It started out the day before, when a good friend of mine wanted to have dinner with me. This is a great guy going through some very difficult personal struggles with his family and origins, and the tone of his letter I misread almost as a sort of "I'm giving up, and going to kill myself," which I worried about all day (suspense relief: I was wrong). Then I found out Sean and Louann really needed a baby-sitter the next night, and I had always said I'd help out, so I volunteered. The next morning, I got up, and CR was really sick (suspense relief: he's better today), so Christine had to stay home in the midst of a work crisis (major theft ring discovered). Then I got to work, and something I had been planning for a while ... got denied. Then I got my review and raise, and it wasn't that great. I found out why I had been denied the previous thing, and it wasn't my fault, but made me seriously reevaluate things. Then I found out someone (upper management) was spreading untrue rumors that I was "hard to work with" and "don't listen to anyone's ideas," which I then asked around, and got the response I expected, "Who the hell told you that? You're the only one who cares... blah blah blah you're so easy-going blah blah blah the person who told you that is an ass.. blah blah blah work-cakes." I smile through gritted teeth when I am happy to get a raise and still be employed, and remind myself I have had worse (oh, by once being 24 x 7 on-call programmer for 13 call centers, getting paid squat, and being told I did a poor job but "It's okay, I told everyone that," by my boss who then recorded that in my permanent file, thus assuring promotions would never occur, so I finally quit and got a much better job). Then I got a letter from a good, longtime friend, that stated another mutual friend of ours, who had been in cancer remission for the last year, had gotten ill again. When she had a biopsy done, it showed that not only did the cancer come back, but it had spread to other organs. Requests for prayer were mentioned. Crap.
Then my day improved. My friend who I thought was going to tell me he had given up on his life, did NOT tell me that, and actually has progressed in his crisis, although he had recently lost two friends over it, who I think were assholes and total jerkwad snobs for not supporting him. Their loss. We also discussed how stupid people have pretty much ruined religion for everyone.
Then I baby-sat three kids, aged 9, 6, and 2. Two girls and a little boy. Sean and Lou's children are incredibly educated and well-mannered without being abnormally so. I used to baby-sit children as a teen, with mixed success, and so I got the gamut of a lot of kids. "Not abnormally well-mannered and educated" means that they are smart and polite, but act like pretty normal kids. I grew up with those that were "super-educated" and could quote you Faraday's Laws of Electromagnetic Induction by heart at age 6, and give three real-world examples, but were emotionally stunted at the level of a two-year old, because they never could identify with any kids their age, and thus, never learned valuable social skills. I also knew some kids who were well-mannered to the point of zombies with reflex gratitudes and programmed polite addresses to their elders that suggested they knew that any mistake would lead to a sudden beating with any random blunt object a parent could easily reach nearby. Maybe that's extreme, but it's heartbreaking to hear a kid go, "Yes sir," and then wince reflexively.
"Don't call me sir," said a customer to me once, "I work for a living." Heh. I say that now, although I stopped saying it to kids because some parents WANT their kids to say ma'am and sir.
I feel better now.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000390.html