Monthly Archives: November 2013

“Stand in the Place Where You Live”

R.E.M. said it…I should have listened.

A while back I wrote this…basically an epitaph to my retail job.

I had started a new job in the recovery field. It was a one of the most prestigious rehabs in the country.

I’m back in retail…

WHAT???

Here’s the deal…it’s a two-fold deal actually: in order to maintain my position at the rehab, it would have cost me nearly $1000/month out of my own pocket to provide a modified/basic health insurance plan for myself and my two kids. Incidentally all 3 of us are in or will be in college in 2014. This is versus $300/month to provide FULL health care benefits and FULL Dental…it was a no brainer. When I saw the rate sheet, I put in my two weeks notice the next day.

But it wasn’t entirely about the benefits…in fact I’ve decided to drop my Addiction Studies major at school and concentrate exclusively on obtaining my BA in English. The rehab field isn’t for me, for reasons too numerous to enumerate here. Suffice it to say that when money enters the picture, the whole ball game changes. I love recovery. I love the purity of one alcoholic helping another. But I detest what money does to that. I’m not calling out the whole industry…there are some great facilities out there I’m sure…it’s just not for me. I didn’t have the core passion for that business I saw within some of my colleagues…and I wish them the best.

This is the second time I’ve left the retail job to pursue another career path, only to be stymied by the exorbitant cost of health insurance.

Look, I’m not the brightest bulb in the world, but this time I got it. I’ve made a minimum six-year commitment to the retail job to I can provide quality health care for myself and kids while we pursue our academic goals.

Retail is a bitch…it’s fraught with petty commission fights, angry and entitled customers, and long days on one’s feet. It’s also the home of tremendous benefits, both retirement  and health care.

From the day I got that job, I was looking for an out. This time, I’m making a commitment to stay for a while and it’s made all the difference in the world in my attitude. Perspective…in essence, putting my big boy pants on, hunkering down, and being an adult.

So I’m back in the trenches, not necessarily in a job I love, but in an occupation that provides killer benefits and with some people who have become the fabric of my life…people I truly love and care about.

 

 


He Was “That Guy”…

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(photo courtesy MaxPreps.com)

I distinctly remember my son’s first high school football game. I was floored at the violence. The sheer intensity of the hitting, the helmet-to-helmet and pad-to-pad contact that could be heard in the stands. He was a freshman then. He had never played football and decided to try out for the team. The freshman played on Thursdays and he didn’t play much that game…just kick returns. I went with him on Friday night to the Varsity game and was completely convinced of two things: 1)These kids were huge and if he played as a senior, he’d get killed, and 2) I didn’t need to worry because there was no way in hell he was good enough, fast enough, or had enough football knowledge/experience to even make the Varsity team. Again, this kid had never played football and he was competing with kids who had been playing organized tackle football for years. He might make the Varsity team, but he would never see a minute of playing time.

I was wrong.

My son came off the field tonight…his last Varsity football game. He was the starting Free Safety. He was a “player to watch” in our local player a couple of weeks ago. He had an interception and a fumble recovery this year. He had a TON of tackles. He not only made the team but he contributed to the team in a big way…all against and with players that had played much longer than he.

At the start of summer practices this year, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that he might not start in his senior year. He wasn’t the best player at that position and there were guys with much more experience. I told him to just be “that guy” that works his ass off all summer while everyone else is taking it easy.

He did…he was “that guy” that made the coaches take notice of his commitment.

The week before the first game, the defensive coordinator took him aside and told him he wouldn’t be a starter this year. But he also told him they had taken notice of how hard he had and was working. My son was devastated. I could hear it in his voice.

I explained to him that I was beyond proud of him. In my eyes, he’d already won. He’s put in the work and although it wasn’t the outcome we wanted, his coaches noticed…and he had gained their respect. I then told him something else…guys like “that guy” make their own breaks and if he continued to work hard, he might get another shot…

He did…he ended up playing nearly 75% of the defensive series this year…again becoming a big contributor and even a starter towards the end of the season.

My son came off the field tonight with tears in his eyes…and began to sob softly.

His season was over. He had accomplished something bigger than both of us and as I held him, I told him how immensely proud of him I was…not for making the team…not for starting…but for the effort he put in. The outcome didn’t matter. The effort did.

Football was a game changer for my son these last four years. It developed in him a confidence, work ethic, and brotherhood that he will take with him forever.

I am eternally grateful to God that he made it through these four years without any injuries and am forever in debt to the parents of his best friend for being my companions at every game this year.

Thanks guys…what an amazing 4 years…


Bring on the Wenches…

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Okay, okay…it get that the term “wenches” is misogynistic by definition, but bear with me here…

This Miami Dolphin fiasco reminds me of another era I lived through.  Remember when cops and fire”men” were just that? Men.

The sophomoric, locker-room banter that has characterized the hazing incidents involving Pro Football players Johnathan Martin and Richie Incognito are emblematic of a foregone era…one in which there were more workplaces exclusive to men. Fire Departments were one of them.

As a lad beginning my career in the fire department, hazing, horseplay, locker-room banter, and outright mental abuse was all part and parcel of the initiation process. I engaged in my share of dishing it out as well. Did I enjoy it? At times. Was it healthy and conducive to a professional workplace? Absolutely not. Do I regret my participation in it? In hindsight, yes…

What we created and fostered in those days was an environment of exclusivity…an old boys club if you will. Weakness and introspection were strictly frowned upon and frequently the target of harassment. In today’s workplace, that type of behavior would have you out on your ass before you could say, well…ass.   Professional male sports such as football, has remained exempt to a degree from these common-sense employment standards. Why? Because there are no women.

That’s right…the advent of women in public service immediately spelled the end of this type of childish and destructive behavior. Oh, I admit, I fought it to some extent, as we all did, but in the end, I came to realize it was simply the right thing to do. The introduction of women into the fire department all but ended the days of hazing and boorish behavior. Oh, I’m sure it still goes on to some extent, but nowhere near the degree that it did back in the day.

What will it take to end this cruelty in professional sports?

I applaud Mr. Martin for his courageous stand in the face of overwhelming hatred from his own “team”. His teammates are jumping on the Incognito bandwagon and pathetically attempting to hang on to the last bastion of male neanderthalism.

Enough. It’s done. Time to put on your big boy pants gentleman and start acting like, well, gentleman.

 

 

 


The Seduction of Denial…

 

 

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admits he “once” smoked crack today.

Hmmm.

Rob, I think we need a sit-down:

I “once” smoked crack. On multiple occasions.

I mention this by way of establishing some sort of credentials on the matter. As a former crack smoker, let me brief you on a few things:

  • You don’t smoke crack “once”. If you did, you were immediately killed by the dealer, prostitute, or other ne’er-do-well that hooked you up.
  • Yes, lots of drinking can lead to experimentation with crack cocaine.
  • Generally, if lots of drinking has lead you down this road…you might just have a problem with that drinking thing.
  • If you can’t recall when it was you smoked crack “once”…it wasn’t.
  • Denial is the most dangerous and seductive drug…not crack…not alcohol.

Here’s the deal Rob…may I call you Rob? I just feel such a kinship to you that it seems appropriate.

I too drank a lot…as you said, got “hammered” on many occasions. At some point, drinking just wasn’t doing the job for me, so I turned to my buddy…oh let’s call him “Freddy” in my local dive bar, who always had $20 packets of coke that would allow me to continue drinking without getting tired or sick.

And look Rob, once you hit that point, as I know you have, the step up to crack for you wasn’t that hard was it? I mean after all, it’s just the same as a little blow…just smoked, but OMG what a rush…am I right?

But here’s the deal buddy, if you find yourself in a position of responsibility, as you apparently are in this “Mayor of a major metropolitan city” gig, it’s probably not a good idea to continue to lie to your constituents about your drinking and drug use. Yeah, I get that it doesn’t poll well to admit you’ve sucked the glass pipe, but at the end of the day when your dealer turns you out to the media, and has video evidence to back it…you might want to consider a heart-to-heart with yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if running the city is more important than saving your own life.

Yep…that’s what I said…Rob; if you are in this state of catastrophic denial, you are either still smoking rock or will certainly continue to do so.

I can’t diagnose you as an alcoholic or drug addict, but I would strongly urge you to consider it a possibility. You see, I had to lose it all before I sought the help and recovery I so desperately needed.

Rob, you will continue to be the butt of jokes and a political laughing-stock until you take care of this little “issue”. But I promise you that there is life, and a pretty good one, on the other side if you seek help.

If you don’t, I can promise you all the misery you can handle…denial is a seductive and cunning bitch, and she will take you places you can only imagine in your worst nightmares.

 

 


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