Monday, July 1, 2013

Keyword, Sustain

Sleep Journal #2

1 July 2013


So I got 5 good hours of sleep last night, went to bed about 10:30 and after the kids jumped on me for kisses, RJ wanted to turn on the lights one more time and show me how he had jacked up his baby toe, then got kisses from the wife also, and snuggled with sick cat, I must have gotten a good 5 hours of sleep. Just over five hours. And then woke up at 4AM.


But I did it. Got up, turned off alarm, and there was a moment. There was a moment when I was heading back to my bedstand to get my glasses that I thought for a moment – I could just get right back into bed and sleep. I could reset my alarm, get right back in bed and sleep. For a good hour and a half. Could get myself a good hour and a half of extra sleep, wake up at 5:30 and rush out of house with a fresh cup of coffee, kicking myself that I missed my workout. Again.


But I didn’t.


I got my glasses, and turning back, walking away from the bed, and went downstairs to turn on the tube and wake up to the Early, Early Show on NBC, drinking the last half cup of coffee that was saved for me in the potreheated in the microwave.


The trick, or at least part of the trick, is getting my bag packed the night before. With the clothes I’m going to wear at night. And so that takes a little planning. A little forethought.


But then that’s it! Because too much forethought and I am not sleeping again. Too much forethought and I am going over what needs to be done tomorrow, and next week, and what my kids need to do, and how I am going to pay for it (that’s a big one), and thinking about my wife and her family, and my mom and my dad, and my brothers, and especially my older brother much more recently. Well, over the past couple years. Guy just can’t quit putting poison in his body.


And there but by the grace of god go I. And even by the grace of my brotherMy older brother, Pat. Used to drive me all the way across town in the morning to the rehabIn his little white Dodge Colt. Would brave the bay area morning commuter traffic and drive me up the 101 to the 280 connector where we’d get stuck. I think listening to Fishbone or Tribe Called Quest. He would drive me all over.


I remember when I quit my job at the call center in the middle of the shift – just walked right out – he came and picked me up. And then we went for drinks.


It was a bullshit job. My job was to sit in this cubicle, with hundreds of other poor sacks who needed work, and field calls from people all over the United States. People calling about some automated voice mail they had accidentally signed up for.


And why did these people sign up for this extremely usefulalbeit steep priced, voicemail service? Well, most had called a free psychic hotline and did not get past the prompt that told them that if they continued to hear their free reading they would be signed up for this voicemail service.


There were three services available – one at 19.99 a month, one at 29.99 a month, and a third at 39.99 a month. And most people did not bother to call us to cancel until they had acquired at least two month’s cycle of charges. Or three. And it was getting expensive. And it was our job to get them to sustain these charges.


I could just as easily drop the charges for them, but it was my paycheck at stake. And there was some bonus offered us employees if we got the most sustained charges to our account.


So we had dumbfuck hicks from Florida and Georgia and Mississippi and other places too, some from the north, but they were mostly calling from the deep, deep south. And they had called this free psychic hotline and got themselves signed up for this service. Sometime two or even three of the services.


So I would have poor southerners calling with $200 to $300 dollars of charges (or more!) that was my job to get them to pay. And if they needed to, I could cancel the service for them and work out some sort of debt resolution for them. But that wasn’t encouraged.


Or I could just eliminate their entire debt completely.


That was the route I wanted to go. And so I did. After about 2-1/2 weeks of this, I was just eliminating people’s debt if they got through to me …


“Hello, thank you for calling Fucked-by-a-Psychic Phone Service. We’ll give you voice mail service without the hassles of a reacharound here at FBP.”


“Oh yes, I am calling because I did not sign up for this. And I want to cancel this service. Also I cannot pay this $200 bill I seen in the mail. My son needs diapers and formula and I cannot afford it with this bill I have to pay.


And that was where I was supposed to say, okay I understand your issues and I will cancel your service but can we work out a payment plan? Can you pay at least half?


But instead I just said – “Okay, I’ll cancel you from the service and I’ll even eliminate your bill.”


No, said my boss. The keyword was Sustain. Sustain as many charges as you could. Sustain. We need the money. Do you like having a paycheck? Well that’s how you’re going to get it. Sustain.


Okay, thanks.


And so after Monday night football weekends became too much, starting on Thursday with games going through Friday, and the drinks coming on stronger and faster, and then into Saturday. And then Sunday with three games and lots of drinks to carry us into a Monday, my weekends became 5 days long. With the work week being just Tuesday and Wednesday. Yes, my drinking was getting the better of me. And yes, I had a conscience. And no, I was not going to sustain the charges for these poor bastards. I didn’t care how stupid and superstitious they were. No boss, they did not deserve it.


Because that was what he would say – they’re idiots and they deserve it. They shouldn’t have called something like this for free and expecting it to be free. They should have paid closer attention to the prompts. They should not have ever called this. They should not even believe they could ever get help from a psychic. They’re stupid and they deserve it. And that is what he would say to me.


I know, its only money. But sometimes that’s just what people need – to pay their rent, put food on the table. To get their baby new shoes. Money.


And last night, it was a great Monday night game. I don’t know who won. I don’t even know who played! But I was loaded. And I am still loaded, here at work – on a Tuesday morning … when I get up, 10 minutes before my first break, and I say – this is complete bullshit, I fucking quit!


And so I call my brother, tell him to come pick me up, throw off my goddamn headset, didn’t even log out, and just went and pushed the glass doors open, walked outside into the sun and kicked up dust … waiting. For that white Dodge Colt to come pick me up.


And then I think we went for drinks. The Evergreen S'loungePedros. Mexico Lindo. The Hideaway. Mountain Mike’s. Wherever. Didn’t matter, it was all good. Behind the Quick-E Mart. Didn’t matter, it was a drink.


So then maybe 6 months later and he is driving me to the rehab in Santa Clara at 7AM, braving that traffic. Bay area sun streaking through windshield. Me with my foot up on dash, leaning back, listening to whatever it was at the time. Could have been Melvins, Charlie Mingus, Utah Phillips. Maybe it was just radio. Maybe it was KFJC, wave of the west.


Me smoking cigarettes. He never minding, even though he never smoked. Patrick always said that people who smoke are more interesting than those who don’t.


And now I don’t. And I gotta get up at 4AM to hit that gym. For my spinning class.

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