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I saw a slush ball resembling the bust of Cicero, and I am tired.

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It looked like this guy. It even had the epic suspicious/seriously (!?!?!) face.

This is going to be a ramblin’ shamblin’ festival of fuck my lifery. So, you know. You’ve been warned.

I am not so far from thirty, which is fine. I’m cool with that. But I have the odd combination of a very young looking face, and an expression of contempt and loathing that can fell a PUA without a word. This is difficult for people to process.

“Why that uppity young snot!” They seem to think, “I’ll take her down a peg or three!”

I should mention that this has been a lifelong situation for me, and I fully grasp that I am the cilantro of people– people that like me, really like me, and we have a rollicking good time and everything is fantastic.  And to other people I apparently taste like soap. The people who like me outnumber the people who don’t, and their kindness more than makes up for the rest.

But. The people who don’t like me, tend to be people in positions of authority. And they tend to try to take me down as many notches/pegs as they possibly can, even though it never works.

I’m not kidding. It’s not that I don’t politely do whatever I’m asked to do (within reason), I do. It’s not that I’m not polite and courteous, I am.

I do my job, I do good work, I show up on time, and that’s it. That’s all. I am not deferential. I will politely listen and do things how you want them done, but I will not be trained in how-I-ought-to-behave. I started out low, bosses, and you will never be able to push me back down.

I understand the dues paying culture of working in America. I’ve been officially working and paying in to SSI every year since I was twelve, which is well over half of my life.

Which is the crux of my complaint. Dues, I have paid them. I’ve worked cleaning toilets, I’ve painted houses and rolled around in batshit and 100 year old dust in a museum attic laying down caulk.   I’ve cleaned up more metric tons of animal shit and piss than I care to think about. I’ve been wrist deep in animal blood and puke and name-your-fluid. I’ve assisted in the euthanasia of unwanted animals, even when it broke my heart. I’ve worked serving food, I’ve worked grooming dogs, and I spent five years as collection for an evil company that shall not be named.

Five years in collections is, by the way, a lifetime. Most people burn out before the twelve month mark because it’s a hideous soul crushing job that robs you of all compassion for yourself and everyone else. I hated every single minute of it, and I stayed only because I had no other choice and hoped that I could at least be the kinder gentler more helpful bill collector. I called people with dying spouses, dying children, who had lost their homes, who were dying themselves. I heard adults beating children, and each other, while I could sit there and do absolutely nothing.

I called a woman who had found out only a few minutes before that her daughter had been murdered (and yes, trust me, it was real. It was viscerally present in her voice) and who hadn’t even had the chance to call her family, and was so polite and so lost and in so much more pain than most people can imagine. I drove home crying 4 nights out of 5. But I stuck it out, because it was what was rational for me at the time. I quit that job only when my health began to deteriorate and a supervisor began to harass me.

I have a steel backbone, for various reasons, not the least of which is growing up in a family of Jehova’s Witnesses as a public dissenter. Like my list of jobs above, I have a laundry list of insults that were lobbed at me as a child: Whore (regular), Whore of Babylon (where are my purple vestements and my kir royale in a golden chalice? And the many headed leopard thing I should be riding?), slut, witch (this is hard to explain to secular people, but yes, they really, genuinely 100% believed that I was consorting with demons), and on, and on. And on. I was taken out of school in 2nd grade and homeschooled from there until college, which wasn’t so bad in some ways since my parents were conflicted enough about their religion to have an awesome library and let me read pretty much whatever I wanted via the process of not having their shit together and not paying attention to what was going on. But it meant that I was isolated from anyone who was not a Jehovah’s Witness, until I was old enough to start reaching out on my own. I learned to be alone, and be ok with it. I learned to love nature as refuge and a friend. I had great experiences making friends online, before and after I left home, and I am still friends with many of those people IRL, a decade on.

Anyone who has had a childhood in a dysfunctional, abusive family, can pretty much fill in the rest of the hunger, neglect, beatings, poorness bingo card. I didn’t have it worse than anyone in the world ever, but I didn’t have it great. Which is no excuse to be an asshole, and I’m not. In fact, all of these experiences have made me take the position that if I cannot treat someone well, it’s better for me to leave them alone completely. My personal acquaintance with pain has made me believe that compassion and empathy and altruism are the best things about being a social creature, and I try to practice them regularly.

However. Unless my job description specifically and openly demands ego stroking, I won’t. And no amount of pushing me around will get that out of me.

Trust me, bosses, I always feel like saying, you will not succeed where an entire doomsday cult, my family, and several exes failed.

But here we are again, right now, and I am tired. I am in pain, I have no energy, I have decided to go ahead with a hysterectomy in hopes of ending the pain and feeling better, but that won’t happen until after I finish my language classes and get my B.A. (I already have my B.S., but immigration being what it is in the US, I decided that coming back to finish my last year of language would be a good way to kill time until Mr. Lee Hales was able to get here) in May. And so, right now. I am just tired.

I am tired of friendliness being a demand on my person with no quid pro quo. I am tired of being taken to task, not for failing to do my job, or doing it poorly, but for failing to defer, failing to get in line, sit down, shut up, and take it.

I realize that the common thread here is my failure to conform to expectations of age and femininity. Women are supposed to be warm and open, giving and deferential to authority. Young women are supposed to be inexperienced. The sticky uppy nail gets pounded down and so forth.

I don’t have a point here. I realize  that I’m lucky to be working at all, even if only for 10 hours a week. I know how privileged I am to be able to have the option of coming back for a B.A., to be educated at all. I have shit loads of privilege. I am also poor, and hurting and just fucking tired.

Post me some funny comments, ok? Put up silly gifs and pictures of adorbs jumping spiders. Make interesting comments. Something. Make my day less rage inducing. I’m about ready to move to the moon.

I want a cat sized jumping spider with which to cuddle. And scare assholes. But mostly cuddle.


About Pepper

Pepper Lee Hales is a twenty something, married, vicious feminist liberal. She likes dogs, cats, spiders, epistemics and cake.

6 responses »

  1. Okay, funny story and then I’ll find a funny picture.

    My 2 year old niece grabbed half and onion ring (that’s all she’ll eat out of a Subway sandwich, honestly, I can’t blame her), turns to me and says, “It’s a rainbow- fwish!” and proceeded to make the onion rainbow fly through the sky.

    As rainbows do.

    With sound effects.

    Also, the ultimate answer to Christianity.

  2. Ha ha ha! Your niece sounds hilarious. Is it just me or does subway always have the raunchiest purple onions? It’s like they get them from the sock drawer of onion farms.

    And that picture is pitch perfect. Oh for an army of TP dwelling spiders.

    I keep trying to comment on your blog, PF, but it keeps giving me errors. Sad face.

  3. Okay, this was… I don’t know, a week and half ago, I guess. One of my co-workers is Catholics, it’s Lent, so on Friday I suggest that we have sushi for lunch. He calls his wife, and she says: {demon voice} “You would eat sushi without ME!?” {/demon voice} Being a loving husband, and sensitive to the subtle messages underlying his wife’s words, he concludes that perhaps he should wait until dinner, and take her out for sushi then.

    But we go to the restaurant anyway, and he orders some sort of shrimp dish – because, y’know, even Catholics have to eat lunch.

    Anyway, at the table beside us is a family. The child nearest me is an eight- or nine-year-old boy, and perforce wiggly. He is seated across from his sister, who’d I put somewhere around fourteen years of age, and her friend (who is the same age, but very obviously not related). Grandmother is sitting on the same side of the table as the two girls, facing the mother and father. This, by the way, places grandmother in the opposite corner from the boy, which is not a good strategy since she is the only one who seems more than slightly interested in making sure he behaves.

    At one point, the boy slides down under the table. (He is wiggly, remember, and probably bored.) He reaches up with his fingers and grabs the edge of the table and pulls down… only he doesn’t just get the table, he also catches the edge of a plate. The plate, of course, tips up and dumps its contents onto him.

    Grandmother immediately calls for him to get back up into his seat, while his father saves the plate and sets it back in its place. The boy rises back up, surfacing from below the table like a particularly sinister fish. Except… well, the plate contained a sort of extra-thick onion ring… which fell off the table… and onto the top of his head. So when his head reappears, he is wearing this onion ring, and it looks like the tempura version of one of those little hats that the Shriners wear for parades.

    Grandmother snaps, “Take that off your head. That is not appropriate!

    In a spontaneous showing of parental solidarity, half the restaurant immediately looks away and attempts not to choke on our laughter. Or snarf our drinks.

  4. Being a hardcore cynic I feel where you’re coming from. I wish my pet jumping spider would cuddle with anyone other than me otherwise I’d let you borrow him.

    When he’s not around though (he feeds on republicans) I read Perry Bible Fellowship.

    Personal Favorites

    And lastly my view on politics…

  5. sorry. I have to keep this special code on my comments to keep David mabus from spamming my blog with book size death threats, and I think it fucks with blogger sometimes.

    if you ever need the code, let me know, btw.

  6. Thanks you guys. I LOL’d.

    @MM HA! Oh onion rings, you provide the mirth today.

    @PF– I figured it was a security thing. No problem. I may well need that someday.

    @68W Thanks for the links! Jumping spiders are the best.


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