Aisle Of Wit

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Need A Lyft? I Sure Do

On many occasions when I compose these musings, I’m often doing so when it’s quite dark, quiet and the world is otherwise asleep. For those of you who are perhaps too distant or detached to know better, or even care for a millisecond about the feelings that go into this, suffice to say on many, many nights and mornings when you are far more comfortable with the current state of your world than am I, you are much more secure in your place in the world than I am.

On this occasion, I’m perhaps as unsettled as I’ve ever been. You see, yesterday my net worth dipped yet again, this time below yet another column that I was already uncomfortable admitting to. I won’t give actual details, because I cannot begin to tell you how angry and frustrated people who claim to consider themselves friends are at me for sharing any of this with anyone–they are absolutely determined that I hide my truth to anyone who might somehow be motivated to help me change that fact.

Frankly, the frustration I feel toward these alleged support systems has now reached the boiling point. They not only have not offered to help me in any tangible way, they continue to exist in their entitled bubbles and refuse to even listen to me explain my actual reality. Somehow, it seems, the fear of their own financial struggles are so great, so overwhelmin- at least, that’s what random advisers seem to believe–that I have touched a nerve it them that is so deep, so absolutely tied to their own self-worth, that they cringe at the thought of my even reminding them of it.

Here’s my actual reality at this writing. Right now, my struggle to find clients, or even interviews, is so dire, so empty, so commpletely bereft of any real hope, that I am driving my car, which at least today I can still afford gas, insurance and payments on, for rideshare services. It took me nearly a year to navigate the confusing (to me) myriad of uploading insurance forms, inspection notices, and approvals to finally figure things out–frankly, had my timing been off another couple of days, the ability to have cut through this clutter at a physical office would bave been lost as well. There ARE “greenlight” offices where actual human beings can answer questions for Uber; they’re just closing one by one lately because, if you haven’t noticed, like many gig economy businesses they’re not doing that well financially either. This week, Lyft laid off more than 10 per cent of their workforce, and Uber’s past woes have already made for a marginally successful Showtime series, SUPER PUMPED. I hear Showtime isn’t doing all that well these days, either.

In fact, this has been one of the most depressing weeks in recent memory for people I respect, once worked me and aspire to work with agan. Lyft was one of many tech-oriented businesses that laid off significant portions of their work force; Twitter was the noisiest and deepest of them, but in addition Amazon announced freezes , Stripe laid off hundreds, Paramount, Warner Brothers Discovery and AMC all announced they fell short of third quarter revenue projections, and a number of former senior colleagues of mine at Sony Pictures Televison were also 86ed. So it shouldn’t be all that surprising that as I’m attending a festival where tech and media convergence is being actively discussed and pitched, thankfully in person and, for the most part, by people who are confident enough to not cover their faces, most of the conversation about actual employment has been “we’ll consider it; but right now isn’t a good time”.

I even ran into several folks who once respected me a lot who collaborated on a project that was hurriedly commissioned and provided some income for a recently laid off and highly respected peer. No, I wasn’t even considered. The owner of the company that was in charge of the project was standing right in front of me. At one time, when I was in a position to hire them, he would have literally bent over backwards to curry my favor. On this occasion, after his public assurance that they were doing still more deep dives into the numerous still-burning questions their work uncovered, he privately mocked me and said “We’re good for now, but I’ll keep you in my prayers”.

Prayers. “I’ll keep you in mind”. “You’re In My Thoughts”. “Thoughts and Prayers”. It’s pretty much all I hear these days. Along with other rejoinders such as “We’re heading for a recession”. “The election deniers are likely going to win”. “My social security might be taken away”. “I had cancer”. “My mom died”. “My friend got COVID”. “You shouldn’t be so selfish in thinking it’s all about you”. “I can identify with your pain”. “Sorry for your loss.” Et cetera. Et Cetera.

So, no, it’s not a good time to be needy. And yet, in the midst of it, somehow, my supposed best friend found the capacity to plunk down over $60,000 in cash for a brand new electric SUV, park it in a driveway of his fully paid for home, continuing to earn a six figure salary where only recently he has been required to actually do any work to earn it, and is so detached from my reality that he now not only refuses to even listen to me, but blames me for my own situation. You should never be honest with people online, he lectures. This friend won’t even use his own actual face–he uses a cartoon avatar of himself. He won’t even wish you a happy birthday–for him, the letters “irth” are too much trouble for him to type, “Happy B-Day!” is how signature, regardless of whether you’ve actually met him or not. As if that’s more than enough to sustain anyone.

Boy, I sure hope you fall into the category of those who think how he’s treating me is OK. Because when I look at my net worth, when I cannot sleep when I ponder exactly how dire my situation actually is, I really need a lot more than just a half-typed pat on the back. I could use a couple of bucks to get me over the hump. Or at least an actual lead on an actual job that’s more than just a link. And, yes, I’m including non-industry ones at that. I bet plenty of you know entrepreneurs who might consider hiring someone as hungry and as motivated as I am who will not consider it beneath them to drive his car for rideshare companies just to bne able to afford rent and gas–yes, MY car isn’t electric, sorry, those of you who think I’m destroying the environment with my negative carbon footprint. I wish I could be like you, but now’s not the time. See above for a few reasons.

So, yes, right now, I”m driving for Lyft and Uber. And I’m not ashamed to tell you that. Because unlike so many others who would consider it beneath them, or are fortunate enough to have no such burning need, I have no other choice. It’s this or the streets for me. And if I hit the streets–I know myself well enough that I’ll likely not survive very long.

How bad are things? Well, let me give you this perspective. Thanks to surge bonuses, I made more last night in fares and tips than I had in my checking account at that time. And not a lot less than I had in savings. Anywhere. Anyone who knows people or entities who think they’re gonna get anything from me that they think I might owe them will need to take note of that.

Am I proud of this? Absolutely not. Am I hopeful things will improve? Shockingly, yes. Although an awful lot of alleged supporters are very quick to remind me of the obstacles of age, gender, ethnicity, and, yes, honestly that are all stacked up against me. Let alone the economic and political storm clouds that are gathering like a looming tsunami, that is contributing to this flood of emotion that I can’t stop pouring out as the night deepens and my mood darkens.

To anyone who may thinking Im losing my mind and am unworthy of working–no, no, no, no, NO!!! My mind, my knowledge, my track record, my ability, my resilience, my dererination, my resolve, my NEED TO DO BETTER, is as inflamed as the tension that will be gripping every polling place on Tuesday. You think the Lake and Mastrianno supporters with actual weapons are determined? They haven’t met me, and I don’t think they’d want to. No, I’m not gonna be armed with anything that can actually cause damage. I don’t believe in that.

To anyone who thinks my honesty is self-defeating, or who think they faxt they’ve had to overcome illnesses makes them more entitied to support than me, I’d merely request that you consider the deep hurt, embarassment and shame I feel every single time I stare at my net worth and the absolute lack of any empathy I receive. I don’t diminish what any of you have had to overcome. I find it so absolutely unfathomably cruel so many of you believe I’m not worthy of the same.

And for those of you who are still supposedly considering me for opportunties and, God willing, a position somewhere, I’d simoly ask you to consider this: If anything I’ve written in the past few minutes has moved you in the slightest, even given you a nanosecond to ponder exactly how deeply I’m feeling hurt, ridiculed, yet nevertheless DETERMINED to regain something close to dignity, even under circumstances as dire as I what I see, imagine for just another nanosecond how awesome I can be working that magic for your bottom line?

I still believe there are many of you out there, perhaps some I barely know, perhaps even some I’ve yet to meet, that might somehow see things as I see them. More than ever, I really, really need to have some sort of encouragement. Things are THAT bad. And I’m well aware it’s a shitty time for a lot of others, too. So perhaps the pious hope for immediate income or financial help is a bit too much to hope for–at least today.

When you drive for a rideshare company, ypu’re graded on a one to five scale. I’m proud to say to far I’m rated 5.0 stars by Lyft passengers. I probably couldn’t pick them out of a police lineup, and I highly doubt any of them are reading this. But if somehow you are, you’ve done much, much, more to give me a reason to keep going of late than people who claim to consider me a friend or family member have. I may have given you a Lyft, but you’ve lifted me far higher. And yes, the tips were more than so many others have even thought of offering.

So most sincere thanks to those of you who actually have and continue to help. You give me reason to think better days are ahead.

This is also a time of year that a lot of anniversaries are approaching; I’m reminded of that in my Facebook timeline. Two years ago. I was in an amazing living situation that was about to crumble in ways I’m still reeling from. One year ago, I net some people for the first time who also contributed to some unfortunate events moving forward. Eighteen years ago, I was married. That didn’t go very well, either. 21 years ago, Mariano Rivera imploded in Phoenix. Some of those events linger more than others. But they all don’t exactly brighten my already dark mood.

So try and forgive the negativity of this post. Try and cut me SOME slack. Try and find it in your heart to actually give one scintilla of compassion to someone who cannot believe his life has fallen this far. That so much rejection, heartbreak, frustration, embarassment, pain and hurt has been inflicted on me, strictly because I chose not to die when so many would have preferred that I had. And some, if given the chance, might actually like to end it all for me as soon as tonight.

I highly doubt that will happen, but you never know what a new day brings. Y’all seem to think it’s worth waking up for, so I’ll at least be open to it.

As I type this, one particularly supportive friend with sleep patterns as odd as mine has sent me several job listings. I’ll for a second suspend my disbelief and will vow I’ll respond to every one of those links, knowing full well the odds against such replies. But he at least is trying to help and believes in me. That’s a helluva more than someone who claimed to be my best friend has shown me of late, while he jokes about me being one of the fools who still has to buy gas.

So thanks to my sleepless friend, and to any of you who might actually think I deserve better friends than some of those I’ve thought I had.

Good night for now, and pleasant dreams.

Until next time…