I resigned from my job, yesterday.
When I was a child, I always thought that resignations were the distinct province of older white men who worked for fifty years at important companies, and were rewarded at day’s end with a signet pen and a bottle of aged brandy.
As an adult, I, of course, realize that a resignation is what parents have when they accept that their nearly 30 year old daughter prefers a boozy night out to a domesticated night in; or, in my case, what one says to her wonderful boss to mean, “I quit this bitch—only not today,” whilst walking out on a perfectly good job in the middle of a recession.
But more on that, later.
Though I didn’t realize it at their respective times, I bore witness to two events, this week, which ultimately proved the catalysts for my untimely bow out:
Wednesday, September 8, 2010. 7:45 pm. Alexandria, Virginia.
I decided to take some work home, and had parked my car curbside to easily transport the box of files I‘d, in all likelihood, ignore. Upon my return to the office, I heard a rustling noise from the far end of the hallway.
There he was.
The short, gold-toothed man of the cleaning crew.
Now, sadly, like most members of professions who occupy fancy office spaces, I’d never taken particular note of the cleaning crew or Gold Tooth; never offered Gold Tooth more than a smile, and a general “hello/goodnight” in the two years time that I’d worked at my firm. I didn’t know his name, or if he had children. I didn’t know if he enjoyed his job; if he’d drawn a correlation between my fondness for late night Thai takeout and my ever-expanding hips while dispensing with the trash.
But all of that was forgotten, as I stood there, in that new moment, immobilized, watching him with avid fascination.
He was attempting to prop open the glass door of the business at the end of the hall.
Only, he wasn’t using a doorstop.
He wasn’t even using a brick, or heavy box.
He was using……
He was using two watermelons.
Or attempting to, rather.
You see, he’d get the door open and pushed to the side, and secured with one watermelon.
Then, he’d rush to get the other watermelon.
By the time he’d gotten back to square one with the second watermelon, the door was slamming with the first watermelon.
And it was slamming with force, too.
Like, it was sending Watermelon One rolling all the way down the hallway.
Then Gold Tooth would let out a curse, put down Watermelon Two, go rush off after Watermelon One, and start the whole thing all over, again.
As God is my judge, I watched him go on in this fashion for no less than two minutes before sparing him one last look, and a confused shaking of my head.
Enter life’s lesson number one:
Contrary to popular belief, most shit doesn’t make sense.
Our thinking that there is a determined model of how things are supposed to be is not a product of empirical fact as much as it is a general rationalization of something we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.
Thursday, September 9, 2010. 9:30 am. Alexandria, Virginia.
I was getting coffee at my neighborhood 7-11. Having been up since 7, dealing with the legal problems endemic to a society that permits marriage between two idiots but not two men, I wasn’t in the best of moods, and didn’t bother to look up when the usual band of ne’er do wells attempted to woo me with their early morning bird-doggery.
I was determinedly fixated on the perfect cup of Colombian roast, waiting impatiently for a fresh pot. As I stood there, staring angrily at the stainless steel java station, this loud woman entered the store, jovially greeting everyone with her raspy time-worn voice. Her movements were all at once shuffled and fast, blurry, but noticeably clumsy. She was about 55, and wore a dirty tee shirt and mom jeans, and a wig I would have easily described as the worstwigever prior to my move to DC (whose intimate familiarity with tragic wiggery has given me a newfound appreciation for the hair Afghanistan* that sat atop this woman’s head). Today I realize that hers wasn’t the worstwigever. It was just peasely/natty/nappy as FUCK.
Her outside voice belied an ease with the “s” consonant of which I took particular offensive note. I looked up to identify the source of my audio derision. There she stood, next to me, happily pouring old coffee into a cup and flooding same with milk and sugar; loud talking all the while, in a manner of speech marrying Daffy Duck with runaway slave. She had approximately four teeth in her mouth.
Directing her conversation to a passerby I assumed she knew, she said, “I’m just trying to run these quick errands. Git these quick thangs. You know I gotta pick Mama up from her dialysis.”
I glanced over at the “quick thang” she was toting with her. It was a 12 pack of Natural Light.
She amicably chatted with the person at the station, making certain to mention two more times that she was in a rush to “pick Mama up from her dialysis.” It took everything within me not to roll my eyes or groan as I stood there waiting for the coffee I was certain would save some unexpected person from an unmerited curse out upon my entry to the office.
I nearly did a praise dance when I’d finally secured a cup.
Recalling that my assistant had asked me to bring her a pack of gum, I debated ,briefly, about what flavor she’d like before remembering that she was my assistant, and I truly didn’t give a fuck. Grabbing a packet of Big Red, I approached the cash register only to find myself behind the loud talking lacefront offender.
I once more fought the urge gouge my eyes out as she requested a pack of Parliaments and deliberated with her friend about which lottery tickets to purchase.
The doors opened, again, and the loudtalker eagerly greeted the new patron.
“Cousin!!!” she shouted (or said in a decibel natural to her).
“Hey, gal!” the woman replied.
The new woman appeared to be cut of the same cloth as the loud talker, and she inquired about Loud Talker’s comings and goings and the health of her mother.
She began, “Girl, what chu doin’ in here? Girl, look at you drankin that beer this early. I ain’t gon’ say nothin’. You know I ain’t gon say nothin’. How’s yo’ kin? How’s yo’ mama?”
Quite naturally, Loud Talker obliged her with the information she had been supplying the whole store, about her need to quickly complete her errands. “Chile, go on! You know I ain’t drankin’ this water beer, chile. If I was drankin’, you know it’d be the bull, girl. You know I only mess with the bull. This here is for Miss Dena. You know I gotta hurry up cause Miss Dena gets her dialysis on Thursday, now.”
That’s when it hit me.
Miss Dena = Mama.
Mama = Miss Dena.
Loud Talker was in a rush to pick up beer for her old ass mother who she was also picking up from her dialysis treatment. At 9:30 am.
Enter life’s lesson number two:
There comes a time-
in every adult person’s life-
giving a fuck.
Sometimes, the only shit that matters, is that shit don’t matter.
On Friday, September 10, 2010, at 7:15 am, I walked into my beautiful, wonderful boss’s office, looked him dead in the eye, and rejected nearly thirty years of indoctrination in favor of my own personal road less travelled.
It didn’t make perfect sense.
It didn’t have to.
I’d stopped giving a fuck.
*Afghanistan—Aff.gan.i.stan. n. A country in the Middle East bordering Iran and Pakistan; a generally fucked up situation.