Book of Jobs
The tap, tap, tapping, of the raindrops off the roof of the cabin was strangely rhythmic, but that just could be the half tab of acid. It’s mostly out of my system; the mountains still seem to wiggle a bit when I look at them but that could just mean i need to put on my glasses — the doctor gave me them for distance. I do need them, I remember, and I walk back indoors.
There’s a loose collection of friends of mine from college inside; this is a yearly trip for us. One of them is reading “Howl”, by Ginsberg, loudly. I don’t know if I’m the intended target. If that is the case, it’s funny, but still a little shitty only because the poem is (objectively speaking) fucking terrible. The issue, by the by, is definitely the acid, because the glasses did nothing when I grabbed them from my bedroom.
I walk back out to the porch because it’s the only place up here that doesn’t have cell reception. I know that I have a call coming sometime in the next hour, and if it goes straight to voicemail, it is no longer my concern. If my boss realizes that I just sent the call to voicemail after it rings, I will be in trouble. I earnestly, and I mean this in my heart of hearts, am more bothered by the prospect of her yelling at me tomorrow than I am losing my shitty temp job at a third-rate non-profit that, bluntly, might not even give any money to charity. I have almost enough cash in the bank from my last real job — the one I quit to work on the GRE and Grad school applications, before I did the applications and got in to somewhere I wanted and then realized that now I had to pay my loans for another eight months before I can even think of ending a lease early and moving to another state I had never even flown over or been within 500 miles of — to hold me over while I find a new temp agency to place me at another shitty secretary job with another useless corporation or charity that onl yexists because it hasn’t gone out of business.
This is a good cabin we rented; It has a rocking chair on the porch that I moved to the spot without reception. I sat in it with my glasses on, listening to the tap, tap, tapping of the rain, and then I realized that I had fallen asleep after I woke up two hours later. I walked back inside and one of my friends was making us burgers: a voicemail loaded on my phone while I was eating mine. My boss was bothered that my phone was off or that I didn’t pick up, and she wanted to know if I could come in tomorrow even though it was a federal holiday. I turned off my phone and ate my burger. I didn’t respond by the end of the day, and the next morning I woke up to a call telling me I was fired.
I was sober then, and the news was much more distressing that I had initially expected because I can’t do math well when I’m fucked up and I guess I didn’t realize I would need to choose between electric, rent, and my student loans unless I found a new placement quick. I sat in the cabin’s shower and took a long soak, mostly for introspective purposes, and walked outside to look at the mountains. There was no acid in my system but between the rain and the fact that I forgot my glasses again they still seemed to be moving.
I hate the job hunt because it reminds me of my grandfather. My memories of my grandfather are frustrating because they aren’t of the capacity I knew him in: the man I met was always tired, watched too much football, slept in late, went to bed early, mumbled angrily to himself, and eventually passed away in a side room of our house that he inhabited after the doctors told us it wouldn’t matter if he was in the hospital anymore. The man I remember was much younger, and almost always there, he was close to it.
I know this man from the stories my father told after my grandfather passed; I don’t know if my dad didn’t tell the stories when his father was living because I was too young to understand, or because they were too embarrassing to pass around while their subject walked the earth.
My grandfather was a hunter, or a prospector, or a seeker, depending on how he would describe himself on the day that you first met him. His life was a rambling cross-country quest for the big break, and he always told people he was almost there —he just about has it,with this one. It was always practically in is hands. There was always a profit he could make: he once begged in Brooklyn for two days to get enough money to drop into a stock that lost almost all of it’s value within three months, but for those three months, he would tell everyone that he was this close to buying Fire Island for himself because this was it. The money was around the corner, and he was walking to the corner as he spoke to whoever asked or whoever would listen.
The company flopped: it was making some sort of metal product for siding houses that never caught on.
Years later, it was vacuums: he sold them door to door.
Every household needed one, he thought, so this was how he would make it big.
It was the same speech to my grandmother each night: they’d have an estate in the countryside, and a chateau in the mountains for when they wanted to get away from the country estate they used to get away from their mansion on the Upper West Side. He made very little money in that job; my mother earned more as a secretary until she had to quit when she got pregnant with my father. The job wouldn’t support a family, so he took a loan to start a hardware store in Long Island: he used it to stock every oddity and end which could be the thing this year — trinkets, gadgets, whatever, that when they took off would sell like hotcakes, and make him richer than rich.
The investment was always steep but it would be all worth it when they were sending his son to a boarding school in the shadows of Princeton, learning with the sons of the Rockefellers. My father went to public school but it was just because he was almost there — almost — but he never was. The hardware store was eventually sold to send my father to college: my dad became a teacher, met my mother through a friend of a friend who knew they both liked red wines, and settled down in a house my retired grandfather eventually lived in after his divorce.
Looking for jobs, I feel the pull my grandfather had: this cover letter — this is it, this is the one: it’ll bring me there — or this resume — it’s basically already paying rent for the next month — is always the solution to the problem, the way out, and I get caught up in this: I believe. I get this sincerity, this pulling belief that the thing I am doing and looking at is a way out of being jobless, of sitting on a couch, of trying not to fall too far deep into the bottle or disappear into a videogame because my god I have nothing left to do aside from refresh the same seven job boards and wait until I get on the plane to a school I have never been to.
My father thinks his father was a grifter. My grandfather’s wife thought that too, and that’s why my grandmother left him — she called him a grifter when she kicked him out, and she all but screamed it to the world when she served him divorce papers in the parking lot of the motel 6 he was staying with the last of the money from the sold hardware store. My dad let him live in our house because the old man had nowhere to stay after he drank his way out of the only honest job he ever had (he worked the production line in a plant that made construction equipment once everything was finalized with the divorce). Grandpa wasn’t in the army long enough to get any long term benefits that would have kept him afloat; he turned 18 after WWII ended and got out before Korea.
There was only one place left for him. The sole rule of living in the house was that the old man had to stay sober. He did. He kept to himself, watched tv, read the paper, and died of cancer. My father cried much more than I did when the disease ran its course and my grandfather shut his eyes for the last time. Even knowing that my father disliked his, I understand where the tears came from.
There are hopes we all get; they come to us when we’re at our lowest, when we need a way out, and they become a part of us when we do not want to be where we are. These just became most of what my grandfather was, and when there was nothing left, when there was no more time to find the hopes and no reason to hold on to them, he drank. These are the same hopes that are pulling me with each resume, which each email, with each application; they pull, and they flow into my head, and I feel them just like he did. I hate being unemployed. I don’t need to give any further reason.