Thursday, March 4, 2010

"A Memorable Turning Point"

This story may sound like nothing to you. But to me, it was something. A big something. So big, in fact, that it took me 536 posts to finally let it out. I don’t really want to write about it now. But if I don’t, it will irritate me until I do. Thoughts are funny that way.

It happened about five years ago. Now, closer to six. I’m standing outside a supermarket-sized stationery store, about to go in. I stop, and ponder the moment. Wrong. I didn’t stop. The moment made me stop. And, while stopped, I pondered.

The moment was right to make me stop. I was at a turning point. It needed to be appropriately marked.

After thirty years of regular employment, I was no longer working for money. Apparently, show business had a meeting and decided I was done. Nobody wanted me. It was time for me to go.

Hey, it’s their business. They can do whatever they want. And they wanted me unpaid and at home.

I was labeled “out of sync with the marketplace.” Show business doesn’t pay people who are “out of sync with the marketplace.” Or provide them with an office. And a secretary. And their own personal parking space. And unlimited “long distance.” And free lunches at the commissary.

Or this thing.

“This thing” was always part of the arrangement. Not the most valuable part, or even close, but it was automatic. There was always unlimited this. You could use it in the office, you could take it home. Nobody cared. You did studio work at home, you needed “this.” They said “Take as much as you want.” Or at least that was implied.

Now, all that was finished. No more studio “perks.” No more “this.” The arrangement was over. The “this” deal was gone.

Endings are hard. Beginnings? Remember the first day of school? Beginnings are like that. First page of your notebook, you write really neat. It’s a fresh start. You’re hopeful. There’ll be neat writing forever.

Endings mean change. People hate change. Even when it’s for the better. Look at the resistance to health care reform. “You don’t want affordable health care?” “We’ll stick with what we have.” “You ‘have’ terrible health care.” “It’s what we’re used to.”

I had no choice in the matter. The change was externally imposed. I was hurt. I felt lost and alone, adrift on a sea of uncertainty and regret.

Was it my fault? Had I done something wrong? “No. A change in fashion. It’s nothing personal. Leave your key on the desk.”

And now I was here, standing in front of a stationery store, starting a new chapter in my life. Oh, well. Onward and upward.

I took a deep breath, and went inside.

I bought three reams of copy paper for my printer.

I walked up to the cashier,

And for the first time in thirty years…

I had to pay for the paper myself.

The one sign of hope?

I bought three reams of paper.

I guess I thought I still had something to write.

(Author’s Note: To those who wanted to do what I did but it didn’t work out? I’m sorry if this sounds petty. Believe me, it was really big at the time.)


Corinne said...

I completely understood and related to your post.

Sometimes it isn't the "big, in-your-face things" that come with change as much as the "little, just-has always-been" things that affect us the most and have the most significant impact.

Anonymous said...

My father told me that it's human nature to mark big moments of change, whether good or bad with ceremonies. This, apparently, was your ceremonial Purchasing of the Paper. A ceremony doesn't have to come with a great deal of pomp and circumstance. Sometimes it's as simple as opening and closing a book.

A. Buck Short on paperclips said...

This is why we should all stock up on office supplies FIRST. Have we learned nothing?

Anonymous said...

Earl, your blog is (usually)commendably free of politics, but we don't have "terrible health care" now and passing a 2000+ page bill is not going to make health care "affordable." We'll be paying for it one way or another with higher taxes, higher premiums, less innovation, fewer doctors, Medicare cuts, rationing, you name it. Thus the resistance. Congress can no more make health care affordable by passing a law than it can make Rolls-Royces affordable. That the premier of Newfoundland chose to have his heart surgery in Florida instead of under the great "free" Canadian system kind of says it all. Or at least a lot.

YEKIMI said...

I've been out of work since August. Third time I've been unemployed. I never made big TV bucks for writing. Nobody wants to hire a diabetic in their 50s. Even though it's illegal for them to do so they don't care. I've been told flat out to my face they won't hire me because of that. I'm on 10 different meds for all sorts of medical problems. No medical insurance anymore, one med alone even with a discount cost $300 a month. Doctor's in my area are now charging a "facility fee" on top of their office fee [$1,200 one doc is charging for a facility fee average is $400]. Bring on government health care!