Aisle Of Wit

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With Friends Like This…

It’s been a really tough week, and it is in this safe space that I will admit to those of you willing to read this exactly how much so.  I own up to the fact that much of the pain and suffering I endure are through a series of poor choices I have made throughout my life, including life partners, professional lines I chose not to cross and personal ones I could not help myself to.  I’m human, dammit, and I’m frankly sick of having to constantly pay the price for being so, more than I dare say so many others have.

But, honestly, I never thought one of the most hurtful inflicters of that pain would have been someone who once purported to my best friend.

In hindsight, I probably should have been more aware of the warning signs.  In almost every phase of our lives, my supposed best friend always seemed to have an edge over me, or at least was able to create the perception they did.  Their family was slightly better off than mine, they had a car that seemed to work more often than ours did, a dad who drove and more room to move around in.  We both got pretty decent grades, but my friend was determined to do far better, and worked nonstop at both studying and kissing up to teachers to assure they wound up with the highest possible ones.  My friend always seemed to have the sun revolving around him for projects; I was, at best, the diligent number two.  And never missed a beat to remind anyone within shouting distance that the pecking order almost always had me at number two.

Years later, at one of the few times in our lives when my career trajectory was slightly better than this person’s,  I actually sold them in to my new bosses as the perfect person for a new block of content they were looking to create for our channel.  This person came in as a fellow executive, and I embraced it.  We were known as “the evil twins”, and I’d like to believe in most cases they respected us both for our specific talents.  We’d collaborate at times, and we were often more entertaining that the content that we would working with.

And now, here I am, decades later, in absolutely desperate need of a shoulder to cry on, the mere act of picking up a phone has now become so abhorrent to my onetime best friend that I’ve actually been able to count exactly how many times, without a previous message or request for call back in the last three and half years.  It’s FOUR.

So I suppose I should already be over any sense of disbelief that despite the fact that this person is in charge of a staff, and has survived a colleague who tragically passed and now CAN choose who is hired, and also is a co-head of a legacy project where my skill sets are perfectly suited, not only have I ever been given a chance to work on them, my requests to be involved were shot down summarily.

This person has found a new version of what I used to be, a willing, almost overly eager Sancho Panza to their Don Quixote.  Revering this person publicly with every opportunity to do so, and advancing their own career in the process.  A constant companion to social outings, if you can call free TV show tickets such.

I had to ask for my one opportunity.  And haven’t been invited back since.

This person is indeed helping me a little financially, though there’s a ticking clock on that.  The world’s timetable isn’t quite what either one of us had expected.  I am absolutely overwhelmed with the reality check that that help may be fleeting because, in this person’s view, I’m a lazy, ungrateful, disrespectful bitter old man who refuses to make they consider to be a sacrifice that they believe would demonstrate true commitment.

Yes, for the moment, I’m not willing to give up a physical copy of the Sunday New York Times.

For the record, that newspaper is something I’ve had an attachment to even longer than my onetime friend.  And it’s $24 a month at the newsstand, much less if you subscribe.  We are talking PENNIES a day.

If you saw my latest update on my debt, you’d realize that the impact of dropping it doesn’t even qualify as neglible.  For those who may not have seen it lately, here it is.  Click at your own risk, though I’d ask that you do.

And yet, apparently, it is THIS issue that has this person so angry at me that they have complained to others through back channels about it.  I merely get texts these days, without any openness to context.

And judgement.  LOTS of judgement.

You’d better believe there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t wake up in tears.  Not just because of my impossibly futile job search–one this person COULD SOLVE IF THEY WANTED TO.  Not just because of my truly dire financial situation that worsened markedly in the last month.  Not just because the uncertain holiday season (continuing strikes, threatened government shutdown, etc.) all but assures that my quest for solvency will likely extend into a FIFTH calendar year.

But mostly because this onetime best friend literally is too busy, or too self-important, or something, to ACTUALLY EVEN PICK UP A PHONE.


Apparently, so many more objective people who could see this behavior from a distance were right.  For decades I defended this person in spite of it.  In spite of being lectured, sometimes with screams, as to how many wrong decisions I made, but yet, fully unwilling to offer anything more than often misinformed direction on how to solve it.  And since the pandemic, this has excerbated.  “Cautious” would be an understatement to describe this person and their spouse.  The last time I saw said spouse, said spouse was wearing the largest face mask I have seen this side of Tatooine.  They have used tongs to hand things to people.  My onetime best friend isn’t quite as obsessive, but G-d forbid someone as pathetic as I seem to be should point out the inconsitency and ridiculousness of that choice.

Because, in this person’s opinion, I can’t ever possibly be right.

I’m been most recently advised to go around to McDonald’s and try and get a position there.  I’ve been to SEVEN.  These days, as it is with most restaurants, there is no hiring manager on site.  You scan a QR code, you file an application through a central office, you indicate where you are open to working, and you await a response.  I started this process nearly three years ago.  I’m still waiting for a response and, yes, I HAVE followed up.  Yes, I’ve done the same thing with six other restaurant chains in my area.  Most of them are cutting back on human hires, I’ve been told, turning more and more of their business toward self-service.

I would ask if my onetime best friend has actually set foot in a fast food restaurant at any point since March 2020, but I shudder to think of the anger that would be inflicted upon me if I dared to ask.

I’ve been accused of being overly defensive.  I’m sure there’s something to that.  I’m not perfect, not by a long shot.

But I also know what I’m actually experiencing, since I’m the one constant in this.  And to be so repeatedly denied the right to even defend my own truth?  By someone I once considered to be closer than my own family?

You tell me.  How would YOU feel?

And how would you feel that the mere thought of putting this person’s name in print actually frightens me?

Decades of blind trust.  Being there on the few occasions where actual need was there.

For this.

You bet I’m heartbroken.

So for those of you who found your way through a more upbeat post, bear in mind that sometimes the motivation for happiness is often a pain that is ceaseless and gets more so with every passing day.

Just like our friendship once was.