Sunday, February 12, 2017

White Middle Class Problems Versus Real Problems

I bitch here. I bitch a lot. 20 minute wait for service in a restaurant, I'll gripe about it here. People in our small Southern town being confused by traffic circles? Yes, already complained copiously about it.

This week was filled with me complaining in real life. Super cranky, I suspect it was more about my feeling like someone was hammering railroad spikes through my ears into my brain because of the several infections I'm dealing with. But some of it was just over the top. Jim even told me I was turning super negative.

Been a lot of irksome stuff going on. After my last post we started talking to various contractors, getting estimates on the new carpeting, painting and a few upgrades I want to do on the house. We decided that we should go ahead and put a new roof on because ours is starting to miss a few shingles and is 27 years old on a roof only rated for 25 years.

Here's what I've learned this week getting estimates. If the contractor comes out with props, samples fancy brochures and does a lengthy show and tell his estimate is going to be twice as much as everyone else. The guys that come out and quietly measure and give you an estimate tend to be cheaper and do the exact same job.

At the same time I'm feeling like our President after watching a SNL parody of him I was also dealing with something else. Jim had a high school friend visiting Washington D.C. on Saturday night who was insisting I go with Jim to dinner with him and his girlfriend. I've talked here about this 'friend' before. He's the one that sent me very inappropriate private messages on Facebook and was stringing along a lady he met online and became engaged to while saying awful things in front of her at Jim's high school reunion. He's rather creepy. Here's what I said here three years ago about this guy

 I had a good time, with one exception. Jim has an old friend named T-Bone. T-Bone is sort of one of those guys that was extremely 'uncool' in high school and the years haven't improved him much. I've always felt sort of sorry for T-Bone, because he wasn't Mr. Personality or much to look at, so many of the women he attracted seemed to be more interested in his wallet than anything else. The last reunion I attended he brought this lady from his work (he works at the Sara Lee pie factory). His date, Delores, wasted no time telling us how she'd left her no count husband for T-Bone, all the while hammering down the booze and smoking. Between the things she said, did, wore and the way she looked I didn't want anything to do with her.

Delores still lives with him, but in his basement. T-Bone didn't bring her to the reunion, he brought his new fiancee, who is my age and on disability for arthritis. Her name is Ethel. Shortly after introducing us to Ethel T-Bone invited us to his wedding in two weeks up in Altoona, Pa. He told us he really didn't want to get married for a third time but Ethel was insisting on it, so he decided she was okay enough for now, at least until something better came along.

 He said this IN FRONT OF ETHEL!?!?!... and then went on to say lots of other ugly things in front of Ethel. Ethel spent the evening downing beers like prohibition was looming and trying not to cry. By the end of the evening she was falling down drunk. Sadly enough, so were several others from the Class of 1969,

Both Jim and I were shocked by T-Bones words and behavior and have agreed we're not going to the wedding because neither of us wants to give any appearance of approval. That's without taking into account the couple met online in late April, met face to face Memorial Day weekend and immediately moved in together and got engaged. It just seems like they're rushing it a bit. I'm afraid for Ethel because it's pretty obvious she's decided to ignore every red flag and rush in, while T-Bone is saying things that indicate this union is doomed from the start. Someone is going to get hurt.

It's made me realize that T-Bone isn't the hapless victim I always thought he was. He uses his money (and he has quite a bit of inherited money) to manipulate and control the ladies in his life. Many guys with money use it to control their partners, that's a lesson I learned with the guy I dated before Jim. He was a millionaire owner of a oil field supply company, and he saw nothing wrong with attempting to control every aspect of my life. I dumped him quickly, to my mother's horror, because I wasn't prepared to be criticized by and have to kowcow to any man.
 Yeah, that guy. Since the last time I wrote about him he has become very obnoxious in insisting we come stay with him, or hang out with him, not taking no for an answer. He was also involved in what happened with Jim's part time job ending. Instrumental. Add in that he's a YUGE Trump fan and I didn't know if I could keep my mouth shut if I did go.

See why I didn't want to go hang out with him? Jim took it badly, and I could see he also wasn't thrilled about spending the evening with a guy named after a steak. I ended up going out of being able to see that Jim needed my support more than I needed to avoid a creep. I went.

I'm happy to say that I had horribly misjudged his companion Delores, who I'd met only once. She'd been monologuing out about her abusive husband and piles of tmi info to me the one time we met and I've been horribly triggered by her behavior. I think from spending a few hours with her that the problem was that she was really going through some stuff at the time I met her, and she couldnt help it. Too many times when we women leave toxic relationships we're seeking to understand what happened and sometimes are a bit bizarre in the ways it comes out. I liked her and I'm pretty ashamed that I judged her so harshly on a few hours acquaintance in what surely was a terrible time in her life.

Steak guy was typical, but non-creepy for a change. We did verbally spar a bit over Trump. But it was mostly okay, not the hellish dinner I feared. Yes, he's still controlling and insisting on having things his way all the time.

But during that evening I realized something strange. D.C. feels different. There's a very different vibe about the place. I haven't been back into the city since the new president took office and it seems to have changed. The smallest numbers of crowds that I've ever seen there, even the restaurant was a ghost town.

After dinner we took Mr. Steak and Delores over to Union Station for dessert and I experienced how different things are feeling in a new ways. There are always panhandlers and homeless folks in D.C. You know how I feel about those kinds of folks - I love them. Always have since I started volunteering at the soup kitchen and homeless shelters here about twelve years ago. I always keep smaller bills in my wallet and gift cards to give out when I'm in the city. I look for them and they break my heart. I don't understand why we cannot do more for them, why they aren't a priority with our government and social programs. My years working with the poor have shown me that it can happen to anyone, a few bad breaks and unexpected bills and that could easily be you, with your decent, kind, normal self, begging for money. It's everyone, or the potential to be everyone.

Usually they come up to you and ask for money. This time was different indeed. There were a few homeless asking for money in Union Station, but instead of simply asking they slid around the mall areas like whispering ghosts, not actively seeking money, but behaving like what they were doing was secretive and shameful. It was pretty heart-breaking to see the fear, which makes me think that with the new administration they are likely experiencing an increased pushback by those in power now. Furtive glances, whispered requests for money. Hunger in the middle of a string of food places.

One man approached me as soon as we entered. There was just something about his voice that stopped me and I had to talk with him, give him what I could. He got to my heart. I stood there holding his hand, talking to him while everyone else in our group kept walking to the ice cream place. He told me he hadn't eaten in a day and a half. How can that happen in one of the richest nations in the world and in a city filled with the rich and powerful.

One thing is coming out of my encounter with this man with kind eyes and the others whispering desperately. I can see part of my resistance to the new power structure in Washington is going to have to be going back to volunteering at the shelters and places that feed the homeless. I cannot stay home and pretend everything is alright and my stupid petty problems of not liking the guy named for steak or trying to decide between a granite counter top and one of recycled glass and seashells is important. It's not. People are.

I also see I'm going to have to work on not judging people. Even people that annoy my puny sheltered sensitive self.

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