For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow

This morning I contemplated writing “Shit My Coworkers Say.” I don’t tend to have a good internal barometer for the consequences of my actions in this regard, so I usually imagine whether or not my post would freak Mom out, and then I make a decision. It also isn’t lost on me that Obamacare is soon to be replaced by Trumpcare. The Affordable Care Act will be swiftly transmogrified into the American Health Care Act, and the lives of my family could hang in the balance if I find myself unemployed.

Sure, the Gubmint will keep a couple of the features people yelled loudest about at those embarrassing (for the Congresspeople) town hall meetings, like the requirement that companies provide coverage for preexisting conditions (at a steep price if your insurance has lapsed). If it sounded like a provision’s removal would kill someone’s entire family and there was a chance survivors might then be compelled to set shit on fire, the authors of the bill kept that part of the old act, or at least some semblance of it. 

If our lawmakers (and their business buddies) logged the human algebra into their TI-83 of Tyranny and a provision’s removal only incurred at least the standard American pre-Obama level of wrath and despair, up to and including the number of deaths it would take to initiate complete chaos and anarchy divided by the amount of money their reelection campaigns stand to make, they dropped it like the TPP. What was a half-measure to begin with will become no measure at all, and I’d rather not be thrust into uncertainty against my will, like Spicer after Big Daddy has a Tweetfit.

Plus, the more I thought about it, the more banal that Shit seemed. There are businesses in town (the local newspaper, for example) where dropping the N-bomb is pretty acceptable behavior, so I’m not going to act like I’m the squished social justice sandwich at the bottom of a basket of deplorables. Here, it’s usually more of the mundane, everyday racism like, “A large black man just walked out of the music department with a DVD!” (he was on the inventory crew and was planning to purchase it), or, “There was a black gentleman with a backpack in here forever. I just had a feeling, you know? He could have had anything in there!”

One of my favorite recent quotes from an unprompted rant about water protectors was, “It’s not their land. They should take their teepees and go home.” Most of the time, though, it’s just regular old racial profiling with some ableism thrown in. “I’m so retarded! That’s just retarded! This is retarded!” Nothing to see here, folks. 

Last weekend I received my ten year pin after just over eleven years of employment. I wasn’t bothered by the lateness, but it did irk me a bit that some of my similarly-awarded coworkers were lauded as heroes of the people while my speech read like a flagged Wikipedia stub. “Out of 79 original hires, 71 no longer work here, but Bob does. He was quickly promoted and promoted again, and he’s still here. Give him a hand, the guy who still works here after ten, I mean eleven years, Bob Talbot.”

Censored because I don’t want to deal with the potential bullshit.

Believe me, I am not so goddamned aloof that I don’t understand why my presentation got phoned in. For a couple of years, I waged open war against the very corporation that feeds my family. I’ve capitulated, mostly (I will neither confirm nor deny guerilla tactics) because I’ve realized how little my supervisors actually control, and I regognize how unlikely they are to change, especially after they’ve spent decades clawing their way into enviable, cushy positions as cogs in the dreaded machine. Granted, I’m still not sure why it takes 35 hours a week to schedule 20 people with high tech software when I used to schedule 50 with some green screen, no mouse, 1980s MS-DOS nightmare of a program in less than eight hours a week, but I digress.

I’ve surrendered with very little to show for my effort, which was a barely-Pyrrhic victory that’s already been erased by changes in the state minimum wage. Perhaps I’ll add a small line on my CV (right below “Started Fred Armisen’s Wikipedia page” and “First Post on the Johnny Cash is Dead thread on Fark dot com”) that says, “Singlehandedly (advocated for my coworkers and) negotiated a .25-.50 raise for workers in three stores until the government forced the company to raise wages again.” Goddamn, that doesn’t flow at all.

I’ll likely receive some stern warnings from a friend or two (and Mom) after this, and they’ll be completely warranted. I’m aware of how precarious my situation is, but people have written worse under more duress. I’m no hero, I’m just the guy who doesn’t know how to quietly give less fucks. 

Economy willing, I plan to be here until the store lease is up in 2020. That is, unless I’m struck down in my prime by chronic foot-in-mouth disease. I’ll receive my 15th anniversary pin, and perhaps the book gods will grant us a reprieve and renewal.

Either way, when that fuzzy black box gets unceremoniously tossed at me, I hope it’s accompanied by a short statement that highlights my accomplishments, something like, “Bob, since you’ve taken over the store scheduling with no promotion or increase in pay, you’ve excelled at somehow keying in our seven remaining employees while simultaneously running the cash register, information desk, music/DVD department, and preparing coffee. You are an indispensable part of our business and the true hero of workers everywhere. Thank you for your service, Bob Talbot. Here’s some clearance stickers. Time to liquidate this bitch.”

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