Monday, August 23, 2010

Jesus Says We're All Sinners. Who Am I to Argue?

I like to believe that I'm not a total scumbag, a liar, a thief or that I would fuck somebody else's wife, for example or even more bad stuff than that. I like to believe this because I'm judgemental and often look down upon others that do that kind of stuff. Unfortunately, a close look at my life, sober and in the clear light of day, quickly reveals that  I've done just about every bad thing a person can do. What's even worse, like most other people, I did almost all the really bad things to friends. Well, at least they were friends until I did the bad things to them. A lot of times they were still my friend after. They usually had their own shortcomings to bear. No body's perfect, right?

Did you ever deal drugs? Most people will say no but think about it for a minute. Maybe somebody needed a little grass or a pill or two and you let them have what they needed out of your own stash and of course they covered your costs. Maybe even a little more.

I knew a guy in high school that could deal more than the usual kiddie weight if he liked you well enough. Every once in a while a friend and I would buy a key of weed from him, if it was OK stuff and split it. It cost $80, $40 apiece. After a little cleaning, bagging and sampling, my share would come out to maybe 15 lids that I could sell for $10 each. Being who I was, I knew a lot of geeks and nerds who didn't always have a good source for marijuana, they were glad to get it, even if it was sometimes a little light. It was better than the even worse skank weed they usually had access to. I ended up with a hundred bucks for the college fund, forty toward the next kilo and an ounce for myself in the interim. I was still working pretty much full time at my crappy high schooler job, so I wasn't a real pusher, right? That's what I kept telling myself.

One of the worst sins you could commit in the old days didn't involve breaking the law or the ten commandments, it was being a narc. I had a friend that ever since he was a little kid, wanted to be an FBI agent. Somehow, somewhere along the way, he convinced himself that turning in a drug dealer would help him in the pursuit of this goal. He set up and turned in another guy I knew who, in truth, was not much more of a dealer than I was. My friend would have been smarter to set me up. I didn't have that much status in the local kid community. The guy he turned in did. He had been a varsity football player, was very popular with at least some of the ladies and a very sharp dresser. After the act, the narc ended up being considered a small time punk snitch by local law enforcement and a dead man walking by the kid culture. Total outcast. I'm pretty sure it ruined his life. Who the fuck can really say. Maybe he was just a pussy to start with. He never went to college, married into the Jehovah's Witnesses and ended up selling Amway products for a living. The guy he turned in ended up having a pretty bad life but not as bad as that.

A decade later, I was working at a large wholesale lumber yard, trying to learn the business and work my way up. I had been through a lot of slots there in a short time, out in the yard, dispatch, shipping and receiving, buying, inside sales and when housing starts and sales slumped, back to the yard.  It was a lot of hours, 50 to 60 of them most weeks. Some days I thought I was doing OK, some not. I was paying the bills and putting quite a bit away. It was 1980, a lot of guys weren't working at all.

About that time, a guy from my high school class shows up working there. He had some kind of connection to get the job, everybody did to get on there. He must have had a good one though 'cuz things were slow and they weren't doing much hiring, plus lots of guys who had been laid off would have been happy to get back on. Guy was pretty messed up. Came in late, loads he built were crappy, it involved me since I was the yard checker at that time and responsible to see that the customers got what they paid for.

You got to remember that this was one of the boom times in modern American history for substance abuse among the general population. There may have been segments of the working economy that maintained some working hours decorum about it but the lumber industry was not one of them. A lot of guys there, especially the younger ones drank alcoholically and used other substances as well, including me. Weed smokers, coke heads and  speed freaks abounded. As long as anybody showed up and did the work, they weren't going to get any grief.

So, at some point, the yard superintendent asked me what this guy's problem was. I said I didn't know. I hadn't seen him since high school but he had a reputation for hitting it pretty hard then and it seemed to me, given the quality of his work, he still might be. I never thought anything about saying that. The poor guy didn't work there much longer and there were witnesses to what I had said to the sup. That's how I got a rep for being a narc. I really couldn't say it wasn't true, could I? That's pretty hard to live with at a rough and tumble lumberyard.

Turns out I didn't work there very much longer either. There have only been two jobs I was ever fired from and that was one of them. Nobody likes a narc, it turns out.

Way of the World, I guess.

I can't say I'm not one to judge another person's faults. It's one of my many faults. So, if you ever hear me running somebody else down, just disregard it, chances are I'm only seeing a reflection of myself in another.

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