There are several job descriptions that would drive me out of my mind. I can’t possibly do anything that involves heavy lifting or heights since I’ve always been irremediably incapable of dealing with things like that. Perhaps if I were ever forced to pick one job that would be absolutely irrevocably forbidden to me, no matter what, it would have to be anything involving a telephone. Although I can understand that it’s always unavoidably mandatory to spend at least a little time on the phone over the course of any job, or any other circumstances whatsoever, if I were ever to get a job that required me to spend a significant amount of time anywhere near a phone, I should surely go entirely out of my mind. For as far back as I can remember I’ve never been able to stand anything about this most horrible of things. I can’t stand the sound of one when it’s ringing. I can’t stand to be anywhere near anyone who’s talking on one. Whenever I’m forced to talk on the phone I always cringe with extreme impatience and anxiety, hoping to get it over with as soon as possible. To have to spend forty hours each week of my life dealing with something like that would be pure and merciless torture.
Over the course of at least my entire adult lifetime I’ve always been notoriously incapable of getting any significant amount of sleep. I always tell people that I haven’t slept five minutes since the presidential debates between Kennedy and Nixon. This can be quite an advantage whenever I have either a job or some other unavoidably necessary responsibility to which I must attend. Being wide awake for its own sake though is much more of a have-to than a get-to. I don’t usually bother to peek out my windows in order to see the sun. Most of the time I just lie back and relax. It’s an especially good feeling being able to rest before the main part of the day has to kick in. A while ago, when I worked at the postal service in Bethpage, I usually worked the overnight shift. It was such an interesting feeling being able to drive home on the Southern State Parkway while the sun was coming up. All that peace and quiet, combined with quite a perfect view, made me quite happy. Occasionally I’ve been known to stay up voluntarily, for things like high school reunions, parties and other occasions. It’s not a habit I should like to get into though. When I don’t get enough rest there’s always the very serious risk of migraines. Ultimately I thoroughly enjoy always being up so early each day. Even though I don’t bother to pay attention to the rising sun, I can enjoy all the perfect solitude. Peace and quiet are unavoidably necessary for me. It’s the rest of the day that really gets on my nerves.
There’s a certain party, in my crowd, whom I’ve known for his entire lifetime. He’s around fifteen or sixteen years younger than I. When he was young he was absolutely rotten. He was a party animal, couldn’t care less about school or work, and was terribly dishonest too. Over the course of the past two decades, though, since he’s been married, and gotten a reputable job, he seems to have gotten quite a bit better. He now has three kids, in grammar school, to have to raise too. I haven’t ever gotten to know him all that well anyway so I can’t say what he does when I’m not around. So far, though, to the very best of my knowledge, he appears to have quite a vastly improved sense of responsibility, and no longer gives the impression of his constantly wanting to play people for complete fools. All I know is that these days the only horror stories I hear about him are history instead of current events. We’re never in touch in any significant way, anyway so I shall never have to be bothered with much of his rascally side even if it still exists to some degree.
Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve gotten lost several times, some more significantly than others. There was the infamous and legendary Fourth of July incident in the late 1980’s, all over a mountain full of blueberries. Then during the 1990’s there was a job interview in Glen Cove, New York. On my way home to Lindenhurst, I somehow managed to end up getting there by way of Queens. My last misadventure, though, was no big deal. Recently, somewhere over the course of the past few months, I was supposed to drive my niece Bridget to work, a whopping grand total of around three miles from here, on Lindell Street in Long Beach. After I got her there, I was just supposed to make a U turn, back onto Park Avenue and to come back over here. Somehow I managed to turn right instead of left. I ended up in the neighborhood where all the streets are named after presidents. Not having gotten to know the city anywhere near so well, back then, as I have since then, I got quite frustrated. I wasn’t overly nervous because I knew nothing extremely bad could possibly happen. I was simply intensely restless, though, because I couldn’t wait to get it all over with. Conveniently I spent much of the time on streets that were parallel to the one I was supposed to be on anyway. It was during the cold weather and at that time of the afternoon the sun goes down, leaving a lot of glare to have to contend with. That, combined with the traffic congestion, made it quite an annoying ordeal. I’m notoriously bad with new experiences and anything that’s beyond my control. Of course I ultimately knew that sooner or later it would inevitably end anyway. I just wish it could have been less harrowing. At least if I could have gotten lost on a main road, in a business district, I could have stopped someplace for a while. Those side streets are nasty and unforgiving though.
For many years I worked at Citicorp Retail Services, first on Route 109 in Farmingdale, New York, and then on Old Country Road in Melville, New York. I can honestly say that most people I met there were quite decent and likable, but there were a view notable exceptions. The last department I worked in, up until the time they closed down, was the customer service department. In general the people there were very good and easy to work with. There were a couple of characters, though, who made everyone miserable. One was a devious Puerto Rican guy named Elvys (Elvinko). The other was a mean little blonde named Gayle (Katie Pie). As far as I was concerned Elvinko and Katie Pie were the veritable bane of everyone’s existence. They were constantly gossiping and insulting people. They messed things up and then blamed others, and were quite determined to tell the supervisors and managers about the slightest of missteps from anyone they didn’t like, thereby ensuring that people got into quite a lot of entirely unnecessary trouble. Elvinko and Katie Pie, from the first instant they set foot onto the grounds of the company, provoked dissent among people there. They most certainly brought out the very worst in me. I really should have explained to the supervisors and managers, with proof, exactly how rotten they really were. I should have exposed their filthy disgusting mouths, the way they lied, gossiped and turned people against each other. Their anti social behavior was directed toward a significant enough number of people that it would have been very easy to get many victims of their abuse to back me up. If enough people would have spoken up against these monsters, we could have avoided quite a whole lot of trouble. Unfortunately, though, most people just dealt with them in entirely unofficial ways. The problem with my having to associate with someone of their ilk is that under those circumstances, I’ve always tended to fight fire with fire, because someone that irremediably rotten and self absorbed never even so much as thinks of listening to the voice of rightly ordered reason anyway.
Unfortunately I’m between jobs right now. My last two jobs were one with Citicorp Retail Services and one with the postal service in Melville and Bethpage. I could never stand the postal job because it was so physically hard and strenuous but at least it was something. The work was very boring and required a lot of heavy lifting. Many of the people there were hard to get along with but that’s a part of any job. My circumstances in Bethpage were especially difficult to handle because I was often forced to work the graveyard shift there. Most of the people in management were at least reasonably decent and easy to get along with. The only one who was a troublemaker was Marjorie, a surly black woman. There was a union there but I never got significantly involved with it. Of all the people I knew, Kevin and Anton were the most significant union officials. The one advantage to my having worked there was that I got a chance to meet a lot of very interesting characters. Before that I worke at Citicorp Retail Services in Farmingdale and Melville. In the first department I was in, Sales Processing, from the late 1980’s until the early 1990’s, everything worked out quite well and we all got along quite well. Sal, Carole and Yolanda were in charge. Most people there were quite decent and good natured, Besides the inevitable fighting and personality conflicts it was always quite a happy environment. Then after a while that department was eliminated. I got moved to Customer Service. That department was harder for me to handle because there were a lot more trouble makers there. There were still quite a few very good people too but there were entirely too many who were genuinely bad. For a while I was also a sacristan at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst. At that job I used to have to deal with a wide variety of diocesan priests, professed Religious and parishioners every day of the week. It was a nice part time job. I was required to get everything ready for the daily Masses and novenas, as well as weddings, funerals and other things that were required to keep things going at the parish. That was yet another environment where I was expected to deal with very many eccentric characters. having lived for most of my life in Lindenhurst I really knew my way around the parish and got along quite well with most of the people. I’ve never been a good salesman. In the 1980’s my eighth grade history teacher tried to get me involved with Amway. That’s a really good job for someone to have if he’s a capable salesman but I simply don’t have the aptitude for that kind of thing. That kind of job is very good for my teacher and his wife, who’ve always been better than I at dealing with people in that way. My cousin Gary tried to get me involved with Primerica Financial Services. Unfortunately even though we attended all the meetings and classes, and did well on the tests we were required to take, it didn’t work out for us. I consider it quite a worthwhile experience though. It’s always good to know as much as possible about insurance and the financial world.
I’ve always been subjected, especially since I’ve been an adult, to succumbing to a lot of anxiety when I’m under a significant amount of pressure. When I was very young I was quite prone to anxiety and panic attacks. In those days I always got violent migraines and a sick stomach when I was subjected to too much tension. My hands shook and my mouth got dry. Since then though I’ve learned how to handle things much more easily. Much of my trouble came from too much coffee. Anyone who’s been the victim of a food allergy knows that it can be quite a nightmare if not properly dealt with. Upon my having learned to accept the fact that caffeine was provoking all this trouble in my life, I started making sure I stayed away from coffee under circumstances that required my undivided attention and competence. Absent mindedness has always been quite a problem for me when I’m under pressure. My mind wanders and I forget important things. The best thing for me to do is to make sure I write down, in advance, anything that is absolutely required of me. I also always make sure I go to bed early each night and get up early each morning, especially when I have to be available for something important. Even now that most of my problems with anxiety have very much subsided I still tend to get restless and frustrated when I’m kept waiting for something. I’ve always been compulsively punctual to the point of showing up obscenely early for everything. Although punctuality is considered a valuable asset at any job, or for any task in general, most people get quite frustrated at my knack for showing up entirely too early. Things that ordinarily shouldn’t be very stressful, such as a long ride in a car or plane, or having to deal with strangers or new experiences, often drive me to inordinate kinds and degrees of frustration. I’ve been noticing, as time goes by, that I can do a much better job now of hiding most of the frustration and restlessness I feel when I’m put on the spot. Most of the time all I really have to do is simply to apply myself to the task at hand at any given time. The weird thing is that I’m never really afraid of the risk of any specific kind of failure. It’s just a case of my reacting inordinately unfavorably to the mere fact of my having to deal with something either new or important.