Archive | July 2021

Car Crash

Just keeping people up to date. Last Tuesday, I dropped my car off at the garage to get fixed. My parents were taking me home. My mom wrongly turned in front of oncoming traffic. We got hit. Oncoming car hit my door. I then slammed into the back of the passenger seat my dad was in. The airbags deployed. I got a disjointed finger and serious bruising in the shape of the seatbelt. Dad may have gotten a cracked rib. Ma was mostly rattled. The ER doc said, “I could fix that finger in 2.5 seconds.” I knew that would hurt and OMG it so did, but it is back in place, although a little swollen. Various parts of me are swollen right now.

But we all walked away from the accident. If Dad hadn’t been wearing his seatbelt, he would be dead. I am sure of it.

Right now I am focused on healing. I worked on Friday. My favorite manager forbade me from answering the call of “donation backup.” She was right to do so. Heavy lifting is beyond my capabilities now and I woke up Saturday super-sore anyhow.

I am taking lots of extra vitamins. I am focused on healing. Life seems to be about human error. I am not a happy camper.

Is This Growth?

Today, I thought I might be the mid-day cashier by default because no one else was scheduled as such. Nope. To my surprise, I was almost giddy with relief because I really wasn’t looking forward to it. I have been even the last two times and the previous time I was $.03 short, an amount I can live with. I suspected that the store manager was checking to see what my reaction would be. Would my feelings be hurt? I wonder what he thought of my borderline ecstasy.

When I was so visibly happy at not cashiering, the female manager said, “I get it. It’s not your favorite thing.” We joke that I brought this on myself because I was the one that insisted on cashiering. I told her that I was “over it” because I almost got held accountable for a manager’s error. I wonder what she thought of that.

I thought that maybe they would try not to have me cashiering after that incident. Nope. The last week in July has me scheduled to cashier every day I work. All. Four. Days. Their confidence level in me is clearly high, or perhaps they have no options whatsoever. Maybe the hiring of new cashiers is not going all that well. You can’t have “aces in their places” if you have to continuously shuffle the deck to just get the basics done.

I feel like I have nothing to prove anymore. I will do the best I can when cashiering, but I really no longer care if I am even or not. I am a better cashier than one of the managers. That says something. I almost feel like I “should” care. I wonder if I ever had anything to prove. I feel like this is major progress for me emotionally.

My cashiering is no longer about me; it’s about the store and what it needs. If the store needs me to cashier, I’m fine with that. That’s the nature of the employment beast: getting paid to do something useful. It feels good to be useful. But it’s not my issue anymore. If I have to cashier every day, that’s okay–not great, but alright. If I never cashier again, I’m good with that as well. I demanded the opportunity, got it, proved myself, and can put it on my resume forevermore. I think that might be all I ever wanted.

“Normal” Feelings?

I am now questioning the value of having “normal” responses to things. I both admire and have reservations regarding people I see as “normal.” I envy their appropriate responses while wondering if they can ever truly understand people as dysfunctional as myself–and there are a lot of us!

My store manager is a startlingly normal person. A good guy. I wish I knew more people like him. Not a narcissist. Not racist. Not out to get anyone. A happily married church-going man. When I told him I thought he was normal, he said, “I’ve never been called that before!”

This past week at the store was rough, to be kind about it. My favorite manager, the only woman, was on vacation until Friday. The back room was trashed. The compactor was full. We got several pallets of new goods, one of which was from Pier 1. There was no room for anything. The activity level was frenzied. People were getting fired or calling in sick, leaving more work for fewer people.

Thursday was just plain ugly. Most of the closers called in. The wares lady ended up being closing cashier, not her favorite thing to do, especially since she had come in early to help out. I did a lot of cashiering because the closing cashier had called in. Then it was time to count me down. The closing manager told me that I was $14.97 off. What? I assumed I was short. Nope. Over. How? I couldn’t think of any transactions that felt “off” at all. Nothing came to mind. I believe in learning from my mistakes, but nothing leapt to mind. But the day had been so nutty that I couldn’t say with certainty that, “No. I was perfect. Check your numbers again.” He said that I would probably have to be written up but that he did not have time to do so. He would have to leave a note for the store manager to do it in the morning. I stayed to help un-trash the place because it was the first time in months we had actually achieved the textile production quota and basically no one had taken care of it. The place looked like hell, so I stayed an extra half-hour so that the closers (the manager and the donation guy) wouldn’t have so much to do all by themselves. I was trying to behave as a grown-up.

Then I went home, distraught. I was going to get written up! I have never been written up! I called my psychoanalyst. She was reassuring but also confused because she knows I am a perfectionist. It was hard for her to believe that I was that much off. Was it multiple bad transactions? How could I possibly short one customer almost $15 without the customer throwing a hissy-fit? She walked me back from the edge, telling me that, even if I got wrote up, so what? They weren’t going to fire me. Then, while talking to her, my phone rang. It was the store. I told my shrink I would call her right back. It was the closing manager. The managers have a register (which they and sometimes another cashier will use, such as the wares lady on Thursday). That till came back $15 short! Then he remembered: the receipt tape had run out on register 3 (his) and so he redirected the receipt to my drawer (4). It popped my drawer open and, for some reason incomprehensible to me, he must have put the money from that transaction into my drawer, making both off. I was not $14.97 over; I was $.03 short! Definitely not write-uppable! Within normal human error. I was so relieved that I told him he just made my evening. I wasn’t even mad. It was a crazy day and I was just glad not to have had disciplinary action taken against me. I called my shrink back and we reviewed the real lesson to be learned: I need to be kinder to myself and, oh yeah, don’t take a count for granted until all the pennies are counted up at the end of the day.

The next morning, Friday, I told the store manager how relieved I was not to have to be written up. Later that day, my favorite manager closed. I told her all about the incident when she was counting me down at the end of the day (I came out even Friday) and how the only reason I didn’t get written up was that the closer from the previous day simply did not have the time. When I told her how much I was off, she made a weird face. I said, “That was my reaction!” She also puzzled how I could short a customer that much and no one had complained. Hard to fathom. And, of course, she echoed my shrink’s assertion that being written up would not have been the end of the world. Then, being both twistedly funny and authoritarian, she said, “I would have made time to write you up!” Gee, thanks. And she said something I will never forget: “I got you.”

During the day, while the store manager was there, I asked him if there had been any interviews for floor people. He said that that was not a priority. The priorities are donations on the intake end and cashiers on the outgoing end. Everything else can be shuffled around. When I told him that I felt like I am an adequate cashier but I basically own the floor, he said the other floor girl, Abby, could give me a run for my money. Abby’s great. Don’t get me wrong. What became clear to me was that he was not aware that Abby has been looking for another job. It is not my place to tell him, but I did not think it was a secret.

And she will find one. I thought she had found one in May, but obviously that fell through. And he told me he thought I was a good cashier. I somehow felt affirmed and de-valued at the same time. (Is that how normal people feel?) Like the floor really doesn’t matter all that much to him. Oh, but it will, as production ramps up and I am trapped behind a register and the place looks like crap. He said he could take production workers and have them put away textiles and tidy the place up. True, but that only makes my point, that now he is lowering production (which just made quota for the first time in months) to keep the floor looking decent. And no one has told him about Abby. I seriously doubt she will be there come September. I think her degree is in something children-oriented. It is July. The rules do not apply right now. Someone will snatch her up before fall.

I stayed an extra half-hour for my favorite manager. As I left the building, the closing manager from the previous day was walking up to the building. And he did not look happy. It was not his day to work and he clearly would have preferred not to be there. I drove home and thanked goodness the week was over.

Was he there because of me? Perhaps. I have no way of knowing. Did he think I was going to keep almost being written up to myself? He can’t be fired because he gave notice earlier in the week that he found another job that starts in August and pays a whole lot more.

Should I be more upset with the manager that messed up my till? I feel like it was a normal human error. I don’t feel any anger and I wonder about my lack of emotional reaction. Part of having CPTSD is not having normal red flags regarding situations that are unsafe. Sometimes anger is a normal human emotion. And it didn’t even occur to me that I should have felt it for twenty-four hours.

And then there is the store manager that I feel now might actually be too normal. Goodwill scrapes the bottom of the human resource barrel. Everyone comes into it with “issues,” to put it mildly. And then you have people, like me, that have way too much education for the jobs they are doing, which demands an explanation, to put it as politically correctly as I can. “Why exactly are you (ridiculously overqualified applicant like myself) applying for this position?” I know what my issues are now and were the day I got hired. Barry had only passed eight months earlier, making me an emotional mess. I had this huge gap on my resume from getting my MBA to even looking for work (because he extremely out-lived all expectations). I have been using this non-intellectual job to heal myself and use my emotional and intellectual energy to go into psychoanalysis and once-and-for-all deal with my crippling shame. I think the store manager does not hear how his statements may be heard by others. He hasn’t had to deal with CPTSD. He is a normal human, sufficiently loved as an infant. It’s hard to fault him for that.

And yet….when a company such as Goodwill is looking to fill positions, it needs to understand that it is scraping the bottom of the labor pool. These people will have “issues.”

I feel like I have made a lot of progress. But it has been a hard and ongoing process. And this week was rough.

Dysregulation Writ Large

I am, as everyone knows, a fan of the “Crappy Childhood Fairy.” She talks about brain dysregulation and shows you how to re-regulate yourself. It is work.

I spend all day at work reminding myself to breathe from the abdomen and meditate on breaks because my emotions are so close to the surface. If things do not go well, I want to break down and cry. I feel like I am doing a lot of healing. I am much more functional now than I was a year ago, thanks to the Fairy, Pete Walker, and my psychoanalyst.

But the pandemic screwed up many things. My friend on the east coast, in my opinion, has gone over the edge. She is homeless and drinking a little. I am genuinely concerned for her safety. But here’s the problem: I don’t think I am really the one that can stop her freefall. I am too close to the edge myself. I am unwilling to go over with her. I cannot risk my mental health for someone who defends drinking and does not take basic safety precautions. She has spent over a year isolated, with only canines to keep her company. Her concept of normal is gone. I fear she is not alone.

I have been reading this book “Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It” by Gabor Mate. It turns out ADD is a huge risk factor for addiction. My friend is ADD as hell. For her to drink is to play with fire. I can’t watch this. I am looking for helpful tips, but it is not as if it has a chapter called “What to Do When Your ADD Friend Is Isolated, Potentially Homeless, and Drinking.” The book, not surprisingly, is aimed at parents of ADD children. It is full of common sense, but the gist is simple: parents need to learn how to regulate their own emotions so that that they can regulate the behavior of their ADD children. Parents on the edge are not great role models for kids that have a tendency to bounce off the walls. Kids learn maturity from emotionally mature parents or they don’t learn it at all.

I need to get myself in order. If I am not emotionally stable, I cannot help others. At this point, I am just trying to take responsibility for myself and that is a full-time job.