If you base your self worth on transitory elements of your being, such as physique, all you are doing is setting a timer for a bomb to go off at some later date in your life. It's truly stupid. Don't sell the future to enrich the present; enrich the present to enrich the future.
I worked for this woman, Theresa, who was likely a real knockout in her hey-day, but that was gone by a decade or two by the time that I met her. She had long, well-groomed, salt and pepper hair, a face that tried very hard to appear childlike amid the angry wrinkles that covered it, and a figure that was still in somewhat good shape--apparent that a rigorous exercise regimen had been kept up.
A good body, but it was falling faster than she could keep up. This happens to everybody and ultimately should be understood and handled as part of nature--the body has its time, and thanks to modern medicine, we often outlive it. It's just part of the deal we get handed with life. One could tell that Theresa had not handled this transformation well at all.
See, she had a manipulator's personality--like she was the kind of woman who'd trade sexual favors for goods or services from whomever she was currently with.
Like she was the kind of woman who'd flirt specifically to get drinks bought for her. Like at one time she was the kind of beautiful that made men hand over easy lives to her.
She wasn't that kind of beautiful any longer.
THAT kind of beautiful only has a very small window of appearance in anyone's life and one could see in everything she did that its fading had twisted her. It was like she was a woman of power who was watching it being stolen from her every moment longer that she lived. She would alternate between strange, syrupy-sweet ditz speak, and stern, hard, angry, bitch talk with very little margin between, as if she had only two modes of getting what she wanted: coercion or demands. I almost pitied her, that she lived with so many illusions as to the nature of power, the nature of beauty...
I say "almost" because she was the kind of employer who would call an employee "worthless and stupid" at the top of her voice in front of customers. She would give the cold shoulder to women who were more beautiful than her. Not to tout my own tribe or anything, but I have a lot of beautiful female friends, and there was a near identical reaction that they would receive from Theresa: snappy, unfriendly, unwelcome slow service coupled with glares. She made co-workers of mine cry! She fucked over people with such a natural ease that it was apparent that, to her, there was NO ONE in the world but herself and everyone else was simply a means to an end.
I was hired on as a barrista and worked well there for a few weeks. Her boyfriend Dave asked me to fill in a dishwashing shift a couple of times, "until we find someone." Now Dave was a late 40's hippie guy who, by my estimation, must've gone to the Sierras and done SO MANY HALLUCINIGENICS that he totally skewed himself. A slow... thoughtful... contemplative... sort of... guy... I will hand it to him though--he knew coffee freakishly well.
So I fill a few of those shifts washing dishes as a favor to him because, well, I was a dishwasher for a spell and I really have no desire to return to it ever again unless I absolutely have to. I'd wash dishes before I'd telemarket though...
Anyway, obviously ignorant of the back kitchen area, I have to keep asking Theresa where things go. Unlike most kitchens where things are sorted by item type into location--like all the cups go with the cups--she had it sorted by some obscure prioritizing of the dishes by a system that, as best as I could tell, was based on a balancing of her sentimental attachment to the dish and its actual financial value.
So my inability to completely grasp her system prompted her to ask me something like, "Do you have some problem that you can't remember where these things go?!"
By this point she'd had been getting progressively snippier, so this cracked meand I turned to her and said:
"NO, THERESA, I have NO PROBLEM, it's YOU and YOUR NEUROTIC CRAP that's the problem here!"
From that point on, whenever she would talk to someone about me, she'd refer to me as a chauvinist. Go figure. I liked Dave well enough, and I really love being a barrista so her cold stares were tolerable. They tried to pin me in as a permanent dishwasher and I evaded, sacrificing a couple of shifts a week.
Still, you can't let employers try and pull that kind of crap on you or else they'll make it a habit. Even despite that, I liked working at the place until one day when I overheard a conversation Theresa and Dave had about a cook by the name of Bill.
Quick, let me fill you in on Bill: he was a tall broad man with a full brown moustache that covered his entire upper lip and he spoke with a clear, direct yet deeply happy voice. He'd opened the place with Dave and Theresa, helped them to establish their menu and was a good worker. His true love in life, however, was flying. He loved to fly and would talk about it with such gusto that I would smile on behalf of HIS joy for it. Every weekend he would take out a plane and hit the clouds.
Dave and Theresa's conversation went like this:
"Well DAVID? We need another cook in here, someone who can work weekends, BILL CAN'T work weekends--we CAN'T just hire someone to work weekends!" her tone was shrill even though hushed.
"We could... fire him."
"No! Then we'd have to pay him unemployment!"
Okay, call me naive, but that concept right there outright made my shoulders hunch and fingers curl. Bastards! It went on.
"I know!" She said in a 'eureka' kind of inflection, "We can drop him down to one shift per week and then he'll have to quit!"
Right there I felt such repulsion that my stomach rolled over and my upper lip began to twitch. This guy had given them true loyalty, his creativity, his love and they were planning how to unexpectedly make him unable to survive and thus force him to leave, all to escape the payment of a small stipend until he found work elsewhere. Hate. Hate is something that I really rarely feel. There is a vast number of things that make me feel annoyed, distressed or even frightened. There is little that brings the flush of hot blood to the surface of my skin with that single focal point of excruciating contempt. I felt that on this occasion for a few seconds, after which I knew that it was over here.
I started slacking like an idiot--I'd miswrite orders to slow down the whole process. I poured honey down the seams between the counter and the cabinets. I was subtly doing my best to fuck with their business as they paid me to do so.
I really considered her to be the lowest form of person I had ever met. Eventually I was cut to one shift per week. Bill had long quit by that point, and I knew my time here was short.
I started inviting my friends in and made this arrangement with them: they order food and coffee, hand me a one dollar bill, I ring up the order and give them change as if they had given me a twenty. I figured it was at least some recompense for her taking a cut of the employee's tips.
I also figured that she really wasn't the kind of woman who was all too good with numbers, and that the chances of Dave doing the math were unlikely. I was correct. Oh, they began to suspect me all right. One time I did it with her standing right directly behind me. I suppose she was trying to see if I was pocketing money or mis-ringing orders.
She continued to prove herself more and more contemptible as time went on and drove me to, at one point, contemplate arson. However, instead—and to my credit--I opted to embezzle for the gain of my tribe, which made me realize that there is really little that gives me more pleasure than fucking over someone evil so that someone good benefits. I see it as justice in the highest form. And speaking of forms, I'm sure Theresa's continues to seek low ground, which is natural.
I only hope that one day she sees that real beauty is in the soul so that perhaps she will know how ugly she has always been. It would be the first step toward changing it.
REVSCRJ is a writer/musician living in Monterey, California. Constantly on the verge of homelessness, he hopes that you enjoy his work or else his life has been in vain. Contact REVSCRJ at email@example.com to lodge complaints, notify of lawsuits, or receive spiritual advice.
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