I get punched by random black guys all the time.
I wish I were kidding, but it’s true.
I was in a fight in 1989. It was pretty cool, I was tripping on acid and defended my home and women from a drunken intruder. I threw his ass down the stairs and left him half-paralyzed for six months. Sure, I felt like a tough guy, but it was silly, and it cost me an already-dead friendship. I’ve never been much of a scrapper, preferring to talk my way out of things. It’s worked well for twenty-five years.
But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do…
I’ve always been a creature of habit. When I find something that works, I stick with it. This can lead to ruts. I dislike ruts. This year has been a season of change. A LOT has changed. But, as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
This is the story of my 99-cent Ironman watch, and how it’s on its third life…
Man, I hate working days.
For thirty-plus years, I have worked nights. I love the swing shift. People off work and partying, they come to me for beer, cigarettes, and the things that make you not smell like beer and cigarettes. They stumble in, laugh, move on. It’s not like that in the daytime. Suits with entitlements are my biggest nemesis, along with the salesmen who try to dump unauthorized product on me when bosses aren’t around. I can tell a crackhead to piss off. If I say that to a guy in a suit, he has a “meaningful chat” with my boss, and I get a lecture about poor customer service.
Dr T’s hours have changed. He’s working a lot of the shifts I used to work. I’ve been cool with that. It’s an okay fit, although I think he prefers an earlier hour. I like that when I’m downtown on my off time, I can wander in and give him an obnoxious earful and he has to stay and listen.
Grinder has been pushing his authority, “getting his stink on things” as Uncle Cliffy puts it. Uncle Cliffy has been promoted to “Store Supervisor”, a new position that means he does manager work at part-time pay. It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it. He and Eva Braun, the new “Store Supervisor” of The Mothership, are hitting it off, forming a new alliance. All these kids I’ve trained and gotten jobs now outrank me.
Rumpole has worked day shift. I was put on graveyard for a couple weeks. I’ve done some day shifts, but this week is ridiculous. Grinder’s schedule-making skills need polishing in the worst way, it’s like he throws a handful of color-coded darts at the time-sheet and says, “Here ya go!” For example, tonight I work until midnight, or 2:45 AM if Dr T doesn’t check his phone messages. Or hasn’t paid his phone bill. Then I am scheduled back at 9 AM at The Mothership for an all-day shift during Cinco de Mayo. At least it’ll be busy.
Rain came by last night, after calling me to say she’d be on the last bus. It was like old times; she did her thing on the bed while I watched the rerun of the Blazers game. She wore my Oregon Lottery promo shirt and a pair of see-through panties. She had to leave early, and I wish she could have stayed a bit longer. She was looking mighty fine in them hip-huggers.
I would have invited her back tonight, except for that whole “be on deck at 9 AM” thing. When I told Meg what was up, she said, “I’ll just expect you.” So tonight, after work and before work, I have a slumber party date with my mistress. She promised to make me dinner. If I can do anything to relieve her stress, I will be happy to do so. I shaved and put on clean underwear. Fancy!
And then, after work, if she’s around, I will invite Rain home to cozy up for a night. Crazy as it sounds, I’ve missed her.
And so begins my 16 in 26 shift. I’ll see you at the end of it. Yes, that’s a rocket in my pocket.
And yes, I am happy to see you.
People ask me, “Aren’t you scared?” when crazy incidents happen at work.
For the most part, no. I have seen (and done) a lot in my thirty-plus years as a cashier. I had another ‘first’ last week, in fact. (More on that later.) What happened, that wasn’t a first, but hasn’t happened in a long time, is…
I got punched in the face.
Much like Rob Ford, I guess I got some ‘splainin’ to do.
Rain, and a few other loved ones, have been getting quizzed about me and my current ‘condition.’ See, I have lost a LOT of weight over the past year. I have been spotted scurrying around downtown. So what’s the question?
“Hey Rain, is he doing meth?”
I am here to address questions regarding my drug abuse…
It took two weeks, but we finally had The Talk.
After the initial blow-up and subsequent eviction of my sorta-live-in girlfriend, I’d wondered if we’d be apart for a long time, if I’d see her again, or I’d be weak in the knees (or a couple feet higher, to be exact) and welcome her back with no consequence. It took several days for her to get up the nerve to visit me at work, and she stayed close to the door in case I blew up at her. She knows I have a temper, and would never hit her, but I don’t think she was ready for the verbal onslaught I am capable of when righteously pissed. She made sure there was someone around, just in case.
On the two-week anniversary of me putting her out, she showed up at the store…
This has been quite a summer. Despite a couple medical setbacks, (which turned out to work in my favor) I have been having the time of my life. I’d document more, but there just hasn’t been time.
Rain is still living with me. The “breakup” lasted about a day and a half, in which time instead of going off to live with the ex like she’d said, she went and slept “under the bridge”. (That is a euphemism for where she sleeps when she’s outside at night. You’re not getting the real location.) After texting and reassuring me that “everything is like it was” and “you need to quit worrying so much”? I did…
Management knows I’m a night-owl. When I saw myself scheduled at 10 AM on a Tuesday, for a four-hour shift, I smelled some sort of payback for an unknown transgression. What did I do to deserve this? I pointed out to both Uncle Cliffy and Grinder that it was akin to scheduling them from 1 AM to 5 AM on a Sunday. “So, when I show up, hair all fucked up, scowling and needing coffee, that’ll be why.” I don’t do mornings. I hate sales reps, and office workers are often cranky. Give me happy crackheads and wandering lost souls any day.
My first lost soul lost out on breakfast. I took away his pilfered candy bar and harangued him out the door. Uncle Cliffy belly-bumped him to the sidewalk. Two co-workers looked on and took turns shouting him down while I “called the police.” I went inside, put on my work shirt, took a deep breath and went back outside. “I called the ‘real’ police. Fuck Clean & Safe.”
Lost Soul started walking. The Real Police could mess up his day.
Uncle Cliffy commented, “You’re awfully chipper considering the hour?”
“Meth is a hell of a drug,” I muttered. “Just kidding!” I said as I saw his brow furrow. “My nose has been powder-free since 1996.”
His brow had only begun to furrow, because just as calm was restoring, in walked Angel. The bosses have yet to figure out that we only behave when unsupervised. The two of us, with authority figures present and co-workers to witness?
Holy poop on a stick…
A lot has happened this summer. It has been a great year, despite a couple setbacks and some rocky romantic times. I have been meaning to document as I go, but life has been a whirlwind.
I’m putting my best foot forward these days.
Normally this is where I would make the jump, and you would read the rest of this post. Well guess what? I’m saving the jump for last, much like a hesitant suicide. Drastic comparison? Maybe, but wait until you see the pictures. It looks like a stunt pussy from Girls & Gore, or like a baby zombie used the top of my foot for a pacifier.
Yes, I’m having medical issues again. SPOILER ALERT: I live, and it’s almost all better. So I can gross you out o’plenty without you worrying if I lose a toe. Relax, I’m not a member of the Nine-Spot Club just yet.
Only because I am blessed. Thank you, Providence Portland.
It started with what looked like a pimple on top of my left foot. It grew, and I couldn’t tell if it was a boil or a spider bite. (I am a member of the Save the Spiders gang. Unless they’re in bed with me, I catch them and take them outside.) Rain has been sleeping with me, and any bugs in my bed would be met with a comic horror reaction worthy of America’s Funniest Videos. So I was pretty sure it wasn’t a bug bite.
When I got home and looked at it, the main sore spot had formed a head. I squeezed and met resistance. I know better than to force matters, so I left it alone. As I stared at my foot, I watched a white spot form a few inches away from the sore spot. That’s not good.
I felt chills, then fever. I knew what was coming. I curled up in bed and made phone calls as soon as Providence opened Monday morning. Could they see me before work, pop this THING, and give me some antobiotics? Simple, right?
Not so much.
As the day moved on and the doctors conferred, it appeared that I would not be going to work. Since I hadn’t ate, they could get a podiatrist to take me to surgery and do it right. Would I mind? I might miss a couple days work, but it would probably have to be done anyway.
Let’s do it. They gave me pain meds and told me to watch TV for a while.
Wish I’d known I was going to be gone overnight. I’d have brought a book, or my laptop. As it was, I was stuck with cable TV and old issues of the Wall Street Journal. Oh well, I had pain pills, and tincture! I went to my jacket and took several drops.
My nurse came in ten minutes later. “Let’s check your blood sugar. Oh, hmm. It went up twenty points. That’s odd.” She made a note. So did I. Note to self: No more tincture while they’re monitoring blood sugar. The stuff is straight glycerin, tastes like honey.
After a whole night of no food and delays, I got pissy. “I hurt from laying in bed. I’m going for a walk!” I put my vest (with all its stashed goodies) under my hospital gown and went to the hallway, pondering where I could sneak a quick puff.
As I chose a direction, a nurse told me, “You might want to go this way. Security is busy down that way.” I heard yelling from down the hall, and people with restraints were heading that way. Security is busy? Oh-kay!
I went to the smoking area, took two fast hits and popped three sticks of gum. I smelled like passionfruit when I made it back to bed. Security had contained its problem, and I was ready to watch TV for a while.
I killed time by talking to Rain, whom I’d left sleeping. Her intent was to meet me at work Monday night, but since I wasn’t around she just stayed put. I’d been thinking I needed to trust her more; no time like the present. She knows I won’t be home anytime soon, so I can assume she now knows EVERYTHING about my private life.
What did she ask? “I know you don’t want me to mess with your stuff, but I could clean the fuck outta this room while you’re gone.”
If I’d been there to supervise, I’d have let her. There is almost nothing hotter that Rain running around in panties and a wifebeater, cleaning house. I will have a fetish about that someday. I wasn’t worried about her finding anything, in fact I thought she’d be relieved that she didn’t find more creepiness. I am more normal than I appear.
I’d arrived about noon on Monday. Tuesday night about 9 PM I was taken to the basement on a gurney. I’d been waiting on the specialist to make an appearance for a day and a half. He came in, looking haggard and unamused, took a fast look and said, “We’ll slice and power-wash, give you some antibiotics and get you on the road again.” His exact words.
I sat in a room with the anesthesiologist, who updated me on the process. “We’re gonna use Propofol. We don’t want to put you completely under if we don’t have to.”
“Isn’t that the stuff that killed Michael Jackson?”
“When we administer it, we monitor you and use a drip method. We stop the drips when we are done. They were hitting him with large doses and leaving him alone. He was so sedated he forgot to breathe. Common in a lot of overdoses.”
“Doesn’t it look like milk?”
“Yes. We call it milk of amnesia.”
We talked a bit more. I blinked. The room seemed different. I looked around. I saw a bigger bandage on my foot. “Are we done?” I asked the anesthesiologist.
“We are done. There was a substantial pit of infection, but we cleaned it all out and packed it. The doctor will fill you in.”
I was still impressed with the Propofol. If the decor hadn’t changed I’d never known anything was done. Literally the blink of an eye.
The drugs. Aah, the drugs. I’ve been cautious in my use of opiates over the years, if for no other reason than to have something to fall back on when I’m old and want to get high on something new. (Or manage that whole pain thing.) This night’s narcotic dinner started with Dilaudid. I waited until it quit hurting, then asked for a little bit more. They wouldn’t give me an unmanageable dose, and I ain’t gonna get any of these drugs if Rain gets there first. Opiate vacation!
After Dilaudid came morphine. Both kept me warm and relaxed, but the nurse kept offering oxycodone. I held off, going for the IV drugs. Since I’ve had this goddamned needle in my arm for two days, might as well work it.
Then the nurse told me, “We can’t send you home with IV drugs. If you can take the oxy and the pain, we can pull that rig out of your arm, give you a bag of pills and send you on your merry way.”
“Well, let’s give them pills a shot, missy!”
My hospital room nurse, a self-deprecating Asian woman of about 25, came to me. “I just want to say that you have been an angel to take care of. You’ve shown incredible patience waiting so long, and I just want you to know how much I appreciate that.” She looked like she was ready to cry.
“Well, you haven’t given me anything to be upset about. You’ve done everything you could to make my stay an easy one. It’s been as pleasant as it could be, thanks to you.” That, and the way she took an extra long look at me when I was naked, then apologized. If I’m doing well enough to get a second glance from someone whose seen it all? I’ll take it!
I lost count of how many saline bags full of antibiotics were run through me. I felt bleached from the inside, like I’d been drinking gin for a couple months. The sickness had faded, I had a giant bandage on my foot that needed to stay on for three days. It seemed kinda loose, but the doctor knows what he’s doing, right? I left the hospital, caught the bus and planned to meet Rain downtown. She’d escort me home.
I transferred buses downtown, and made my way to Dr T’s store. He’d left for the day, so I grabbed a free soda to wash down a couple oxys and limped toward the bus stop.
That’s when the bandage came off.
So, there I am, standing in front of a cannabis clinic and sex club, in broad daylight, unwrapping, repacking and rebandaging my fresh surgical sore. I tucked the packing tape in best I could, wrapped the ace bandage in a way that it wouldn’t fall off after three blocks, and limped on.
If you limp on both legs, do they cancel each other out?
Dr T had given me the rest of the week off, so I went home to bed. I had a follow-up appointment on Friday. The doctor checked my bandage, rewrapped it, and told me not to change it until Tuesday, when I did a follow-up at the clinic with a nurse.
I made it almost to the bus stop before THIS bandage fell off.
I repacked with a piece of gauze, jamming it into the sore as best I could. Three days, huh? I managed to bag-and-tape securely enough to shower. That would be enough to keep Rain from moving out on me.
The nurses were horrified when I told them about the bandages, and my homemade packing job. “Well, you did fine, considering.” It looked like a Molotov cocktail sticking out of the top of my foot. “You need smaller packing tape, we don’t want the hole that wide.” I watched as she did her thing. “Would you like to come in and have us do this, or do you think you can handle it?’
“I’ve already done it twice on the sidewalk. At home, with proper equipment, oughta be a piece of cake.”
She fixed me a giant to-go bag of gauze, tape, saline, q-tips and another scrip for oxys. “I can’t believe he had you wait three days to change the gauze. It should be done at least once a day, maybe twice. And the wrapping! This is your foot, dude!” She was righteously pissed for me. I like that in a caregiver.
I returned a few days later. The nurse watched me unwrap, dress, pack and bandage my owie. “You’re an old pro. Just keep doing what you’re doing, and call if you have concerns, or if it starts acting up. Otherwise we are done!”
It’s been about a month, and I still have a bit of a hole. I’m down to my last two pain pills, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be getting any more. (Not unless I want my chart flagged as an abuser.) It’s cool; if I get much more attached to these pills I’ll be spoiling my moments on the porch. You know, when I’m the eighty-year-old guy on his last leg. I want some of that good dope to get me through those golden years….
Now, for those of you who think you’re tough enough, here are those pictures I was telling you about. I would not recommend looking right before an Italian dinner…
Dr T: “Our girl is getting interviewed by the boss today.”
Me: “No fuckin way. Updates PLEASE?”
Dr T: “You’ll be first to know.”
Me: “Picture happy dance! Can I train her? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE?”
ME: “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE?”
ME: “With sugar, whipped cream and a big fat cherry on top, PLEASE?”
Dr T: “No.”
Shit. Oh well.
A little while later I got a call at work from Master P. “I’m sending the new employee over to watch the videos. Will you let Uncle Cliffy know, and make sure she fills out her liquor test properly? Her name is Angel.”
“Yes sir!” I have never been happier to comply with boss’s orders. Because if you haven’t figured it out, I’ve got a thing for Angel…