Is this Love?

So here I am–in high school 1998. North Surrey.  Wow, I feel like chanting “Let’s Go Spartans!”

As I approached graduation I was at a loss as what I should do with my life.  I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted.

I went to school.  That is what I did.  I was a student.  That’s what I was.  I had classmates that I called friends.  I had a car and people liked that.  McDonald’s wasn’t across the street back then.

And it was all coming to an end…

Now I had to choose the rest of my life.  What would I do.  Who would I be?  Wait… If I’m not going to be a student in a bit, then I am not really a student now…then who am I?…

Oh shit.

To many, we are our jobs.  If you’re a doctor, you’re no longer a Mr. or Ms. or Mrs.–you’re Dr. Somebody.  Well I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t like school other than it was entertaining.  I didn’t do homework very often–or classwork.  I did very well on tests and usually managed to stay on the Honor Roll without much effort so university was technically an option–eventually.  But for what?  I was lost.  The last thing I needed to do was dart off at full speed in a random direction like Forrest fucking Gump.

I didn’t have a single friend at graduation.  I didn’t go to grad with anybody.  I didn’t meet up with my friends and take a limo.  Graduation solidified groups.  I was an outsider.  I was never really part of any group–ever.  I drifted.  I wasn’t cool.  I wasn’t ‘alternative” or grunge, or in the school band.  I didn’t dress any way.  It was pre-emo.

I ended up getting a job at a sawmill.  No they don’t make saws.  They cut wood.  It made good money–almost $40,000 in my first year.  I bought a black Mustang.  I had money in the bank.  RRSPs.  Great credit.  I wasn’t a loser.  I found a private college that taught custom audio and video and went to school for $200 an hour.

Since I was a child I have used music as an escape.  I remember sitting on the floor with a set of huge headphones on blasting Michael Jackson.  Before long, boredom and curiosity led me to take apart my speakers and modify them.  Now I could get paid to do it.

I sort of invented a new way to chop light wood faster–way faster–like adding one more guy to a three man crew.  It was tough but we cut lots and made lots of CHA CHING!.  I got injured from overwork–tendonitis.  Instead of compo they put me on modified duties.

The barcode gun weighed ten pounds and holding it up in the air with the same uninjured hand all day, every day, meant now I had tendonitis in my wrist too.  So I was fired.  It was illegal but I didn’t fight it cause I had just graduated from my college and was ready to take on the world.

The world was more than up for the challenge.

I couldn’t find a job for months.  The best I could find was $10 an hour using my own vehicle going from Langley to Vancouver.  And the company I worked for as going to bill me out at $110 an hour.  No thanks.

So I went into sales, instead.  My second month I was top in the store.  One day a woman and her daughter came in to buy a TV.  I sold them the warranty.  At the till, she caught that I didn’t tell her all the fine print about the warranty.  I gave her a bigger discount.  I was never a good “salesman” after that.  I started telling people all the details.  I started serving them instead of trying to empty their wallet or bury them in debt.  My numbers began to suck.

Just then I found a job doing custom work for $32,000 a year starting salary.  Diploma, started on my career, upgrading at BCIT, nice car–not bad for a 21 year old.  I was ecstatic–for two weeks, when I found out…

My boss was an idiot.  A monotone slow-talker.  He began as a subcontractor and then was hired as a jack-of-all-trades type to takeover the integration side of the business full time.  Now he had a whole team of real sales people behind him and he was way over his head within weeks with no management or organizational skills.  I’m a perfectionist–he’s the opposite.  We butted heads.  He had huge gaps in his knowledge.  I had gaps in mine.  We couldn’t work it out because he refused to believe he had gaps and refused to help fill mine.

The department did horrible.  He hired his friend to work with me but it was clear from early on that he was above me.  As an ex-alarm installer, he knew more about cutting holes and running wires.  I knew more about audio, video, sales, programming–the difficult stuff–cause I went to school for it, so of course I did all the brainless work, while the new guy got training to do things I already knew how to do, but wasn’t allowed to do.

Then another guy was hired above me, but at least he was brilliant–a true professional from Bombardier.  It didn’t last long, though.  When our parent company, that claimed to be 10 times bigger than any competitor, was found to be cooking the books and the stock dropped from $75.00 to $0.01, of course it was he who was laid off–not the idiot or his friend.

I quit and went back to my last job but with a promotion.  Now 21, I was a sales/assistant Manager at an electronics retailers new Vancouver Store, with a staff of 11.  Now I could teach others, increase professionalism and I wouldn’t have to hose anybody.

Between the time I took the job, an started the job, the advertising budget was slashed in favor of other markets (Alberta).  Sales are ad driven.  It hurt.  The 11 page Boxing Day flyer shrunk to one page.  My boss argued it back up to four.

My boss quit.  The new guy brought in his own new guys.  I was demoted.  I quit.

I applied at a high end retailer that also did service and custom work.  They didn’t have a job for me in custom, but they liked me so much they gave me a great salary and put me in another department until a position in custom opened up just to keep me away from the competition.  I felt great.  Even though I had bad luck, I felt valued.

After six months or so, business tanked.  Ever since I entered the workforce the industry was in decline.  Guys in white vans were slashing rates and quality standards, the internet or a big box stores would always sell it cheaper.  Twenty five people were laid off.  Since I wasn’t even in the right department I was one of them.

wtf?  Why does this keep happening to me?…

I went to another high end retailer where I could sell and essentially start my own integration/custom department.  It was a shaky start, business for them was down as well.  But I made a few real big sales in a short period–including one to a large international construction company : ) over that premier company that offered me $10 an hour a few years ago : D  I was on CBC radio as an industry expert on a show about how product quality is getting shittier and shittier in the rush to make everything cheaper.  I made it.  There was a tough patch but I fucking made it.   For a few weeks…

The installer I had–a subcontractor–was awful.  Incompetent and insubordinate.  Beyond tardy.  I sold a system to a few local actors that were a couple.  The installer missed the install day twice.  Just never showed up.  He was also trying to take my customers from me.

I wasn’t allowed to fire him or use anyone else.  I found a better guy that went to the same college as me but he wasn’t hired.  My boss blamed me for the jobs not going well.  He thought that if the installer could put in a few speaker for him, then he should be able to handle an integrated $40,000 public use theatre system and three others like it simultaneously.  It was too much work for a competent team, let alone that useless jackass.  I was told to do the installs myself–for free.

I think I fucked up here.  I should have quit and started my own business with my buddy I tried to have hired.  I didn’t have the money though and I would need to shell out a bunch of cash for tools, a van, advertising, product, etc.  I didn’t have the money because I couldn’t get anything to work for long enough to save and had a fiance that didn’t like working but loved spending money.

I went to work at the company my Dad worked for instead, selling document solutions.  I was hired over people with 2 year marketing certificates.  He told me I would get the support there that I wasn’t getting at my current job…

I got engaged.  I was 24 now and we had lived together for three years.  We had been waiting and would continue to wait to get married… because of money.

On my forth day at my new job, my Manager was fired.  He wasn’t replaced.

I barely knew how to work a fax machine and now I had to learn everything about networks, industrial duplicators, and a bunch of shit I never learned enough about to tell you what it did–on my own.  Without any product training I sold almost nothing.  After almost three months I went to the President and asked for a manager to train me.   He fired me for “wasting (his) time”.

I’d had it.  Fucking had it.  Sick of working shit jobs for shit people, with only a few exceptions.

This just didn’t make sense to me.  What more did I need to do?  Why is this happening to me?  Why am I not allowed to succeed?  Why?  What purpose does this serve?  WTF?

I was depressed I guess, I don’t remember much.  I started smoking more pot.  I went on disability for depression.  I went on every medication in the world.  Some how the pills didn’t change my life or my outlook on it.

There is no purpose.  None at all.  Its just chaos.

There can’t be any purpose because if there was, then I would need to come up with a reason for the bullshit I went through–from birth.  Maybe this is hell?  Purgatory?  Maybe I am meant to do something other than sell stereos?

I started writing.  It was therapeutic.  It gave me something to do.

After a while, I began to feel better.  But I was still totally fucked.  I hadn’t worked in years now and that’s like putting a swastika on your resume.  People told me to lie.  I don’t want to live in a world where I have to lie.

My relationship ended.  We didn’t have enough money to get married.  Though she only made $10 an hour, she saw it as I didn’t have enough money.

I needed a miracle.  One came eventually.  I got my Teamster membership doing security.  I worked my ass off.  I carved out a niche.  I paid off debt.  I got a nice place.  I bought new clothes.  I had a nice vehicle.  This was just a few months ago.  I was finally able to date seriously.  I could show I had the basics and could provide well.  I had a future.  I could afford a wife.  I wasn’t a loser.  Still totally emotionally messed up–but not poor.  It took years to get there.  It lasted for two months…

Then I got a letter in the mail telling me I can’t work because of a bullshit discriminatory interpretation of a old ruling told me I didn’t get in the union soon enough, and now I have to wait and be one of the last hired.  Read: huge pay cut.  The goal I’ve been working on for a decade–a normal life–gone… again.

I am no different than before the letter, but once it was written I became a loser.   But how can that be if I didn’t change?  What did change?

People’s perception of me changes with my economic status.  I should have made $60,000 this year.  I’ll make $30,000 now and I don’t have the resume to expect more.  My net worth is zero.  Fun things cost money.  We all want to have a good time.

“When at first you don’t succeed, Try and try again!”

How many times?

“Get back on the horse!”

Do all horses breathe fire?

“YOU CAN DO IT!!”

Fuck off

“I just want to meet a nice (rich) guy”

… I know…

I should have gone to university, but I didn’t want the debt.  I guess I’ll go now.  I am at least five years from getting back to the point I can date seriously again.  Five years.  Its like a prison sentence.  But what did I do wrong?

It would be easier to struggle if I wasn’t struggling alone.  I feel like a marathon runner that has been running for 30 years, that’s getting laughed at by people in their cars for being too slow.

I’d like to see how well you’d run in my shoes.

I’m sick of being judged by people.  I’m sorry for not being born rich.  I’m sorry my parents couldn’t give me the tools to thrive in this world.  I’m sorry school costs so much.  I’m sorry there are no deer to hunt, Honey, but don’t take it out on me.  Stand by me.  Hunt with me.  Show me you are willing to sacrifice for our children.  If you’re just going to sit there on your knees with your mouth open…

Every retard in the country has an entire team of government support workers.  People in comas have teams of people looking after them and they haven’t had brain activity in years.  Who supports me?  I don’t need to be carried for life–I just need a start…or a teammate.

Almost everyone believes in love.  No one believes in loving.

“Suck it up princess!”

Yeah thanks.  So I get that this is all a game without rules.  Fuck everybody. I realize it’s about what you take.  I get it.  Lie, cheat, steal, murder, die with more toys.  You made your point. Me or them, right?  Me or you?  Is that what you want?

“Get busy livin’ or get busy dying” (The Shawshank Redemption)

Okay that’s a good one.  But there’s more…

We all write our own stories with our choices.  I want to live a love story.  That’s my ambition, that’s my goal.  So how do I get from here to there? as a poor guy in Surrey without much of a social network?

When I look back at all the dates I have gone on they fall into two categories: Polite conversations between friends that go nowhere, and drunken naked gong shows that go nowhere.

I don’t like to touch people.  Well at the start at least.  I need to get drunk–like really drunk.  I can’t do it otherwise.  Experience requires me to have poor judgement for a bit.  It’s the only way I can connect.  Dating is about forming a bond–even if it is temporary.  I avoid bonds.  I need to get slammed.  And I hate drinking… And people that drink…

I wasn’t really looking forward to dating a bunch of drunk bar bitches… but I should be more sympathetic since this society has fucked them over too.  I guess it’s my turn, right?  That’s who you want me to be?

Do I sound pathetic?  Well that’s strange cause everyone I know goes through times where they feel just as lost as I do.  Where everything sucks. I know you have doubts about life and G_d and him and her.  I know you cry sometimes.  Usually its just a phase and it isn’t all that bad, and I can remind you of that when you come to me for help.  You’re allowed an occasional freak out.  I’m not?  Who are you to call me weak?

But were supposed to fake it.  Pretend we’re happy and confident and loyal and honest… Why?  So that we can go on being part of the social order.  An order of corruption and chaos, pain and suffering, waste and death.  So we can get ours.

The last few months I have been fighting the idea.  I’ve been mourning.  I was in denial.  I thought love was real.  I was angry.  I thought I deserved love.  I’m finally accepting it.  Love is a warm fuzzy feeling–a temporary high.  I’m going to struggle financially for years to come.  I’ll have a shitty job.  I’ll drive a shitty car.   I’ll be judged for it.  I’ll be dismissed.  I’ll be exploited.  I’ll be alone.  Pardon me if I’m not enthusiastic about it.

But then there’s this video…

What made that dog risk its life?  It pulled the other dog inch by inch while under mortal threat because every inch was an inch closer to life.

Is this ignorance? Did the dog just fail to see the danger?

Is it insanity?  A cognitive malfunction caused by a stress or trauma?

Is this weakness?

Is this love?

The video also makes me sad.  You see, I’m the dog that got hit.  I’ve been on that freeway for 30 years and I love dogs because I know no human would risk anything to save me.  Is that dog pathetic?  Both of them?  Would you rather be in a relationship with the people who sit and watch as the poor dog gets hit over and over again?  Why?

A handful have come to the side of the road and asked me what I could do for them if they saved me.  Everyone wishes me well.  They tell me they would help me but they “have to” go on an exotic vacation.  Some say they’ll help me tomorrow…  Some say they’ll help me once I’m at the curb.  When I get to the curb the push me back out into traffic.

The good thing about sitting here in the middle of the freeway is that I’m finally safe from the people on the curb that told me to cross the freeway.

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2 responses to “Is this Love?

  1. David Blair

    Dan,

    What an incredible thing to share. You undoubtedly have a gift for communicating, insight and learning. You are an incredible writer and that is a gift you should explore.

    I don’t give advise usually because I think you are way too smart to need it, and people make their own best choices but …

    I know you and know you have tremendous potential, intellect and gifts. Going back to school might be good and there are other options. Don’t get discouraged the world is full of disappoints and eventual happiness. You never know what wonderful things are right around the corner/hill. And sometimes you will be happy to not get what you wanted.

    Another idea – With your security and technology background you could get university paid for in the Canadian Forces.

    Check out this book http://www.hardluckgoodluck.com/ the author has gone through everything imaginable and said, if I can do it I’ll tell others how to do it – she wrote book and it’s pretty good. She works with me as a consultant and I’m sure she would even meet with you. Hell, I can’t get to stop talking about her ideas – come out for a coffee or beer.

    Thanks for the last video – that inspired me and left me optimistic about the living spirit. I know you didn’t feel the same way, but helping others is a good thing – but you can only help people so much, maybe be a friend , add some new perspectives, but everyone owns their own life. The value of that life is in how much we try to be good to others. And a good life is giving love, not feeling it or being ‘in it’, but embodying it – and some people do. I met them once.

    Rock on youngster !

    Just my 2 cents.

    Take care Dan,

    Dave

  2. Dan,

    I think about you often and I wish there was something I could do to help turn your luck around.

    You truly have a gift with words and language. I am so sorry that you are down on your luck and that things don’t seem to be going your way. I think going back to school is an excellent idea. I know when I went to university I met some wonderful people and who knows maybe you’ll meet that special person & fall in love! You just never know.

    Take care & hope to see you soon!

    Sending big cyber hugs your way:)

    Julie

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