The opposite of Catholic

Cheeseburgers in my dreams, and double cheeseburgers, and double bacon cheeseburgers … and I woke up on a pillow wet with drool. There was nothing in the dream but cheeseburgers — no people, no plot, not even a side of fries — just cheeseburgers. Juicy, charbroiled, sizzling cheeseburgers for me, but none for you, thanks.

I switched to a casual-vegetarian diet a few weeks ago. Meat is still allowed, but usually avoided, and I haven’t had much or maybe any. Hadn’t thought I was missing meat, but I guess I’m still the carnivore.

Today’s Friday, and I’ll be the opposite of Catholic — I’m eating meat, and lots of it, starting with fried Spam for breakfast.

♦ ♦ ♦

Babs was in her office today, and Darla was in hers, but neither of them wanted to hear anything about the duties I’m supposed to take over from Marcia. Important duties, I've been told, but I’m not allowed to learn it unless Babs and Darla are there, learning with me.

I sent an email at 9AM, to Babs and Darla and Marcia: “It’s Marcia’s last day. I’m supposed to take over her duties, but I haven’t been trained. This could potentially be a problem.” When no-one answered after half an hour, the zen washed over me and brought peace within. I am not going to be the only person who gives a damn, when people making triple my wages don’t.

♦ ♦ ♦

For Marcia’s last day, everyone in the office marched several blocks to Chevy’s. That’s a chain of quasi-upscale Mexican restaurants owned by Pepsi, the noted experts on Mexican cuisine. Pepsi also owns Taco Bell, and it’s the same food but priced higher. I’d never been to Chevy’s before, and can’t think of any reason to go there again, but we were paying our last respects to Marcia so there we were.

There were thirty of us talking too loud at six tables that had been dragged together. Everyone was eating so-so food and trying their darnedest to find something sociable to say to the idiots within earshot, when they weren’t badmouthing the other idiots who were farther down the tables.

Babs was there. Darla was there. They seemed to be avoiding me, or maybe I was avoiding them. It's hard to tell, but there was definitely avoidance.

Lunch with co-workers could've been awful, but thanks to Kallie, it wasn't that bad. She'd taken the day off to “get ready” for a concert she’s going to tonight (what the hell is Nine Inch Nails?), but she came in for Marcia's big going-away shindig. If not for Kallie, I would’ve been stuck between two people — pick almost any two — I don’t particularly like, and might have forgotten which idiots were which and badmouthed the senior executive across the table.

It’s a work event, so you’d expect the company to pay, but hah, not this company. One of the executives said she’d put it on her expense account, but when someone said “Thank you!” she explained, she meant she’d put her share of the tab on account, not the whole tab. Everything was divided unfairly — grand total + tip + Marcia’s lunch ÷ 30, the number of people present — so despite ordering the cheapest taco salad on the menu and a glass of water, my ‘share’ of the bill was almost $13. 

Last time we had one of these office events, the same thing happened, so I should’ve known. I’ll remember it next time, though, and either let them go to lunch without me, or stuff my fat face.

♦ ♦ ♦

After lunch ... still no reply from Babs or Darla or Marcia. 

 And now, two hours later, Marcia is gone forever in an hour and a half. I chuckled under my breath and returned to my work.

There’s a tendency, I think, to assume that responsibility goes to responsible people, and people in authority must know what they’re doing. The evidence suggests that’s a misnomer — not just at work, but in Congress, in a hospital, in a church, everywhere — the people in charge tend to be idiots, or crooks.

Well, I’ll say this for Babs and Darla: They’re not crooks.

Marcia, though, is that rarity — a responsible adult. At about 3:45 she came to my desk, and handed me twenty photocopied pages, stapled, all filled with her tidy handwriting.

“These are my notes,” she said, “and I’ve added some notes to my notes. It’s all the things I do, in detail, and I think you’ll be able to figure it out.”

“Thank you,” I said, surprised. I flipped through a few pages — short, legible 1-2-3 lists, with some red-ink writing she’d added after photocopying. I asked, “Do Darla and Babs have a copy of this?”

“Nnnnope,” she said, and smiled. 

“Do they know that I have your notes?”

“Nnnnope,” she said again. “If you have any questions, just ask, any time until 5:00.”

I said thank you again, then ignored my ordinary work and skimmed the notes. Everything’s there, I think. The size of the list is daunting, but all the individual items seem to make sense, and what she’s added for me seems very helpful.

Here’s one: “This query is run every Monday PM, put the printout in Mike’s in-box,” with instructions on how to run the query. It's about fifty words in Basic, and Darla added the note, “If it doesn’t work you made a typo, try again.” I tried that particular query, and it worked, after fixing two typos I'd made, so yeah, I think I can do all these things.

I’m not sure I will, though.

My desk has no drawers that lock, so I put Marcia’s notes in one of the filing cabinets, in a folder with some real estate documents that have nothing to do with our department’s work. Nobody but me will know it's there.

A few minutes before 5:00, I said goodbye and “Thank you again” to Marcia. I’m not a wordy guy in person, and in the couple of years we’ve worked together, me and Marcia said maybe fifty words to each other. I wasn’t even sure I liked her, until this afternoon.

♦ ♦ ♦

Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I’m free at last. That’s the feel of riding the elevator down and out of the office on any Friday afternoon.

Tonight I celebrated by taking the L train to the zoo. Standing room only, of course, because that's what you get on Muni. Didn’t actually go into the zoo — all the caged animals are too depressing — but I walked around across the street, and had three chili dogs at the Doggie Diner.

Then I took the next L downtown again, enjoying the city scenery out the window. There were lots of seats on the inbound ride, since it’s rush hour but I was rushing to and everyone else was rushing away.

♦ ♦ ♦

Mom left another message on my machine, so I called back and left another message on her machine, but not as nice this time. “You asked me to call you, but didn’t say why. I called, and I’ve called several times, and you call me back and just say ‘Please call me’ again. it’s $1.80 in coins every time, so I’m not calling again unless you call and tell me why I’m calling, not just ‘Please call me’.”

♦ ♦ ♦

At home, I topped off dinner with vanilla ice cream over Spam. You're thinking that sounds disgusting, right? Well, you're right. It was disgusting, but I'd had meat for all three meals and I wanted meat for dessert, and I'll try almost anything once.

From Pathetic Life #5
Friday, October 14, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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  1. Catholics are allowed to eat meat on Friday, since long ago. It's just tradition now, not an edict from the pope.

    1. Good to know, and the pope can kiss my flabby backside & I'll eat what I choose.

  2. You did not really have ice cream and spam.

    1. I cannot say for sure if Doug is being truthful.

      But.. I wouldt try it, and I think he would as well. Because, honestly, what does it fucking matter? You try a weird food combination. It's either good or bad. You file it away in your memory hole, and act accordingly in the future. I think Spam and Vanilla ice cream would be awful, but who knows?


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