The whole mess was an accident—a bad one. Accidents happen all the time, and we don’t think about them as being meaningful— just random chance, negligence, a driver not paying attention to the road, texting a girl who wants his attention or who doesn’t want it (that was my experience most of the time), but none of those thoughts were in my head then. 

My life was simple. Empty, but simple.

It was 2010—just long enough after 2008 to feel the strangling economy, but there was hope, if you never had anything. I was one of those, blessed to live in the middle class, and to have two parents with college degrees, who believed in marriage, God, and stability. They saved their money like ants, and didn’t go very far from the pile.

I graduated from the local college with a degree in psychology and business. The business minor was my advisor’s idea, because psychology is a bit too fluffy. He said it would beef-up my degree.

Anyway, I learned how to get through boring business classes. They had acronyms for everything in the textbook, like DSS, which stands for a Decision Support System. Don’t ask me why I still remember this.

I had a friend from Israel who sat in class and always raised his hand to ask questions.

“Excuse me, sir. How would one use a DSS?”

The professor didn’t know what a DSS was. My friend knew he didn’t know. That’s why it was funny.

Our teacher wouldn’t admit that he didn’t know. He talked around it, ignored the questions, until my friend asked again.

“Excuse me, sir. What’s a DSS?”

I didn’t feel sorry for our professor. He bragged about firing employees from Boeing.

“I didn’t want to do it,” he would say.

“Yeah. Right.” My Israeli friend laughed under his breath.

“The man had a family, but he kept drilling holes that were too big in the aircraft,” our professor explained. “Well, it matters when it’s flying at 40,000 feet.”

The prick had actually convinced himself that he had saved lives by firing this guy.

I was to learn that acronyms were in common use in most fields, especially lower learning, which was where I got a job.

Like most young men, I thought I was clever, determined, and resourceful.

The job at the golf course was not going well. I needed to get out of there, but I stayed. My mother kept telling me…”It’s easier to get a job, if you have a job.”

Years later, I confronted her about this.

“I kept trying to tell you to quit,” she said.

This drove me crazy, because it was the same impression my father had when he wanted to quit. “Your mother won’t let me,” he said.

“That’s not true. He can quit whenever he wants,” my mother complained.

At that time, I still saw my mother as my mother. I had not yet been confused by the female, or let’s just say, I was unaware that I was confused by the female.

It began to happen when I changed jobs.

Before I got a job in an elementary school, I applied to draw blood, work as a telemarketer, and sell merchandise in a golf warehouse. Luckily, all of those opportunities fell through.

The traditional application process was not working for me. I knew that my best chance at getting a job was to make a good impression, in person.

My mother worked at a private school where I had attended kindergarten through sixth grade.

I volunteered to tutor kids there, who had learning disabilities.

I ran into my 1st grade teacher. She reminded me that my best friend from elementary school was married, had a kid, and was working for a hedge fund on the East Coast.

“He was always so good at math,” she said. “I can’t remember what you were good at.”

I sat-in on their morning devotions. The room was red, and there was a dead plant in the corner.

The teachers were tired, unfriendly, and overweight.

I didn’t remember them that way.  

Nothing had changed there. It was an old military barracks, with a missile silo out-back. There was barbed wire around the school. When I was a kid, I thought it was to prevent us from escaping.


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