I am writing this from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
I had been working that job at Michael’s. I like Michael’s. I liked my coworkers. But I’ve got to be honest: retail is a physical job. I had been told 15 to 20 hours a week and I was working more like 30 and my back was killing me. There is a spot on my right shoulder that just burns. I expected sore feet, but sore back was surprising.
I spent Thanksgiving with the family. I put my foot in it, of co urse. My cousin K came on his own. He said the kids would be joining him shortly, which they did. When he was leaving, I told him to say hi to D, his wife, for me. “Oh, I guess you haven’t heard,” he said, “We’re not together any more.” Boy did I feel like an idiot. My cousin J also did not show up with his partner, so now I wonder if they’re still together any more.
Still it was a good day. I got to see my daughter, and we had a real good heart to heart about why we have so much stress over the holidays. I feel like we both understand each other better, even if we don’t agree.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, at 10:45 at night, my work phone went off. Usually it’s just a notification that some news service has a new story so I don’t look, but this time I did. It was an email, telling me I had an online message from the government. I pulled it up. It was a deployment request. Well halleloo! I had just said that I was good with the Michael’s job but I would prefer something else, and there it was! From my mouth to God’s ear, as they say.
So of course I accepted the deployment, even though South Dakota in the window is no cakewalk. I don’t even own a real winter coat since I’ve been in Dallas for 25 years now. Right now I’m good in layers but soon I’ll have to invest in something more solid.
I had to call Michael’s and tell them I quit. I felt bad. They were good to me. The store manager said she was just glad I called and told her. I hate that. It means they have a high turnover of people who just don’t show up, which is bad business manners. But it also felt like I let them down. I didn’t like that feeling. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I knew I was going to be deployed. I figured I wouldn’t be deployed until at least spring, and that a seasonal job would be done by then.
And yet, true to form, the government called me late at night on a Sunday and told me to report to work in another state on Tuesday. That meant I had Monday to pack and Tuesday to travel. I thought about working Monday, but I just couldn’t figure out how to make that work. I had to quit with no notice to have time to pack. At least I had already done laundry, at a friend’s house, where I was house sitting. And at least she was coming home the next day so her house wouldn’t be empty more than 30 hours.
Monday night I got a call from daughter. She asked how I was getting to the airport. I said, my roommates were taking me. Daughter said she was already on the way to the airport, so why didn’t she take me and then she could borrow my car? No exaggeration, my car Phyllis is more than 20 years old. I drive a 1998 Chevy Lumina. She has just about 150K miles on her, so she’s low mileage for the years. But she is starting to be a little grumpy. She has a coolant leak and she needs a tune up, and there are probably some other things too. I don’t feel good loaning her to anybody. Plus, if she broke down, daughter doesn’t have the money to get her towed. I would repay daughter, but she’d need the money up front to get the initial tow done. Car would end up left on the side of the road and impounded, which I can’t afford.
Or what if she got into an accident? The car’s only worth $400 or so. All it would take is a good rear end collision, and even though it would be the other guy’s fault, Phyllis would be totaled. I can’t afford to replace her.
So with all that, I had to tell my daughter no and the call ended badly. She’s over it now, but I felt horrid for a couple of days, thinking the last thing she said before getting off the phone was “that’s fucked up”. I try to end the call by saying I love her so if anything happens, that’s the last thing I said to her; but she was having none of it that day. I am not hypocrite. I can say no and still love you. But it didn’t feel like that to her.
I have so much more to tell, but I am getting sleepy and I have some errands to run tomorrow so I think I’ll go to bed. Good night.