I read bits and pieces of Kerouac and Bukowski and I find bits and pieces of me, some of them big and almost identical and others kinship of spirit like.
Hitchhiking thousands of miles and lost and cold and crying so far away from home and so utterly helpless and almost hopeless: been there done that too.
See previous blog on that: Different Light, Lightly Different
The countless beatings and the cruelty and the rage that boils with it facing my powerlessness and the injustice of it all until one day you get just about big enough to scare the bullying mom just a little and slow her down before you get to plead temporary if not permanent insanity, I mean she was totally fearless and push my buttons far beyond what I thought they were able to take and endure. In hindsight it seems that mental instability was rampant in the genes as there was a bit of a psychopath in her for sure. Referring to Bukowski`s dad for those of you not familiar with BUK.
Down to the post office where BUK lasted 12 years, I didn’t last 12 days.
Vividly remember as if it was yesterday, and yet there are so many things I have forgotten but I haven’t forgotten THAT one. Year is, well about, 1971 before the automation and implementation of the postal code. I am 16 at best fresh out of school after a couple of lousy jobs, 6 months of hard labour and slavery with my dad, exploited at 90 hours a week for $20 lifting 600 lbs carpet bails, when the minimum wages back then was $1.65... anyhow long story short again and as always too late for that I was quite pleased to be hired shortly after Christmas as surplus employee to clear the backlog they had suffer with that strike and the Christmas rush and lo and behold I only started at 10 AM there was a God after all and the pay was not bad at all in fact the best I had had so far... So here we start and they put me in front of one of those cubicles with pigeon holes in the form of half a honeycomb one row of ten by 10 squares about straight in front of you and 2 more rows on the left and on the right at about 45 degrees maybe 30 so you can still see you next bench colleague if your pile of mail baskets is not too high that is.
So here we are 10 to 4, extremely well paid, and I have Papineau to Park Avenue and within the first hour I can do my job with my eyes closed, I memorised it all and it`s easy peasy in fact way too fucking easy peasy. Two hours in and I am bored to death and struggling to breathe with the stuffiness and the bloke next to me tells me he has been doing that for THIRTY years and my jaw dropped and I really questioned his sanity and whether or not he was a fucking hero or the ultimate loser. Barely make it to the end of my shift and crawl home in the grey of winter. Day 2 and I think I was asked to start at 8 this time. Supervisor comes asked me what time I started yesterday...? 10...! What time did you finish? 4....then I noticed that in the overwhelming backlog they have, the supervisor never shows up again but before he leaves he tells me to show up at 10 the day after ...cool.... by 9 o`clock I can`t take it anymore this pile of baskets is nothing short of Sisyphusian and I am about to die of oppression and boredom so with my heart beating hard in my chest I just fucked off at 10AM and went to breathe some good air outside...day after rinse and repeat, supervisor comes in ask me what time I started 8 , what time did you finish FOUR I LIED and we went on again marking my hours in his book, telling me what time to come in the day after sometimes 8, sometimes 10 and moved on. That little scenario lasted 10 days with me pulling my disappearing act as soon as my hours were logged in or shortly after. I was paid for like 60 hours of work at 3 or 4 times the minimum wages at that when I had hardly done 20 and I was quite proud of myself in fact to have disappeared among the crowd of hopeless drones buzzing in that madhouse.
In hindsight today after all these years it just seems to me again that there was just no way I could have handled this for more than I did, ok yes I could have quit but the money was easy and the system was overcrowded and weak so I took my money and ran. Yes it is a service to the people and yes someone needs to do it even though they have found a way to get rid of most of these drones now with automation but it just wasn’t MY WAY and my kind of service. BUK hated it with a passion but he kept at it for 12 long years of course in an American System where you can`t afford to be different ... but I won`t explain or excuse BUK he was a much better man than I am.
Working has always been bad and evil to me some sort of a curse in fact I tried to do without a la Bukowski: I mean the constant abuse of foremen when I was a blue collar to the treachery and cut throat approach of your equals when you move on to be a white collar. I met a lot of wannabe Gordon Gekkos in my time using your head as a ladder rung to go up and ahead in the rat race, one stealing a $100 commission and my customer right in my face lying through his teeth...got my $100 back for sure but I learned a lot about trust or my lack of it thereof.
Customer Service and PR manager shit was the worst .the amount of abuse one had to take got me to a point where I have paid my pay forwards for the next 700 years and no one will fuck with me anymore...hell I can barely restrain myself in a bank line as a customer when some jack ass treats the poor teller like shit I really feel like stepping up and tap the guy on the shoulder and tell him Excuse me or don’t if I care but she cannot tell you that you are a fucking asshole but I CAN MR KING SHIT so move the fuck on and let the rest of us have a good day too PRICK!
And when you`ve done all that and swallowed it all in. your manager comes in and gives you the worst review of your life for the simple reason that he is too much of a fucking cheapskate to give you the proper raise that you so thoroughly deserve leaving you stunned and deflated and windless.
But I am not bitter J