Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 220 - Big Karma

Everything I’ve written so far happened to me pretty much as I’ve described it. I’ve had to change the order of a few things, and of course the names of some of the people involved, but in terms of the events and circumstances it’s all too true. When I tell this to people that I’ve had the occasion to discuss some of these things with, they are usually incredulous in one way or another. Some of them can’t believe that people in business, people who make a lot of money and are for the most part respected and looked up to in their communities are capable of behaving in the ways I’ve described. People don’t want to believe that anyone who has, or appears to have, a lot of money could possibly be as stupid as I have portrayed.

Others are perfectly capable of believing the bad behavior of the people I’ve worked for, but they can’t accept that I would stand for it very long. They think that I should have walked away to find a better place to labor. These people are harder for me to dismiss, because I think they’re right. I can scarcely believe it myself.

What highly compensated executive in his right mind would stand for being denigrated and cursed by a boss like Henry or Ivan or Richard? What honest professional trying to make a business succeed would tolerate the philandering and self-serving machinations of an Alicia or a Fische? What sensible manager, witness to one bone-headed decision after another eroding all hope of profitability in a company where thousands of workers depend on sound practice and good decision making, could not cry out in alarm, and try at least slow down the madness?

In each case the answer would be me. I would do just that because like most everyone I know I will avoid confrontation at all costs and constantly strive to take the easy way out. It is almost always easier to put up with the devil you know than to learn, the hard way, the tricks and deceits of the devil you’ve yet to meet.

If I weren’t unemployed and despairing of ever finding another job I wouldn’t be writing this and hoping that I can turn it into a book. I would be working late, and getting home too exhausted to wax very creative.

That in itself is a sad state of affairs. I should have written a book a long time ago. If I had, I would be a lot happier, have a lot fewer regrets (saved and realized), and have put up with a lot less crap at this point in my life. Had I struck out to do what I enjoy early on rather than waiting to be forced into it by circumstances, both I and (I like to think) the world would be better off for it.

I should be writing this and making a book of it now because it is time for a lot of this stuff to be said. Fifteen million people are out of work, most of them through no fault of their own. Most of them have no idea what happened to them. They were blindsided by economic events way beyond their control. Many, many of them have been without work for a long time—eighteen months is not unheard of. They have lost their health insurance, their homes, their cars, their self respect, and their dignity. They suffer from depression, feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness.

They suffer from a host of other maladies that are the radioactive fallout of poverty, stress and depression. They’ve stopped taking or cut down on their medications because they can’t afford to buy both prescriptions and food. They don’t go to the doctor when they need to because they must use what little money they have to eat, shelter their families, and fund their search for another job. Priorities are shuffled and re-shuffled based on the exigency of the day. They are suffering mightily, and for the most part they do not understand that this is something that was done to them and for which they ought to be indignant.

Even the folks who realize that this economic turmoil we find ourselves in was avoidable are blaming the wrong causes. George W. Busch is a favorite target. Everyone loves to hate George. His stupid grin invites blame and ridicule. George borrowed us into a hole to finance his military adventuring in Iraq and Afghanistan. George is the very embodiment of goofy evil.

Big oil is another culprit, squeezing us dry of money while they pollute our planet and exhaust our resources for their own profit. Who else to blame: welfare recipients, the unemployed slackers who won’t get off their backsides and get a job so long as unemployment benefits are available for the effort of not working, deadbeats who got mortgages they couldn’t afford by lying through their teeth and now refuse to pay what they owe, middle-aged, white, Republican men because, let’s face it, they are to blame for nearly everything else, Namby-pamby liberal socialists determined to spend us into oblivion with a host of ridiculous social entitlement programs calculated to take money away from hard-working Americans and transfer it wholesale to lazy, shiftless scam artists whose only skill is gaming the system, and illegal aliens of every stripe and color who are stealing a living from natural born American citizens by working at jobs no one else wants for wages no one else will take.

You only need to spend five minutes reading the comments on any blog or website article that discusses economic issues to see that somebody somewhere thinks you personally are responsible for their misery, and would like nothing better than to see you tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail. Chances are pretty good that you feel the same way about them.

Assessing blame is counterproductive at best. Any rudimentary lesson in management will tell you not to do it. When something goes wrong, as it always will, you take corrective action, you modify your processes to prevent whatever went wrong from happening again, and you get on with business. I’m not an organization though, and I’m not in business. I’m just me, and while I’ve taken steps to ensure that all the bad stuff that’s happened to me in the past doesn’t happen to me again, I can hardly resist the temptation to blame someone for every bad thing that’s happened as a result of losing my job. As a self-employed writer it’s doubtful I’ll ever have to tick and foot for fools and charlatans again. That’s an excellent outcome as far as I’m concerned, and since I was forced into this course in the main by losing my job, there’s some force to the argument that I owe Bill and Fritz a big thank you for heaving me out onto the street.

My mind doesn’t work that way though. I’m not nearly so gracious and mature. Deep in the vilest recesses of my heart I hold those bastards accountable for every hardship I’ve had to endure over the past year because none of it would have happened had they not decided to fire me. They assessed blame in the worst possible way. They undertook to do me injury to save their own sorry hides. Being ignorant and venal they were incapable of looking into the foreseeable future to see the kind of damage they were doing to me personally, and, if they did, they chose to do what they did anyway and without remorse or shame. This is the conduct of men who have never had to suffer fools in the workplace because they are the fools that everyone else suffers. They are insensitive to the realities of the predicaments they create for the people who work for them and the people who no longer work for them because they have never been thrown into those predicaments themselves.

So it’s left to me to wish them the karma they deserve, the fate they’ve asked for. It shouldn’t be any worse than the fate that befell me; nor should it be any better. Here’s the list:
  • Lost job
  • Lost home in excellent, sociable neighborhood
  • Lost car
  • Lost self-respect
  • Lost good credit standing—filed bankruptcy
  • Lost access to doctors and medical service providers that I knew and trusted
  • Have passed on or delayed essential medical services because I can’t afford the deductibles
  • Have suspended or cut back on essential medications because I can’t afford the co-pays
  • Lost almost half my stuff in two garage sales from hell
  • Had to drive all over Florida spending three and a half days behind the wheel of a U-Haul rental truck
  • Had to move into cramped quarters in a fire ant preserve
  • Suffered innumerable ant bites because of where I am forced to live—this would be my personal favorite misfortune to wish upon those I know in need of some bad karma
  • Have to listen to a constant barrage of helpful and well-meant advice from a variety of friends and family
  • Lost any semblance of privacy, autonomy, and self-sufficiency
  • Have worn the same pair of shorts every day for the last 5 months

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