Friday, October 9, 2009

Escaping my hiding place - Chapter Two

CHAPTER TWO


“Wisdom isn’t acquired from sitting in a classroom;

It’s acquired by walking though life”


At first there was one really good thing about looking for a job; I was so undeniably crap at it, that the possibility of getting hired by anyone was about as likely as me being cast as the hero in the next ..Hollywood.. blockbuster and being paid so much I would never have to work again.

I was crap at applying for jobs. I would read the paper and 95% of jobs seemed to have a pre-requisite that applicants must be outgoing and have good communication skills. So 95% of companies seeking employees had rejected me before I had finished reading their advert.

With the few that didn’t require this I was crap at making a phone call to express an interest. I’d walk around the phone on the floor for a whole hour. Then I would pick it up and listen to the dial tone until it ceased. I would do this about four or five times. Then I would try again and actually dial the number. I would listen to the first ring and then hang up. This I would do about four times, each time letting it ring for a about half a ring more. Until eventually it was answered and I was forced to say something. I would mumble out a pre-prepared monologue about how I had seen their job advertisement and would like to express my interest in applying for it. It always sounded great and impressing and intellectual in my head before actually making the call. However for some god only knows reason every time I got on the phone I sounded like a boxer giving a post fight interview after being knocked out cold and fracturing his jaw.

Amazingly I found that 95% of the low paying shit kicker jobs I would actually get around to applying for, had already had so many quality applicants that by an hour after the ad first appeared in the newspaper the job was already taken. Obviously someone had been so impressive over the phone that the employer was blown away and decided against bothering with interviews or even meet and greets and gave the job to them on the spot. Damn arseholes, I’d like to fracture all their jaws.

Occasionally, like once a month, someone would say “sure come on in for an interview”. I would then turn up for these thirty minutes early, but still only get the courage to go in five minutes late. By which time I was dripping in sweat like I’d been out surfing for the morning and had forgotten to take a towel or a change of clothes with me. My hair would look like my favorite pastime was sticking metal things into power points (I have only actually tried this once, it wasn’t that bad, I passed out and didn’t wake up for ten hours, I rarely get anywhere near that much sleep). And my nerves would be like a bloody mess all over the road after a horrific fatal car crash.

I would then once again fail to enunciate a single word correctly in my far from impressive answers to simple questions like “why do you want to work here?” Which for some reason I would reply with something like “cause I need the money”, or “ummmm…… cause….. I like ….need a job”. It didn’t matter how much I prepared. My brain froze solid under this interrogation and I turned into a mental patient. Then eventually the interviewer would tell this reluctant interviewee that he was grateful I had come in and he would call soon.

He then never did call. This was a good thing. For one I hate getting any phone calls and having to converse with someone using entirely verbal skills. I need the non verbal forms of communication. It fills in the gaps in all the numerous uncomfortable silences I am capable of bringing into any conversation. Secondly it was good because there is nothing at all good about someone calling you up to say “congratulations I am calling to tell you that you have successfully managed to convince me that your worth shit all money an hour to scrape up some eight year olds vomited cheeseburger off my fast crap food restaurant floor”.

Instead my appalling dress sense, my unruly hair, which never ever does what it’s told, and my questionable personal hygiene was enough to convince some old lady at the unemployment office that despite living with my parents, I was indeed still so poor, and so un-hirable that I qualified for unemployment benefits.

In hindsight I actually have my parents to thank for being so lucky to not have to do a job, they were kind enough to every day remind me how much of a disgrace I was, and what a low life I was, and pretty much just guarantee that my self esteem would be so low that employment would continue to be an impossibility. So hey, maybe they weren’t all that bad for parents after all!

This enabled me to spend nearly a year being a complete bum, spending hours every day sleeping in, and then gorging myself with food while watching other people with even worse lives than me beat each other up on Jerry Springer. My favorite episode was one where a hugely overweight teenage girl was cheating on her biological brother boyfriend with her hugely overweight step mom.

This was followed by afternoons walking around the shops perving at pretty young girls who I knew would never talk to me even if I ever could muster up the courage to talk to them, and looking at wonderful amazing new products I would never be able to afford, and looking at trendy clothes like sweat pants with no holes in the knees. Ahhh I could of lived that life forever. No responsibilities. No one to answer to. No need to even say hello to another human being all day apart from my parents. My brothers had both moved on to great jobs and fancy apartments and beautiful girlfriends by this stage. So it was just me and my lovely insane mother and my dad Jason Senior, the one person I could always rely on to make me feel as useless as possible every day, just to ensure I never questioned whether I could have made more of myself.

Then disaster struck. I had a phone call from the depths of fire ridden hell.

“Hello is this Jason Domey” said the lady on the other end

“Yes it is ………speaking…….. I mean yes that’s me” I lamely replied

“This is Dorothy Daven calling from your unemployment office, how are you today Jason?” she cheerfully offered

“I’m ok I guess”

“Well I have good news for you Jason. You have been offered a job”

“OFFERED A JOB”

“Yes, as a night time security guard for a cling wrap factory out west”

“A SECURITY GUARD, I CANT BE A SECURITY GUARD!”

“Why not? I thought you would be happy, this is a great opportunity for you”

“BUT DON’T SECURITY GUARDS HAVE TO BE TOUGH AND CONFIDENT AND… I DON’T KNOW, NOT LIKE ME”

“Listen Jason, stop yelling, this is not something to be afraid of. This is a good job. It’s a cling wrap factory; they are not going to be robbed. You just have to be there walking around all night for insurance purposes. You start Monday night”

After panicking for days, nearly committing suicide four times, and wondering if I could afford to live without unemployment, I actually showed up for the first day, and as it turned out this was actually an excellent job for me. I was all alone, no one watching over me. No boss on my back. No customers complaining at me. All I had to do was every half hour on the half hour, walk around the factory for ten minutes shining my torch around a bit and make some noise, and then go back to the security office.

In the office I had two television screens; one had all of the factories security cameras in a ‘Brady Bunch’ formation of nine screens, and the other was just a regular television screen with a VCR attached.

I had a fridge which I could fill with what ever high fat high sugar snacks I wanted, and what ever high caffeine drinks I needed to stop from falling asleep. Usually Dr Pepper, my favorite. And best of all I could read. I have never been much of a reader before, apart from comics, but here it was different. It turned out in this male dominated factory the lovely employers had a bonus for their hard working staff. It seemed in like 1985 when the factory first opened the manager had kindly started a subscription to every porn magazine known to man to be kept in the company breaks room. This surprisingly popular habit was then continued by every subsequent manager from then on.

So to my great surprise, like the time your semi attractive science teacher decides the best way to teach the female reproductive system is with a real life demonstration (well so I’m told by the OTHER science class, lucky bastards), on the third night I worked there, when I finally decided to look in the closet in the security room, I found a porno collection which would make any 58 year old virgin leak with envy. There was everything imaginable, Playboy, including all the celebrity editions, Penthouse, Hustler, girls with big boobs, tiny titties, big arses, small arses and a bunch of stuff that it hadn’t occurred to me other human beings would consider doing to each other, especially not supposedly for pleasure, with someone taking photos!

As it turns out, when you’re a 20 year old guy, so bored that your brain is starting to make you sexually attracted to a cling wrap making machine, and have sixteen periods of twenty minutes to kill five nights a week, in which you have to constantly look up at a security screen; porn is the single best thing in the world. It never gets boring. There are things to read and lots of things to look at. It doesn’t take too much concentration. It can be looked at again and again without losing its impact. And as long as you bring enough tissues and remember to take them away, no one needs to know you were even reading them. Another thing which fits perfectly into twenty minute gaps!

So on the surface, as a job for good old JayJay - fucking perfect! Except at this stage of my life I had mastered the art of pessimism. I was an absolute expert at it. I was able to turn every scrap of paper lying around into a spider hell bent on revenge because I had accidentally killed its brother. And even more frightening was I was able to imagine that every car that drove past was about to stop and run into the place with a huge shotgun, shoot dead any guard and then run off with a ten meter in diameter roll of cling wrap. Which they would then take to the nearest house filled with a sexy young couple and wrap up the boyfriend and move onto raping the gorgeous girlfriend (how come they get to have sex with a gorgeous young girl’s, it’s just not fair), and then not only would I die painfully and disgustingly in a bloody mess on the dirty floor of stupid cling wrap factory, but I would always be remembered as the loser security guard who had let the rape happen, and her family and her boyfriend and his family would all hate me and piss on my grave, and it would soak through to my rotting body. Which I had discovered only in death that, if you’ve been a bad boy, god decides to let you stay alive, still with all your senses, so you can feel yourself rotting away and still smell and feel the urine soaking into all the rips in your flesh, which give you only a minor relief from the maggots eating away at your insides.

So I did my rounds every night shaking like I had just been in sauna in Finland and some bully had come in and thrown me out into the snow. Every time a car drove past my heart would start thumping so hard and loud that I thought I was in some night club listening to the boom, boom, boom of the base from monotonous techno music. Apart from brief moments when I lost myself in a porno magazine inspired fantasy I spent five nights a week from ..10pm.. till ..6am.. building myself into more and more of a scared mental wreck.

On top of that when I would get home at about 730am after the long commute on the bus, then the train, then the bus, I would take hours to calm down enough to sleep. By which time the sun was well and truly up and my mother would start to do her chores for the day, which for some god only knows reason seemed to involve vacuuming, or dusting, or banging wooden stick against pots and pans or something out the front of my bedroom door every morning at the exact same moment - the very second I fell asleep. Then I would spend a couple more hours desperately trying to get back to sleep with the sunlight sneaking through the cracks in the curtains like some evil poltergeist refusing to give up trying to get at me until at the very least my whole day was ruined.

When you’re struggling to sleep you can hear the sound of socks being folded together in another room, you can hear the sound of a line of ants walking up the wall, you can hear people in other suburbs talking about how much of a loser you are, you can hear damn near anything, and anything is enough to stop you from falling asleep.

Until finally, finally I would get to sleep and I would have weird pshycadelic dreams. I’d dream of giants and monsters, and purple people knocking on my head, and being chased by beams of light, and falling - out of planes, off cliff faces and into bottomless pits. Or dreams of being able to fly but not being able to get off the ground, or being able to run but not be able to get started.

I don’t know if I only had bad dreams, but I know I only remembered the bad ones. They made me wake up every day feeling like someone was sitting on me, and if I wanted to get up I’d have to carry there weight around on me all day.

I would eventually wake up just as the sun had begun to set and drag myself into the shower. When I was a kid I hated showers. Just seemed like such a waste of time which could be much better put to use watching cartoons or risking my life on some unsteady jump I had built with stolen construction materials so that I could attempt to jump over my bike on my skateboard. However in my older years I began to cherish shower time. I’d stand under the spray of water for as long as I could take the heat, it was warm and safe, and pretty much the only time I ever had where I felt totally alone, and able to stop worrying about my next social situation.

Then I would have my breakfast/dinner. When you work nights the first meal of the day is quite weird. My mother would sometimes cook me something like lasagna or some Asian dish heavy in rice, and it would be a real struggle to swallow it. On the other hand cereal just doesn’t feel right when the sun is setting and your father is arriving home from work. Of course he didn’t give a shit how hard it was for me to eat dinner food for breakfast, he wanted dinner food and he was bloody well going to get dinner food whether I liked it or not. If I wanted breakfast food I’d have to make it myself, so I usually had what he was having no matter how bad it made me feel.

Then I would watch TV, anything at all, anything to distract my mind from my pessimism and paranoia. I mostly like to watch comedies, much easier to get lost in a comedy than in a drama. Dramas bring up too many issues which you have to deal with yourself, and it’s much harder for me to overcome my issues than some rich kid with model looks and girls all over him from ....Beverly Hills.... or somewhere.

After TV I would get into my security uniform about as slowly as it’s possible to put on clothes. I’d then look in the mirror for a long time. I’d stare at myself in the uniform. I have heard cops and other security people say when they caught a glimpse of themselves in the mirror they would feel strong, and powerful, and dominant, and in control. I felt like a fraud. I consumed myself with regret and blame at myself, at my parents and god for setting me on this path.

Then I would start the long commute back to work. The bus, the train, the bus. I would sit on the uncomfortable chairs and sit and stare at the one or two other people in my carriage or on my bus. The kinds of people who get public transport at night really look like the kinds of people who would get public transport at night. They’re poorly dressed, they have frown wrinkles all over their faces so that every face they make looks menacing, angry and bitter, and they have evil spirits in their eyes. I guess I looked pretty ordinary too. Not the in the threat of violence way I looked at people though, more in the “don’t go near me or I am likely to pick my nose and eat it in front of you” way.

I often spent a lot of that time staring at those people and imagining the more and more elaborate ways in which they would murder me if we got off at the same stop. From beheading me in their basements, to tying me up on an ant hill and watching the ants slowly bite tiny, tiny chunks of my flesh until I slowly and oh so painfully died, to being stuffed down a garbage shoot, first my feet, then as far up my legs as would fit, then my hands and arms, then they would watch my limbless bloody body attempt to crawl around the floor, laughing, hysterically laughing with tears of joy streaming down their face. While I would wail as I bleed to death trying to get anywhere somehow where I could end the misery faster.

I didn’t think many people thought I would do that to them. For one thing they were obviously fantasizing about murdering me, so wouldn’t give too much thought to me doing it back to them. But more importantly I looked young, I was twenty but looked fifteen, I looked small and weak. I couldn’t hurt a ladybug, and believe me I have tried (damn things too hard to catch). No wonder they wanted me to be their next victim. I was an easy target. I was alone. It was bound to happen one day.

I tried to quit my job but was told in no uncertain terms that I would not get unemployment benefits if I quit. So I didn’t know what to do. Then it hit me like a bolt of lightening - which would actually leave me a dead charcoaled stump of melting flesh! I have always wondered why people say they were hit like a bolt of lightening like it was a good thing. Anyway I had an idea pop into my head like a light bulb glowing above my head - what the hell is the deal with that one?

Another thing while I think about it, why is it when people let out a secret, do they say they let the cat out of the bag? What kind of cruel bastard puts a cat in a bag? And why is to kill two birds with one stone a good thing, is it supposed to make you resourceful or lucky, it just makes you a cruel person if you ask me. I think PETA should have some stern words with the makers of all these sayings.

One more, who cares if a tree falling in the woods makes a sound or not if there is no one around, by definition there isn’t anyone around to care. And how often does a tree fall in the woods by itself anyway, don’t most trees fall over because some prick took to it with a big ass chainsaw? If they don’t hear it, it’s probably from going deaf at the extreme racket they make as they saw away at the earth’s source of oxygen! Also if you have had two lots of bad luck in a row how can it be “bad luck comes in threes” and also “third time lucky”? Clichés really make me mad sometimes.

So anyways I was saying that I had an idea, like say Einstein sitting in a patents office dreaming of light beams. See that’s a better analogy and no animals were hurt in the making of that analogy, it suddenly hit me, I have a job, I have a pay cheque, I could move out, I could leave my parents behind, I could move closer to work and not have an hour and a half commute each way every day to send me insane. Amazingly it only took me seven months of employment to figure that out.

So I did it. I got the single best apartment I could find in my price range. It was a basement level bed-sit, no rooms, a small space with a kitchenette in a corner, a doorless bathroom with a dirty grimy curtain less shower, and one window looking out directly onto the street where an old stolen car lay after being burnt out.

On the positive side it was only ten minutes walk from work. No more trains or buses, fuckoff trainspotting! And I had shops all down my street, there was a supermarket, and a bottleshop with excellent boxes of wine, there was a video shop, and pub, and laundry mat, and even a pizza hut.

I bought a fantastic curtain for in front of the window. It had lots of tiny Homer Simpson’s strangling Bart and lots of other Homer Simpson’s stepping on a nail right through his foot and exclaiming “D’OH”. It made me laugh, but unfortunately it didn’t block out enough light to let me sleep.

In frustration after about ten whole days of barely any sleep, I ran down to the hardware store, bought a can of black spray paint and spray painted the window black. I could still open it any time I wanted to replace the smell of my overflowing toilet with the smell of the garbage rotting in the street. Or if I wanted to check to see if my favorite burnt out car was still there, or if I wanted to see if any attractive prostitutes would finally move into the neighborhood and look for their tricks right outside my window. But most importantly now when my window was shut and the lights were off it was pitch black. And I slept; I slept like a baby, like a dead baby, like a coma patient, like a drunk in gutter at two in the morning, like a koala bear after eating his three thousandth three hundred and sixty fifth eucalyptus leaf of the day. I fell asleep after work the easiest I had fallen asleep anywhere since my last trigonometry class in high school. And things were good… for a while.

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