Off the Mat


    Consider this a Green Venom addendum.

    After nine months of unemployment I deserted the idled ranks in July. My formless time was not a vacation. Unemployment insurance neither made me lazy nor enriched me beyond my wildest dreams.

    Like the millions with whom I shared the same boat, I owe the American Labor movement a giant deal of gratitude. Without organized labor’s steadfast agitation throughout prior decades, enduring unemployment would’ve been Capital A arduous.

    By the way unemployment benefits, subsistence provisions really, are a safety net segment the GOP eagerly intends to shred. Insurance. It never matters. Until it suddenly does.

    Over 30 years of working and I never thought about UI. Had never intended drawing it. Small as the remittances were, each one kept uncomfortable living from becoming dire.

    Too bad my former employers lacked any such foresight for calamities. But then in the end those disgraces didn’t have the sense cows have when it rains. At least the beasts of the field know enough to seek shelter. Who doubts in a downpour my erstwhile employers will remain exposed and get drenched.

    Those having read Green Venom know of the downward spiral that became a nose dive. My compilation chronicles the “third generation curse,” of prosperity into penury. An American failure story. Rather than focus, bear down, work hard, and innovate in order to thrive, my progressively insentient ex-boss entrusted the family concern to his degenerate daughters, Hubris and Nemesis.

    Had either ever known achievement? Some accomplishment at which one or the other could point at in pride? If so it was the only secret both maintained.

    Lousy world economic conditions? Washington policies? Bad luck? Changing tastes? Bah! Forget all that! None of those circumstances had anything to do with the 32-year-old company’s crash-and-burn.

    What busted that enterprise? Disengaged management fostered zero concern which in turn created the perfect vacuum. Worst is that company was so otherwise robust minimal care would’ve assured the patient’s hearty survival.

    The boss’ nitwit daughters drank and drugged themselves and their patrimony into a ditch. His two ingrate spawn couldn’t even muster an absolute minimum of attention. Self-induced mental palsy had sapped them of self-preservation.

    A pronoun change in “I Love A Man in Uniform” by Gang of Four aptly suited them. “Their ambition was to have ambition.”

    Pitches after these recent posts ask readers whether any have given thought to what devilment occurs in a bag of snakes. Given more time and distance to further contemplate the question, maybe it’s unfair to compare snakes to my former employers. After all, the former are reptiles bereft of intellect behaving on instinct. Whereas the bipedal idiots resorted exclusively to the reptile portions of their brains.

    During my first weeks of involuntary idleness, I occasionally daydreamed about what torments I could inflict on the two boobs and sorry old fool who’d dissolved 24 years of gainful employment and its substantial vestments.

    Twenty-four years of conscientious service merited more than flimsy double-talk and a cold bag of dried shit as farewell.

    The girls consumed everything, those imbeciles. Not only theirs, ours too. In the end that place was a husk.

    They weren’t human. I worked for locust. Two-legged locust.

    Soon enough I abandoned revenge fantasies. Imaginative as I am, nothing I might’ve visited upon them could’ve been worse than what they already imposed on themselves. The sole pleasure left me was knowing they’d not only struck rock bottom, but would remain mired there.

    As the saying goes, everybody gets knocked down; what counts is getting back up. Nothing less than a crane will return those dregs upright. They are finished.

    No one pities their state, so thoroughly have the bridges been burned. Professionally bankrupt, personally bankrupt, dismissed by acquaintances.

    Only dirt remains to be tossed on the corpses.

    A few friends suggested I sue. For what? The “satisfaction” of winning a judgment which will never be collected? What next? Eating ashes for a full stomach? But this is an increasingly take it or leave it America. What don’t lawsuits salve in our country? There are no accidents here. Just opportunities to score huge jury settlements.

    My new position is no great shakes. It’s fine for a someone callow and untested just entering the workforce. At 23, what’s expected should spark aspirations.

    However, now 53, performance requires unlearning 30 years of experience. Anyone younger won’t know any better. I do. My motor revs and I spin my wheels. That I’m starting at the bottom after decades of being above it all frustrates me.

    The assignments themselves make scant use of my true abilities. It’s probably the closest to “make work” I’ve ever come. But it’s work. And a job confers dignity. Prestige raises esteem.

    Back in the workforce, shouldn’t I be thankful? UI limited me to essential expenditures. With discretionary income severed life was reduced to basics. The distracting and fulfilling parts needed sacrificing.

    Earning once again, I can resume living. Over the last several weeks I’ve dined out, socialized and solved world problems while running up bar tabs, eagerly awaited the theater season because if a production receives worthwhile notices and the subject interests me, I can afford a seat. Unfortunately, the new cash flow arrives too late for the pennant races. The Mets swooned early, while Yankee Stadium prices extort serious green. Money I don’t have. Yet.

    My current occupation is not prestigious. If only for my own ego, I try bringing a little something more to it than expected. At this stage of the game it doesn’t matter whether the effort is noted. Any puffery is for me.

    Otherwise it’s the sort of gig that makes one yearn for Friday afternoons on Monday mornings. During the workday one hungers for the five o’clock world. Actually come to think about it, this job inspires me to seek another job. An outlet gainful employment provides.

    While seeking new work I came across a great paradox. Need delivers rejection, whereas possession brings plenty. My previous occupation illustrated this. Life afterwards firmed the point.

    Enjoying sinecure, streams of new opportunities passed my way. Bereft of clairvoyance, I let them slide by. The moment my situation collapsed, once plentiful offers withered. The same agents who’d sought me then succored me with “good luck” and “best wishes” instead of salary.

    Returned to the paying field I hope past trends repeat.

    Generational divide played a good deal in delaying my reemployment. Forget being able to write code. I’m not a tech. How many of my prospective job interviewers had never dialed a rotary phone? Or fixed a balky TV by banging a shoe against its side. Or have only known cars with fuel injectors, and not carburetors?

    Someone my senior hired me. My resume, dumbed down as it was, fully informed him of my capabilities. He’d been around long enough to recognize the obvious as well as skip redundant questions. Skills one hopes maturing interviewers acquire.

    The kid assigned to train me, the fellow I exceed, expected to find further happiness in a more menial position elsewhere. He was a walking, slouching, slobbering John Leguizamo caricature. At 26, his sole passion was fast loud cars. Pimply still, a smoker, and flabby on the way to coronary, Gearhead’s instructions consisted of mumbling and waving in vague directions.

    Not among the most revered at his former place, management declined splurging for a stamp to mail his last check.

    New remuneration is middling. Fortunately, I haven’t any debts or dependents. Good thing. Burdened by those two anchors, my salary might tickle the suburban poverty level. And benefits? Continued good health just became a necessity, while vacation time has been transformed into a concept … for other people. Time off will come at a price. One I must pay.

    Today’s American labor conditions reflects more and more of yesterday’s American management habits. At this rate Generation X’s Upton Sinclair will have a surfeit of material for an updated version of The Jungle. Same goes for its Chaplin, who’ll film his or her Modern Times on digital.

    When I toiled at an honest job, earning fair wages and other just recompense, I absolutely appreciated my situation. My nest was better than sufficiently feathered. It was comfortable.

    Again, long ago, if labor organizers hadn’t agitated the rank and file, broken their arches on picket lines, gotten their heads busted during “actions,” and resorted to courts in seeking redress, no way myself and tens of millions of others could’ve created then expanded a thriving middle class. You know. The protections being lionized by the same business whizzes trying to eviscerate it.

    Without such recourse, the thin top level would’ve already hoarded more of the cream than they have already. That’s no lie. Nor exaggeration.

    In my previous professions I’ve been blessed to observe the privileged. Especially the privileged who’ve believe they’ve hit a homer but in reality were born on third and scored on a balk. Most of us have hard enough times getting to first, much less stealing second and third.

    The underentitled/overgrasping children of my numbskull former employer believed they rated elect membership. At least both girls espoused that misguided belief for the longest. Joining the supercilious and vaporous seemed a no-brainer for the brain dead. Like everything else requiring purpose and dedication, those lazy dopes missed the cut. Abjectly.

    Through no effort of my own I work on the periphery of where they hoped to rise and lounge. Probably because those kind of rarefied personages always failed impressing me. Now if I’d been a suck-up parasite …

    Perhaps this new proximity will churn fodder for future posts. Those poor people. At the slightest provocation that’ll be me outside the tent pissing in. If so, results will stain this spot.

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