Today was no different. I put on my color-coated uniform like I always did, I drove there like I always did, and I exchanged many blows with the oncoming assaults like I always did. Those two years ago, though, I started out strong. I ran and jumped in with guns blazing, tackling those who would oppose me to the ground Terry Tate style, and be an all-around hoss.
But this long time of warfare does take its toll. People had noticed me beginning to wear down. I began to take more and more damage from my routine shifts, while at the same time began putting up less and less of a fight.
Tonight was different. The skirmish was taking place, while I headed off the front of the assault with my team backing me up. One-by-one they came in, sometimes only at a trickle while other time they meant to cripple us. I refused to buckle. I stood strong, refusing to budge, refusing to cave, taking what they threw at me and only giving it back to them.
...but then, time called. I buckled. I caved. I fell and couldn't get up. I struggled, but to no avail. I started to get up, but then felt a firm kick in my side. "Get up!" a voice yelled. I started to rise, getting myself to all fours, but then again I got kicked. "Get up!!" it yelled, this time louder. I got to my knees and looked up, seeing the main squad leader looking at me, her managerial weapon leveled at me just right between the eyes. Just like putting down a sick horse.
They didn't need people who had grown soft. They didn't need those that couldn't fight. If I couldn't do my job to their specs anymore, I was merely cannon fodder. I couldn't argue; I knew she was just in her decision. "We run a business here," she said. "Not a charity." Then she fired.
It was 11th grade. Dr. Keely called me over to see him and Mom and I had finished up cleaning the dog kennels and all that the rest for which of our shift had called us to do. "Mike...listen," he started. "We have some guys coming back from college pretty soon, and...I'm sorry, but we're going to have to let you go...." "Really?!" I suddenly replied, quite cheerfully.
It was my senior year. Debbie passed out some letters with the Lemstone Books heading at the top of the page to us at the work meeting. We all read it quietly together...and by the end, a couple people began sniffling to themselves, looking over to Debbie with tear-filled eyes that screamed that they did not, did not, did not want to believe what was written.
It was November. Mom had recently shown signs of improvement from her stroke, but my life still had not yet found firm footing. C.M. called me to the manager's office and I sat there on the floor. She talked to me and said that everybody didn't think I was doing well lately. "I'm sorry...my life's been in a mess...my mom's been in the hospital...." "Well I'm raising two kids on my own without any help from anybody, okay?!" She continued, finally finishing with what went along the lines of "...and we really don't want you to come back." ...no...please no....
I think I would say it started yesterday. Last night, to be precise. I was getting ready to leave after closing up, then while saying "bye" to everybody, Charles informed me that Amy, our general manager (top one) wanted to meet with me the next morning at 10:30 to "discuss my future there at Wendy's". When you hear something about the "future" of your job some place, you could probably be sure that it was likely going to be big...sometimes nice, others...um....
I got back to the apartment somewhat distraught by hearing this news, and I knew it wasn't going to be beneficial for me. I think that I've mentioned here before that I've grown to learn that I'm not cut out for fast food. I remember when the manager over at Schlotzki's Deli said straight to my face the day that she "let me go" that I wasn't. "I don't think you're cut out for fast food," she said. Pow. Metaphorical big slap in teh face (yes, "teh", people). But these many months later, I've realized that she was right. I'm not cut out for fast food. But...I honestly have no other place to go....
I went to bed just about as soon as I got back to the apartment. To make sure I got up in time, I even slept in the living room. "Let's see...2 o'clock...nine hours of sleep...yeah, I should be okay." I awoke naturally at about 6:30, due to the fact my feet were just about freezing, then I lied there for a little while wanting to get back to sleep. Ryan then nudged me at 7, asking me to drive him to work. Surrrrre. Did it, got back, sleep. Woke at 9. Still got time. Went to sleep, had...some weird dream.
But there's another dream I had during the course of the night which I'd like to quickly discuss. I was on the computer, working on a map editor that was kind of like rpgmaker2000's, but at the same time it had Dance Dance Revolution type characteristics to it, but more along the lines of Stepmania or Dance With Intensity, and this map was modeled after the apartment I live in, and the cursor highlighted certain squares denoting certain keys which I would have to press along the music to an "Americanized Butterfly", but actually it didn't sound like Butterfly, from what I remember, and I think I did okay in the song. ...and if you have no idea what in world I am actually talking about, don't worry--it was a dream.
But in that dream, I also remembered I wanted to show Fallon this, and when I went to go see her, I remember that she had different glasses on...but that fact aside, I remember that she had the cats around her. But added to the feline menagerie was also a young white, orange, and black tabby cat, as well as a brown rat that was crawling around. "Oh yeah!" she said to me. "I decided to go and get some more animals!"
I proceeded to yell at her. During that dream, in my mind, that was the last straw. I couldn't handle her just leaving me out of apartment matters anymore; I just let out at her. We then had five cats and a freakin' rat! ...not that the rat was "freaking", per se...just an adjective to emphasize stress on that word. ...*cough...but anyways, that was the dream.
I then woke up at about 11:30, not really aware of the time, but I was awoken by Fallon entering the living room...where...I was camped. "Hey," I greeted, covering the fact I'd been sleeping. I got a "hey" in return.
Then I got a "I'm taking Ed to the shelter." And, after just having seen the movie, I quote Joe Dirt in saying "whaaaaaat!" That little black and white kitten, the cute, psychotic, hyperactive ball of energy contained within that little tiny body was going to be leaving us.
"...for good?" I asked. It was an affirmative.
Apparently Little Edward had been urinating a lot...and in a somewhat unsettling way. In our hallway we have a long carpet that covers the entirety of it. Whilst walking barefoot down the hall, sometimes I would feel a slightly wet spot near the vent on the wall. I figured that it was merely condensation caused by the air conditioning happening...or...something like that. Fallon then went to prove me wrong.
She moved the carpet to reveal the carpet underneath patterened in wet spots all the way down. Edward hadn't been using her litter box.
Typing here in the Price household (my computer is currently getting the hate extracted from it), I find it very, very disturbing to think that back there at the apartment there's that giant...urine...stain...that takes up a very central part of the household layout. It just...just...oh my gosh, freakin', freakin' gross! We so desperately need to clean that carpet now! I don't wanna be livin' around the city's biggest wetspot! Egads, that is just plain wrong! I'm willin' to pay the 20-something dollars to get another Rug Doctor for a day! E--ew. Just...no. Bad.
...but enough of the wet spot--that's cureable. What's incureable is that there is now a member of our makeshift group that is now missing. Little Edward, I know that I protested her first moving in, all the way to taking downright offense for the roomies' blatant ignoring that I should have some kind of say-so around the apartment, but still...I'll miss her. She was a cute kitten.
I remember that earlier that morning she actually went up and nestled down on my thigh and got comfy, and purred as I stroked her from the top of her head to her tail, closing her eyes purring that grainy rattle that only kittens can. She was a cute thing with plenty of energy. Just that morning too I watched her charge full speed at the screen door just to take a flying leap at it, clinging to it like velcro, as she just then stayed put, looking around, fascinated that she was actually able to stay on there like that. Just like her older sister Mia.
...and Mia misses her adopted sister. Oh she misses her. After Fallon left, only minutes afterwards, Mia walked around a little bit, meowing and crying out, wondering where her playmate had gone to. Sure they started out on shaky terms, but they had come to eventually tolerate each other, and finally, dare I say it, love each other. They were young, still kittens, still playful, both of them. Mia at first was taken aback by her territory being invaded by this outsider who threatened to take the attention and a portion of the food, while Little Edward, despite her size, refused to take any guff that anybody would give her, and fought back with all the ferocity she could muster to squeeze into that little silent, breathy hiss that she had.
But after tolerance came acceptance, and they filled many an hour with charging around the apartment after each other, wrestling each other on the bamboo mat in Ryan's computer area, hiding and seeking in the inner recesses of the reclining chair in the corner, amusing themselves with the folds of my makeshift blanket curtain and the various debris about my room...you could tell they were having a blast with each other.
And Edward herself had a darling personality. She was always playful and alert, while at the same time remaining endearing. When she was asleep, her body slowly rose and fell with each inhaling and exhaling breath. Then when she finally awoke, it was immediately back into her curious and excitedly playful attitude which she always had. She had ears that were a little large for her size, but just added to the overall character that she had.
...I'm going into too much detail here. The fact of the matter is that we all loved her; Ryan, Fallon, and I loved that tiny feline dearly, but she still had sadly go. We'll miss her, all of us will--Bo, Mo, and Mia especially. I'll just stop being spoony/sappy with those details there before I start getting down about thinking about her.
Well after Fallon left, I called work to apologize for missing that 10:30 appointment which I had with my manager. I, um...was supposed to have woken up, but I still didn't. Amy's response was that she just thought that I didn't care about my job. I apologized for having not woken up, and she just told me that she would see me at 4 when
I went in. Apparently I slept really horribly that night. At 3:30 before I went to work, I felt exhausted.
In other news, after Fallon left, until I had to go to work, I played Gameboy Advance. Whee.
I finally left for work, forgetting to shave and grab my hat and belt. Darnit...of all the days.... I showed up, smiled, was cheerful, even to Amy, who I knew only had bad news for me. Charles was there as well. He seemed to do okay. In response to asking what position I was in, as well as any other question I had, the only response I received was, "Just talk to Amy first."
I was in trouble. Nay, I was dead. ...well...I didn't quite think that far at the time, but I knew I was in trouble. Finally after possibly twenty minutes of milling around up front helping out the people with their orders, I was finally invited back into the office. Charles was leaning against the cabinets, Amy was sitting at the desk chair. They closed the door.
"So what's up?" Amy started. It was an attempt at a friendly introduction into the fateful, dreaded conversation, and it missed its mark entirely. Before I could respond, she launched into the whole reason she had wanted to see me in the first point. The first issue which she got out of the way was how I didn't show up that morning. I apologized. She criticized me asking if I thought it was important. I said it was and apologized. She continued criticizing.
...I'll cut to the chase, you don't want to hear that cheese. After finally getting that issue out of the way, she and Charles went into the issue of my performance. She talked about me being slower than the others. She talked about a couple complaints she received (all from Sunday, from what I heard...that was just a bad day for me, to tell you the truth...but anyways, I'll stop the excuses there). She said she'd given me more than a fair chance to shine. She said that she didn't see any improvement from my evaluation. She said that she had given me plenty of time. I explained to her my situation, that lately I wasn't doing well, and actually had lately been somewhat depressed at times (read the cruddy entry a few posts ago for details on that, blargh), and lived in an unstable frame of mind as of late. She and Charles nodded, both understanding. After some more conversation, she gave more or less gave me this altimatum: either quit now or quit in two weeks.
Crud!! What the heck?! ...well...the shock wore off quickly, though, and I knew, and you loyal readers knew too, that it would probably eventually come down to this. I was unhappy there, I wasn't doing well, and to me it was more a metaphorical punch in teh face (teh) than anything (I'd even told Charles this, on one occasion; he found the analogy amusing).
I wanted to find a new job, sure...but I didn't want to lose this one. Not before I was ready...not yet...not now. But there it was. The general consensus was unanimous amongst those in charge of such matters: I wasn't to work there anymore.
There was a slightly consoling aspect to this ordeal, though. They...didn't want to. Many times Charles said, "I've fired some people and didn't think twice about it. They were jerks. I didn't care about them getting fired. But Mikey...you're a nice guy. And that's why I don't want to do this." Amy slightly hinted at the same consent, but refused to say it outright. Charles kept emphasizing I was a nice guy. Throughout my whole life people have emphasized that I was a nice guy. But I ask myself if I'd actually accomplished a lot of anything. In all the jobs I've been in, in most of the group projects which I've done...I've been just another guy there instead of an integral or essential part, aside from that with which I'd been assigned. Am I actually an integral person? Am I that important that things would fall apart if I wasn't here? If I were to take the advice of some folk here on the internet and just up and "leave my world behind", would this area actually be affected much? I'm a soon-to-be 21 year-old guy...nay...soon to officially be a man now, and what do I have to show for it? I go on the internet, talk to people, look for things to do, hang out on irc a lot, work at Wendy's (used to, at least), took two semesters of college, but only passed four of my classes total in that time, had a mediocre history in high school, don't see too many people on a regular basis...I've not made anything of myself. Some might dare even call me a "loser". Now I'm not trying to put myself down or anything, I'm just stating a fact on the current status of what's happening in my life. Trust me, I'm not going to let this livejournal turn into another one of those stereotypical ones that just whine about how the author's life "sucks", "I hate my dad", blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, angst.
I'm just saying...I need to get on the ball. I've no job lined up for me except that of unemployment. I'm hoping to get a job over at Lowe's, which they're building quite close to my parents' house, or I might possibly have a job over at Cub Foods, which Fallon is getting a job at, and kindly offered me a job over there as well. O~r...I might also possibly be getting a job at Speedway, right there on 30. ...for those familiar with the Valparaiso area, yes, that is the one right by Wendy's, yes, that is the Wendy's I work at.... But the girl I talked to there is actually quite nice, and to tell you the truth I do think that she is pretty. Her and I have talked a couple times after I've gotten off of work. And last night after leaving I stopped there and found out they were looking for people, and when I mentioned to her I had uber (uber!!) people skills from working at that Christian bookstore those years ago, she said that the job would probably be cake for me then. I like cake.
But...yeah, I do need a job. I keep on thinking back to Craig's list.... For those of you who haven't heard of that, I would like to direct you to this link, where some major city around you posts jobs or opportunities for those abled and qualified to take.
In other news, my roommate Ryan also refers to himself as "Craig" on the internet. Yay irc!
...getting back to the incident, I quietly nodded and told her I understood. A couple times during the conversation, she iterrated the line, "We're running a business, not a charity." And it is true. If they have something holding the team back, that obstacle needs to be removed. But darn, man...it just hurts actually being the obstacle and thought to be a bother. I honestly gave it my all over there. I gave 100% every time I went in. I was getting paid by them! Why wouldn't I? But that 100% was nothing compared to what they expected, and I fell short their standard. A loser is Mikey.
Charles eventually left to go take care of the business outside which was picking up, while Amy stayed to talk to me a little bit. It was then that she showed her compassionate side. "I don't want this to add to all the other stuff going on in your life," she started out. She said that upon receiving a phone call wondering about a reference for my employment at their establishment, she would give a nice reference. She wouldn't say anything demeaning. She would tell them that I worked out my two-weeks. She told me she didn't want things to go like this, but she saw that it was the way it had to happen. She was the general manager, and she would sometimes have to make decisions that neither she nor others would like, but they would have to be carried out. And I knew that apparently I had grown to be a weak link, so she would have to remove that obstacle. ...I don't like being an obstacle, though.... I don't like being considered a bother. :(
I understood her position and accepted her decision. It was all I could do. She said she didn't like it. I understood. For the rest of the night, I had a quite sadness to me. I didn't talk much. My speech was usually quiet and I usually said a bare minimal. My co-workers, for the first time actually having grown close to people I had worked with...were shocked to hear that I had been forced to put in my two-weeks notice. I was surprised too, seeing that our closing crew doesn't have too many people at the moment in the first place, but Amy decided to make this decision, and that is where it landed. Nothing I could do to contest it, really.
At a point during the night, Charles came up to me to tell me to go on break. I shocked him by glomping him at that point. I've made it a goal to glomp every single manager there before I leave. I've gotten most of them.... But, well, that was before things went bad like this. I got myself a triple since we're offered up to $5 worth free food and a small frosty, then went outside to eat in a small patch of grass in the back by the fence, dotted with a couple trees. I sat there in the grass as the sun was going down on the horizon, and stared at my food for a little bit. For the first time in my life, I actually saw the items sitting there as merely produced-and-given items instead of individual items in and of themselves. On the right was my triple, made strictly to company guidelines, then wrapped up in an aluminum wrapping and handed out. It was just like the millions before it and it will be like the millions to come. On the left side was a frosty, made in a 12-ounce cup, filled to the brim with low-fat chocolate ice cream mix, brought to its thick texture by a machine. Millions and millions of gallons of frosty mix are produced, and each frosty is essentially the same. In between these two was a plastic-wrapped spoon, of which plenty and plenty were made. I mean...they plastic-wrapped spoons. And all this sat on a mass-produced plastic tray with a mass-produced paper tray lining advertising the fact that Wendy's was open late. I wasn't a unique flower or anything; I was merely part of a mass-produced machine churning out mass-produced items to the public. I was part of an army of Wendy's...nay, an empire. The Dave Thomas empire, I always called it.
Dave Thomas was a great guy. Yes, he was a Christian, but he did something with his life. He did something big. He started a successful restaurant chain that was wildly popular, and also he did things to change many people's lives, namely orphans (he was an orphan too, f.y.i.). He made a huge difference in the world. He was a great man. That's why I wanted to work for Wendy's in the first place; it was the only available job started by somebody who had a great and beautiful dream. Seeing that now, I see that I don't want to just work and be a nameless number in the masses, I want to do something with my life. I'd like to make a difference in this world. I want to help people. I want to change at least one person's life forever for the better. If I were to do that, then I would have lived a full life. And if I could do it for even more people, then that would be all much the better.
I finished my break and went back to work, all the rest of the night being quite uneventful. I finally came back to the apartment to find my roommates asleep. It was a pity...I wanted to talk to them about it. I...just wanted a hug. I still want a hug. I need a hug. Really. :(
I think I'll finish this entry now. It turned out that I rambled a whole lot in this entry, but hey...this was something big and important to me. This is a big event in my life; I can't just say it happened and that be it! Learn from my experiences, people! I'm not writing this stuff for nothing!
It was the finishing blow. It knocked me back, as my hand swung towards the sky reaching for some unknown far-off object as I keeled backwards. I hit the dusty ground in what seemed like slow motion, but it hit me hard. Pow.
Around me I could still hear the sound of fighting going on. It hadn't lessened, it hadn't intensified. It had gone on as it normally had whether or not I had been there. I didn't make much of any kind of difference...I was nobody there. I closed my eyes, feeling my life flow out of me, letting the darkness of defeat and oblivion embrace me.
The warm wind swept complacently over me across the battlefield. I wasn't strong enough. I had been weak. This fighting was not natural for me, and I couldn't train myself for it. I had failed. This was a fight I could not, nor ever would when.
It is always darkest before the dawn. It is in these moments that people say they sometimes hear a voice, be it a whisper or something inside them engaging one in an inner dialogue. "Get up," it gently but firmly said to me. "You were not meant to be here, this fight was not yours to win. You have a calling elsewhere. You are indeed a strong fighter, but this battle is so small compared to where you really do belong. Get up...your life goes on."
I slowly opened my eyes.