A Matter of Conscience

Credit: Hugh MacLeod

I found out this morning that someone I worked with is dead. He didn’t come to work yesterday and no one could get in touch with him, so some people went by his place to check on him. They found him face down in his pillow. He was 26.

He was 26 and now he’s gone. When I was 26, I found out I was going to be a father. But before I found that out, I’d sit up late reading books and getting high in the spare room at my parent’s place, thinking about how much of a failure I’d already become, and wondering whether I’d have the courage to silence the screeching voices in my head if there was a gun in the night table next to me if.

Then life gave me a shot in the mouth and reminded me that it’s not all about me, that there are other people around me, and some of them are depending on me. So I sobered up and pulled my shit together. Since then, I’ve been doing what I have to do to take care of business. I’ve been running the rat race, taking it in the tuckus from bosses, dealing with lay-offs, and doing what I have to do to make ends meet. But I never stopped wondering if maybe there are more ends than I really need.

Now life has given me another slap off the head, and I there’s no more avoiding that this is it. No dress rehearsals, no glory laps. Every shot you don’t take is a shot you miss, and every shot you miss is a little piece of you lost forever. But fuck it, ’cause soon it’s all going to be over, and none of it will matter much anyway, so I mind as well be able to sleep with myself in the meantime so that I can enjoy it as much as possible.

Unmarried with Children

My buddy just got out of a relationship. He needs a wingman, but can’t find one. One of his best friends has the mind of a freshman, and I’m “married with children.

Most men who are married with children don’t go out drinking on a work night. Many of them never go out drinking at all. But my buddy was being facetious. I’m not really married. I have a baby-mama, not a wife, and I don’t live with her. I live with my girlfriend.

The reason I was out drinking on a work night was that my girlfriend wasn’t talking to me. She caught a glimpse of me and my baby-mama talking on the corner outside our place when my baby-mama came to pick up our son. When I went back inside, she told me she didn’t want to talk to me. So I left. Our place isn’t that big, and I don’t like awkward silences. They’re awkward.

I rented a bicycle to go cash my paycheck at the bank. When I came out, there was an altercation with a middle-aged woman who couldn’t figure out the rent-a-bike stand. She didn’t want my help. I didn’t want to wait for her. I said nasty things to her in a loud voice. And then I took a walk up and down the street until she was gone. You can’t always get what you want (my mother taught me that).

Then I showed up at my buddy’s place with a six pack. We talked shit and conclude bitches is crazy. BitchesIsCrazy.com is already registered — to some guy in Portugal.

We finished the six pack and then went to eat Indian food at a dive bar a few block away. The food was really good. The draft beer wasn’t. We finished both of them. And then I went home.

I’d been gone about four and a half hours. I don’t think I ever got further than six blocks in any direction. I was more tired than drunk. My girlfriend was on the couch watching the news. I said “hi.” She just looked at me. I went into the office. She went to bed. I slept on the couch.

In the morning, there was nothing but a note for me. It said the the door repairman was coming Saturday morning. I went to work.