luxury cars.  Convinced they're important.  Use ta getting’ what they want, when they want, how they want.  Not people in this town.  They take what they can git 'n ‘preciative ‘bout it too.  Some have da courage ta leave n’ chase their dreams.  Go ta Chicago, New York, or L.A.  None of them really find it 'n end up comin’ back.  But, at least we tried.”

“Hmm…  That’s depressin.’”

“It is what it is.  So, what are ya in town fer?  I know we’re no tourist destination, but I can point ya in the right direction ifya lookin’ fer somethin.’”

She doesn't care.  Says something about a wedding.  So, we kind of just sit here at the table quietly.  I could of just stayed at the bar and not talked.  Fortunate Son by CCR is playing on the radio.  If we're not going to talk, we might as well have good music.  I order us another round even though our glasses are still half full.  Need something to do.  “Haveya seen Da Great Gatsby?”  Leonardo was won-der-ful.  It was amazin.’”

“Yeah, I saw it.”  It was a flash in the pan with the substance gutted out like a fish.  There’s no examination or thought of the concept of the American Dream.  Just a lame love triangle with indulgent special effects.  And bad music.



“Wasn’t it great?  I just loved it.  I woulda loved goin’ ta those parties.”

“So, ya like da movies?” trying to steer the conversation elsewhere so I don’t become offensive, “What’s some of yer favorites?”

“I just think Baz Luhrmann’s great.  All those pretty dresses 'n beautiful homes.  So romantic.”  I just focus on my drink.  Everyone can say their opinion, but they never wants to hear mine.  After a bit, she finally stops talking about The Great Gatsby.

“I didn’t git yer names.  I’m Luke.”

“I’m Jenny and this is Andrea.”  I try to find a topic all of us can participate in.  Nothing seems to work.  I ask where they are from and work.  I make up a fake problem just so I can ask for their advice.  But, they seem underwhelmed with everything.  Well, they are originally from nowheresville, Iowa, but now live in New York City working at a clothing store.  I ask if they like their jobs.  No, but the discount is decent. 

Andrea, the unattractive one, actually starts to talk.  She’s actually pretty funny and interesting once she’s had a couple of drinks.  She has a good story about all these suburban teenage girls that come into their store.  They come in as a group and scatter toward the merchandise they like.  Then, one of them pukes on purpose.  Just vomits in the middle of the shop.  When Andrea or whoever is distracted getting the cleaning supplies, all the rest start shoplifting like crazy.  Then, they’d all make a break for it.  Now, if someone gets sick they have to just stand there watching everyone and wait for security.  You can’t make this shit up.  I order us another round. 

“Why ya orderin’ us all these drinks?”  Andrea is not asking a question so much as making an accusation.  “What doya want in exchange fer these daiquiris?”

“Nothin’ at all,” I say, “Just ta hang out with ya until I git tired ‘n can go home ‘n git ta sleep, which will be pretty soon.”  The bartender is already putting up the stools for the night.

“Nothin’?  C’mon, two pretty girls walk inta a bar ‘n ya ‘spect nothin’ when ya buy ‘em drinks?”

“Nope.  Howya know I don’t have a girlfriend or wife at home or something’?  Anyway, won’t ask fer yer number or anything.’”

“Why not?” Andrea says raising her voice.


“Yer not mad ‘cause I’m not tryin’ ta pick ya up now, are ya?”  That makes me laugh.  A real damned if you do; damned if you don’t moment.  Andrea blushes and Jenny pretends she’s not interested in the conversation.  She hears every word, but still pretends.

The new bartender makes last call and I pick up a round.  Grab popcorn for the table to absorb the alcohol.  Cash out.  The table is covered with little napkins, stir sticks, and toothpicks.  Sticky with spilled dried out beverages.  The lights come up to full brightness so the bartender can sweep the floor.  All of us squint our eyes.  Probably because our eyes dilate, but maybe because we can see what each other really looks like now.  Didn’t expect to stay until close.  Maybe I should just stay up instead of going to bed tonight.  Got to be at the worksite by seven.

I toss back the last of the whiskey and ask them if they know how to get back to their place.  Say they do.  Mention that they have a bunch of stuff to do for their college friend’s wedding this weekend: flowers, dresses, dinners, and all that nonsense.  I put them in Joe’s taxi.  I know Joe.  Long story.  But, he sits at Dusty’s Saloon every night since he can rely on their loyal customers. 

Poor girls.  Drove all the way here from NYC.  Had to get a hotel, rent a car, bridesmaid gowns, gas, and probably a million other things.  All on their part-time retail wages.  So much for degrees.  After thinking about it, I’m glad I bought them their drinks.  It’s sad that no one ever comes here because they want to.  The Visitor Center’s motto should be, “Welcome: we’re glad you’re obligated to be here!”

I head up 5th and turn down Williams Street.  Drag my shoes down the unlit sidewalks.  The only light faintly shines from the front porches of various homes.  A few TVs flicker behind curtained windows.  Leaves crinkle in the cool summer breeze.  Sunrise will be in a few hours.  Probably just wonder around until then.  Get some breakfast and head to work.  




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