Finding Serendipity

During Thanksgiving week, I wrote some pretty spiteful hateful shit. Thankfully, I’ve decided not to share it here.

Other than being bored with my life, I had no particular reason to leave Maine. I now find myself doing almost EXACTLY THE SAME JOB that I was doing five years ago. I live in a rooming house. The days consist of work early in the AM, and then off to the coffee shop or library for some writing time.

Nah, no difference there at all. I now can think of a thousand reasons I should have stayed, a few sticking damned near the top of that long list. There is someone I should have been there for, but wasn’t.

To be true, there is more opportunity here than there was in Maine. I’m working with a new drycleaning technology that only a handful of cleaners are using around the country (called GenX if you care to Google it). We’re the test bed, or the guinea pigs…depending on your perspective.

Truth is, my feet are still a bit itchy. As each day passes, you’d think the call of the road would get softer and softer. It doesn’t. Over the last week the sound rose to that of a metal show in a tightly boxed arena.

As much as things like zoning and building approval used to be a nightmare back home, some of that stuff is easy here. What IS a nightmare is your identity.

You wander in, looking for a job. You have adequate ID to purchase a gun, property, open a bank account, buy whiskey…but not to get a job.

State ID, preferably from Florida. Certified copy of your birth certificate. Your official Social Security card (which I last saw sometime in 1986 when joining the US Army.)  Without ALL of it, you are totally and completely fucked.

Want to GET a Florida ID or license? you SHOULD be able to present your state ID or license and get it swapped over, easy peasy.  You can’t…you STILL need all of the above shit.

You’d think even an expired passport, issued by the US State Department might be enough. That would at least prove that at one time, you presented all of those documents (and more) to satisfy Federal Authorities that you weren’t some tourist, terrorist, or Canadian.

   Guys, I don’t want to crash a plane into a fucking building. Voting would be nice. I just want to go to work, and not be a burden to society. Stop being asshats about it.





A Column, And Some Other Stuff

Had a column in this week about being an accidental snowbird here in FL.  Seemed to go well, and the hope is to use this as a springboard to get the Sarasota Observer to pick me up as a weekly columnist. Initial walk in went well, so this weekend will be dedicated to churning out a “test” column and mailing it to the editor to see if they like the flow.

Killing time until my friend from Maine gets down here in a couple of weeks. Topping off the list of things to do this weekend will be figuring out what to do with my blog over at the Bangor Daily News.

My body seems to have rediscovered whiskey. This will not end well.


Life With An STD

Yes, I have an STD.

Not in the usual sense of the usage, (Sexually Transmitted Disease)

I have a Stupidity Tolerance Disorder

I’ve been here in Sarasota a little under a month. Today, that disease led me to tell the Operations Manager that as soon as the Plant Manager came back from his trip to Europe on Monday…I’m planning to be out of there.

Hell, I MIGHT even give them a two week notice, provided I last that long. Those that know me, or have worked (or lived) with me know full well of my disorder.

Here’s a laugh. When I took the job, all I was looking for was a quick payday and a bus ticket. Somehow, in that three week period I ended up subbing for the plant manager. Yes, he promised to call and check in every day to answer stupid questions and see how things were going. That was last Thursday, and not a soul has heard from him since. I guess that promise was the equivalent of “just the tip…I swear.”

I should have made something abundantly clear. I did not want the responsibility. I’ve had it before, many times. That leads to stress, heavier drinking (if that’s even possible) and an explosively short temper that will eventually lead me to a lengthy prison term or a bed in a nice white room with one of those funny jackets with the arms that tie in the back.

I ask someone not to do a certain thing, and they do it anyway. Then, I ask again, patiently explaining why. They do it again. Third time being the charm, I try again, s-l-o-w-l-y.

When they do that same thing AGAIN after that…I lose my shit.

By the way, Monday was my birthday. One gift I received was a spider bite, possibly from the dreaded brown recluse spider. My leg swelled up to the size of an extra clenched fist.

Tossing all that on top of the new place I just rented, a room. It’s a charming little room, with a choice of two bathrooms fairly close by. It’s a great place to raise kids…2 or three billion of them, if you’re a cockroach. The place has a checkered history of those circling the drain. They rented me the room of a 350 pound guy that, as near as anyone could figure, never ever bathed. They took fifteen bags of trash out of his 10X9 room BEFORE they bug bombed it. Then, they replaced the rug and the bed.

I was considered lucky to even get in that room. The other choice was the room of a guy who sat on his bed and slit his writs and bled out…then laid there dead in his room for four days before anyone noticed. (Yes, even in Florida heat.)

Or, there was the room of the 30 year old crackhead who died, like Elvis, on the toilet.

Yes, all these things led me to a conclusion, that I should pick up and move on. Actually, I should sprint as far from Sarasota as I can get. I liked it at first, but the vibe is weird here. Who can live in a town where it’s impossible to get a convenience store coffee before 6AM? (they’re all closed…damned inconvenient.)

I know in the vaguely defined search of what I’m looking for, nothing in the above was on that list. I may be stuck here until December 2nd, when a friend is planning to be down this way. Until then, give me clarity…and patience.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

The last couple of weeks have been busy ones. Apologies to the legions of fans following this blog.

This week, I’m pretty sure I came in close to sixty hours, clocked…plus some time off the clock. The plant manager who hired me took off to Europe to see his wife for the first time in three years. I’m “filling in” for him temporarily, though the main job seems to be keeping the flow moving and making sure he doesn’t come back to a smoking crater in ten days.

A bit ago, I touched on the “Why Sarasota?” thing. The answer was simple. I ran out of money in Tampa, and Sarasota was the next stop on the line. I did know an old friend who lived a bit north of here, but I was looking for a fresh start. A lot of this blog was about proving a simple point.

No matter who you are…no matter where you are, you can survive. You just have to want it bad enough.

I don’t mean “want” in the way most adults (and children) use the word. I mean WANT. If getting a job means getting up at 3AM after sleeping on the floor of the Salvation Army, you do it. If it means working a fourteen or fifteen hour day, you do it. Work on Sunday? DO IT.

That, my friends, it the definition of want.

We can all piss and moan about the lack of jobs, or affordable housing, or Obamacare, or what the fuck ever. The jobs are there. The housing is there. I think of it this way. A diabetic might WANT an automated insulin pump system…but NEEDS a bottle of insulin and a needle.

A lot of the good things that happened to me on this trip was the result of some fine friends back home who wired me some quick cash. Another was a staggering amount of luck, both good and bad.

I still haven’t found what I was looking for here in Sarasota. I’ll lay over here for a bit, stash away some cash, and keep getting ready for the next leg. It might be a week down the road, or a year. Part of the problem is a simple one.

If you don’t really know what it is you’re looking for, you never really know if you find it.

When personal icon/hero Hunter S. Thompson wrote “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas” he claimed to be in a search for the American Dream. What really happened was simpler. He was a storyteller, and his friend Ruben Salazar was deep in the shit. He had to get his friend out of town for a couple of days before he woke up with his throat cut. They took off on a tear ass journey to Vegas, and with some side work HST justified book expenses. Salazar became the character of the Samoan Attorney, and the rest wrote itself.

That search for the American Dream. We’ve all wanted to go out tear-assing across the country looking for the undefined and the undefinable. On that journey, Thompson discovered a country ripped to shreds by opinions of war, double dipped in a drug war, in the midst of an economic meltdown. We were in that no-mans-land between the sentiment of the sixties and the raging ruthless crush for cash that would define the 1980′s.

Yup. The times certainly have changed. I guess nobody else sees any parallels.

One thing about journalism and its current state struck me hard on this trip. A couple of weeks ago, there was the story of the possible national truckers strike, threatening to shut down the DC beltway.

NYT, WaPo, HuffingOnPaint, every national media outlet ran pretty much the same story. Nobody knew if it was real or bullshit. We would just have to wait to find out. Every story looked and sounded the same, like the reporter had made the required three calls, asked the required questions,filed the required number of column inches, then left the office for the day for the required shots at the home bar before the requirement of doing the old lady.

Fucking lazy.

Blind luck put me at  the Flying J Truckstop in Ruther Glen, Va…just six miles from the “rally point” for the protesters. If they were going to DC, there was a 90 percent likelihood that they would stop there to fuel up first before going to the rally.

How hard would it have been for AP or Thompson/Reuters to pick up the notes from somebody already there, or at the very least chase a local reporter out there and give him a national story credit? It was so impossible, nobody bothered.

A friend has the Sustainable Journalism Alliance website. I can see why he is worried about the state of journalism. We’ve grown too complacent. Even if the smell of blood in the water draws every shark within twenty miles, some sharks do have to keep moving and keep hunting, and chomp down on anything they come across just to see if there is any meat to it.

Thus endeth the lesson.