There have been several weeks over the course of this project that I have wanted to call it quits just because I got tired of it. I soldiered on through those low points. This was the first week I almost blew it for any reason other than indolence. This week life at the Jesus Crack House hit the skids.
The Chef lost his job on Wednesday. After giving 19 years of service to an unnamed mega-corporation they cut him loose while he was on vacation. He was one year from retirement. And these weren’t just any 19 years. These were 19 years on the night shift. In these last few years he was putting in over 70 hours a week. He worked every holiday weekend for the past two decades. No disciplinary actions. No counseling. No documentation of any problems; never so much as a warning. When they sent him packing they couldn’t even look him in the eye.
Big corporations and municipalities are notorious for this; sucking the best years of life out of employees and then giving them the ax just before their well-earned retirements. After 19 years it’s not just the retirement that makes someone expensive to employ. There are all of the other the benefits, any premium or contribution that the employer matches, the bonuses earned, the extra vacation time earned, and the fact that a younger employee with less experience can be paid less as a replacement. It’s a dirty way to treat people who try to stay on the job for 20 years and you can bet it doesn’t engender loyalty among the staff left behind. Every man who worked for The Chef now knows the same will happen to him at some point.
Aside from the initial shock it felt a unseemly to carry on with this project right away. On Wednesday they dumped him. On Thursday we would have celebrated our anniversary but who feels like celebrating after such a betrayal? It certainly didn’t feel appropriate to take self-portraits. But we spent Wednesday and Thursday getting our feet back underneath us and it’s Friday now. We’ve absorbed the shock. We’ve slept on it. We’ve mustered our courage. We’ve shifted into the next gear.
I felt that if I could pull this together and get it posted today I wouldn’t have to throw out ten months of work with the baby’s bathwater. If I let this go another week it would feel too formidable in light of all the other adjustments we’ve got to make, so it was now or never. Self-care practices are likely going to become even more important now that every aspect of our lifestyle is going to change. And they say routines and rituals are comforting when humans are reeling from great loss or great upheaval. So despite my somber face I made a strong effort to bang out my overdue Tinas and feel some satisfaction. That feels daring right now–satisfaction.
But there are upsides to be examined. He’s finally off the night shift. He’s rested and relatively cheerful when he would normally be exhausted and grumpy. He’s already repaired the lawnmower, done four loads of laundry, and baked me a sassy little souffle to go with our frugal little anniversary dinner. He’ll finally be home for Thanksgiving. And Christmas. And the New Year. I don’t have to sleep alone anymore. I don’t have to run alone anymore. A full-time spouse and a real marriage; all these years I’ve learned to be content without and now *poof* here it is. I went from home alone to Primary Breadwinner in the space of an afternoon, and now I’ve got a House Husband too.
(Not that I expect that last part to last very long, but still…)
–Nappy Ear Varnishy