I’ve worked hard to get my degree. Not as hard as others, mind you. Whenever I begin to think that my working many hours at a job, going out of town on training exercises, and having to still do a paper for a class in the process is a lot and a little self misery starts to pop up… I’ll meet someone who goes to school, has a job, and has a better GPA than me (though that is not saying much). It brings me back to reality and to stop moping around, get back to it.

Another one of my traits is optimism. This works well for me when things are bad, but I’ve found that when things are going well I will not try to make them the best. I am thoroughly and exceptionally average.

I left Gustav’s. I hated that place. Of all the places that I’ve ever worked, this place ranks as the worst. There is not a single fiber of my being that is lead to believe that there is any care or concern for the employees. I hated working there and, though I needed the job, it was a welcomed change to leave. I started applying at different places and in less than a week I had several offers. I took the one that I thought would be the best, a sports themed restaurant that shows ALL the games. After a week of training we opened up the restaurant and even though we had 7 bartenders (3 too many) I quickly showed I was a good one. I was given a fair amount of shifts per week and things seemed to be going well.

Two weeks after opening the restaurant I had to leave for military training. All in all I missed 3 weeks at the restaurant. When I did come back and asked for shifts again, and was given 3 shifts, it started a big fight in the bar among the bartenders that have been working while I was gone. I was viewed, by them, as the new guy and they didn’t want to give up their shifts. I understand their concern. I volunteered to pick up shifts at other locations and thought I’d be transferred. However it did not work out as the new location only needed me for three shifts to cover for a vacationing bartender.

Back to square one.

I managed to get two shifts scheduled and pick up an extra one (not enough to pay the bills) but soon found myself telling the company that I was leaving again for two weeks training in South Carolina. This training was important for me to get and I seized the opportunity to get it. Bars often sell their jobs on the premise that the industry is flexible in staffing, unlike the rest of the world. Not entirely true.

When I came back from training I had no shifts for the next week. The week after, 1 shift. The week after that, zero and also the week after that. I had already been looking and applying for jobs but we were now in the Summer months in Oregon, a time that is notoriously bad for bar business. Our rushes occur later, business is down in many areas, and staff fight for diminishing shifts. I was now in a deep hole, behind on everything, and looking at unable to pay rent.

I applied for unemployment. I do work three other jobs, however they don’t support me. One is one weekend a month, the other two average two hours or so a week. I must have filled out a dozen different forms online, drove to the unemployment office to straighten out some discrepancies only to be handed a phone and waiting for twenty minutes to talk to someone on the other line who didn’t really ‘hear’ me and my situation.

I’ve still not received anything. When I gave up that I’ll get no shifts from the sports restaurant, I went in to collect my final paycheck and saw I was scheduled one shift. I worked it… and entire hour and a half. Tips were so low that I didn’t even bother splitting them with the ungrateful bartender working who is always angry with me coming in (I expect she is threatened by me, I don’t know) for shifts.

Meanwhile I keep looking for work. I went to a bar to apply, was 12th in line, and when I was interviewed they told me I knew answers that nobody else knew. I am a very good bartender. I know my stuff. They liked me, I knew they did. But then they noticed that I was in the National Guard and my having to go away for 1 out 4 weekends did not sit well with them. I did not get the job because of that.

When I first came back from my second round of training I was told to fill out paperwork for active duty orders that would allow me to travel around and help veterans. When I started the process I learned that it would take a couple of weeks. Now that I’ve learned that I need a ‘secret’ clearance on it, and I do not have one, I’ve learned that it might take a couple of months.

And rent is past due.

I went and rented a storage unit and spent the weekend packing everything up. While doing so I got an email asking if I could go give three lectures to some veterans. I would be happy to. During the moving process I’ve given five lectures on three different days.

People have asked me where I am going and when I tell them the various contingency plans that I have, some get concerned and I can read shock on their face. Sleep in a truck? A tent? Oh no! It is this that keeps me from telling most people that have asked me. I know that among the many friends and associates in my contact list that I have many options. I’ve had keys handed to me, offers for money, and so on. This is not a scary place for me. I’ve been through worse, purposefully and not. I have lots of things going for me, I am not doing bad, and I am not in despair. I am, after all is said and done, an optimist.

The despair comes from my two cats. Having two cats severely limits my options. It hinders movement, places to stay, costs, times, and everything. The thoughts of getting rid of my cats caused me great distress. All of the emotional connections I’ve found it impossible to create with people for any length of time are made with my cats. They’ve been my ‘kids’ and many nights have found us three piled up on a couch reading books or watching t.v.

However, things have come to a head. I’ve stayed in a hotel the last two days and will be leaving tomorrow. To gain more mobility I’ve opted to give my cats a good home. Far down in the sub reaches of someplace within I can feel a twinge of the great sense of loss that I know is there. But if I’ve learned to do one thing very well over the past twenty two years, it is to cut off my connections. I do this very well, at times without my wanting it to. This skill, used with my own mother and some relationships, was honed into a very formidable skill after Iraq.

So now it is that I do start another job (tomorrow). Tomorrow I also hope to finalize moving in to a near perfect place to live, but the timeline on this is still up in the air. It could be a day or three.

Tonight I take my two furballs to a new home and let them get settled in. And then I am going to go have a shot of whiskey, or two, and hopefully talk to someone who doesn’t pity me or try to save me.


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