7 Months since they terminated my job and kicked me out with most of the other workers - including the Boss.
A long road. January, February, and the first week of March I went in and worked feeling I was slowly helping an old friend die. I warned the owner and my boss that I would be depressed and crying at times but I would help them close it down. Prior to that, the work had MEANING. In the last months and days I went in trying to memorize every damn thing I saw, heard and smelled. Ok this is the last time I may see this and smell that. Look at those parts in the rack. Remember that. The cracks in the cement they never repaired on the loading dock. Remember the smell of the fresh milled yellow pine and hemlock. Ahhhhh they are running hickory through THAT machine! SNIFF SNIFF! Remember sound of ALL of those machines! How glorious the memories! Take them and bury them in a vault inside and seal them with tears!
I made a joke of my sobbing at times. It got to be less and less as I and the others went through phases of grief. Boss was better at hiding it than I but he talked about not being able to function because we were all in disbelief at working there for so many DECADES! I had been promised I could take some wood with me but the owner reneged on that deal. Fuck him. Not worth the anger. I was cutting up work stations, materials racks and moving machines to be auctioned off. I was using a 3-pound hammer, reciprocating saw, and crowbar to tear things apart. Sometimes I would hit myself or get hit by something and just dully stare at my flesh as it turned black and blue or bled. I felt some triumph that I did not cut myself with that fucking saw. How ironic to add one last big injury. I cleaned out a room that had been used for coating wood parts. DECADES of toxic shit had seeped into that concrete. The only way it be cleaned would be to dig a big hole there. The owner of the company had illusions he would sell the building. Maybeit will be. I hope they tear that 120-year-old bitch down. So much of my blood, dead skin, dried spit, and sweat is in it I feel I am part of that place. At times I feel I hear voices inside it. I feel the footfalls of strangers echoing inside me. I loved and hated that place. I remember that last day just trying to put in my last day and not say fuck it and walk out early. It didn’t matter. It was all about PRIDE. In the last few minutes, I was a mess. Slow tears welling up and I did not give a fuck. I was a weeping Zombie. We used to stand by the time clock and wait 5 minutes then punch out. It was always bizarre, stupid, and absurd to me. The men always felt like filling that 5 minutes with some kind of stupid shit talk. In the last 10 or so years I would be the first out, hanging on that clock. I remember now there was a photo on the wall of a guy that had killed himself. Good man but his stupid cunt wife cheated on him and he shot the wrong person! Book keeper asked that last day a stupid question: “Anyone want to take him with them on their way out?” I shut up so her husband wouldn’t have a reason to come after me. I shut up because some people are just too fucking stupid to reply to. RIP my coworker. If I ever see your widow again I will try like hell not end up in state pen. The owner took my punch card and told me to just get out. He would sign me out. Like, who gives a fuck? It was all over.
My boss gave me some high grade cannabis a few weeks before the closing. I would take a few hits of it and be blown away. Had not smoked cannabis since I was a teen and young man. When the pot was ditch weed. LOW THC stuff. Smoke a joint and get a bit high. Todays stuff? Fuuuck me! I smoked a little at a time for a few weeks. Despite being on blood thinners I loaded up on beer and got blasted senseless. It’s funny how I had so much experience with self-destruction in my past it came back like an old friend. A toxic old friend. At the same time there was a compartmentalized SANE part of me. A part that was like a neighbor in the next apartment of my mind. Who was the landlord? The sane one. The sane one said ok get fucked up and deaden the pain. I wavered on wanting to live and die. The sane dude had a plan in place. A little money saved and a long-term flexible budget. I swore I would not get a fucking Vaccine due to fear of crowds. I got an invitation to get a shot and I took it. A family member helped. It was cool. It created confidence. 2 weeks later the other shot. Life affirmation
I decided not to die. I have 2 birds that need me alive. I quit drinking and the cannabis disappeared. I lost 25 pounds. Got a little counseling on the phone. Got a physical done. Colonoscopy. Eyes checked. New glasses. In May I applied for Social Security and, not trusting bureaucracy, sweated out being ok’d for that. Finally had to call them to make sure all was ok and now … maybe next week my first payment. It was part of my plan. It fell into place but with a few grinding of gears.
In the past months I have gone through much depression and feeling LOST. A life without meaning. I stumble in conversation and thought with what were 2 painful words: “I Was”. I WAS a person with a unique job that nobody in the USA does anymore. I recently found pride in that “I was”. It shows I lived and had a special unique life and job. Despite doing much stupid shit I SURVIVED! I cleaned up my life a few times and now I have stayed clean and highly LIFE AFFIRMATIVE.
I have an outer shell of bristles, snarls and grumbles and the inner is that same old ME of 66 years. I once blew off life by living as high as I want with so relative little meaning and now I find more meaning and even JOY in HAVING AND LIVING ON LESS.
I see today that I am coming out of the darkness of what was mostly nightmares of my past work place every night. I changed my bedroom arrangement and that helped. I embrace the dreams and see them only AS dreams. For a while I avoided contact with most former coworker except for my former boss. Now I just don’t give a fuck. We only had that place in common. I know I was full of repressed anger but I have let it slowly ease out like air from a balloon.
My identity WAS “A factory worker”. And now I add “former” to that with pride. Not ego or arrogance. A feeling good about those years I took for granted never imagining I would be in THIS place.
Every day it seems I run numbers on survival. Paying the bills. Chiding myself on expenses but confident I will level out and do ok. I do not care about Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Years. I care about SURVIVAL. Not getting sick and not needing to go to an ER. It puts life in perspective. From being at times that wild self-destructive party on dude of long ago to… hey try to get through THIS month and then the next. Find little things that I enjoy doing. Keep the mind and body alive.
It’s been a long journey and now I think I will be ok. Walked for 40 yesterday and 45 today. Keep going. Live clean. Keep the dirty mind ;-)
I need to find some word to replace the descriptive of “retired”. It feels almost guilty. It is not the great thing people think it is. We all need ways to feel USEFUL. I will look for that in life. I will find joy in simpler things than before. I have often felt gratitude. I feel rich with it now. I got THIS far. Surprise!
Instead of letting age tear me down I need to find ways to build and maintain what I have.
7 months…Yeah I think I am getting over the worst. It’s like getting over a death and the mourning that goes with it and hangs on. It’s like recovering from a divorce and marriage. Having mourned the dead and gone through a divorce, this past 7 months has been like a mix of both. But I realize today I am doing ok. I am going to be ok. If the shit hits the fan? It’s ok I am grateful for having lived this life I once bemoaned so much.