Going Postal: Day 23

back-to-school.jpgDay 23: Just Another Brick in the Wall

After getting the day off for Christmas—in which I slept most of the day—it was back into action yesterday. Now it is tomorrow, which may seem a bit confusing to some people. It’s like this, when I left for work it was yesterday (Wednesday), but by the time I got off it was tomorrow (Thursday). Some people say you get used to it—starting work on one day, finishing the next day, and then going back to work the same day you finished—but after five weeks I can say that I have not gotten used to it, nor do I think I will any time soon. Some people also said that this week would be much easier than the past weeks, because the holiday rush was over. Those people were dirty fucking liars. The only thing that is easier is the days are now shorter—I’ve been sent home after only working eight hours on two occasions. That, my friends, is what we call a Christmas miracle. And miracles, are the way things ought to be.

So, I was thinking about Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock’s documentary about the month he spent eating nothing but food from McDonalds. There is a point in the movie where he becomes incredibly ill from all the food he’s been eating, and everyone around him encourages him to stop, because they fear for his life. What the film does not reveal, but what Spurlock told me when I interviewed him, was that after the initial sickness, he started feeling better as his body began to adjust to the bad food he was putting in to it. He was still eating poorly, and ultimately he was still wrecking his health and destroying his body, but his body was still able to adapt, because that’s what the body does.

This is what I was thinking about at work—how the body adjusts to even the most adverse circumstances. And I was thinking that because this last shift was probably the most bearable of 23 days in action. The pain was there, but it has become part of the routine, and therefore I don’t seem to notice it as often. And the mind-numbing, soul-sucking duties that I perform (which, if you recall, could be done by a well-trained gorilla) no longer seem as abhorrent to the very core of my being. In other words, I’m getting used to this shit—sliding down the slippery slope of complacency that leads to a wasted lifetime of unfulfilled potential. At some point I saw myself, growing old working at the post office, until finally I died, and on my tombstone it read, “Here lays David Walker. His dreams died long before he did.”

Most of my shift was spent loading the belt, and the guy working next to me was another temp worker, but this was his first time over in my section. No one had bothered to train him—some supervisor just threw him into the mix; which left me to answer all of his questions. It was no big deal, as it didn’t bother me that he had questions. But what was a big deal was how many answers I had for him, and how after all these weeks, I have actually found my groove, and know how things work. All and all, I’m just another brick in the wall. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). This realization propelled me even further into an abyss of depression.

The guy working the belt next to me was an ex-Marine who has gone back to school to get his degree. He’s a few years older than me, which puts him in his 40s, and we talked about what it was like for him to be back in school, and to be pursuing an education when so many people in his past told him that was something he would never be able to do. I could relate.

I think about going back to school from time to time—usually when I’m in panic mode because nothing else in my life seems to be working out. What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I never finished college. I dropped out with enough credits to be considered a junior, but that was almost twenty years ago. (You have no idea how much it pains me to ever say, “that was almost twenty years ago,” and still be referring to something that happened in my adult life.) From what everyone has told me, those credits are no longer valid; so if I were to return to school, it would be as a freshman. This has been one of the main reasons I have not seriously looked at going back to college. I have worked as a professional writer for over ten years, spent seven years as an editor at a newspaper, published my own magazine, taught at the high school level and lectured at the college level. At the risk of sounding like a pompous dick, I have enough experience to teach at an undergraduate level, and in some areas at a graduate level. So, going back to college as a freshman is not an option. I’ve told people that I would consider a school that would let me challenge a minimum of three years of undergraduate study, but anything less would be ridiculous. I know myself well enough to know that I would be copping a serious attitude if I was stuck in a class that I was capable of teaching. And when I cop an attitude, things get ugly.

My other problem with returning to school is that I’m scarred shitless of the prospect. I was never a very good student. It wasn’t that I was stupid or anything like that; I was just always bored and uninspired—even in college. As a result, I never really applied myself, and instead I did what I wanted to do. In grade school I would get in trouble because I would turn in book reports on comic books. My teachers would get mad, because they didn’t consider that reading; but even at eight years old, I was like, “Hey, the motherfuckin’ comic book has words, and I read the words, same as if they were in a regular book.” In high school it seemed like we were just learning the same crap we had been taught in grade school, and I wanted to learn new things, not the same old shit about the pilgrims or my times tables. And college…well…that was just like high school, only you could swear in class and no one called your parents if you showed up drunk or stoned.

Don’t get me wrong, there were classes I enjoyed, and I definitely learned things in school, but I seldom got good grades, and I never wanted to be there. My reputation in school is so bad, that whenever I mention returning, most people look at me with an expression that says, “What the fuck?”

To be perfectly honest, not finishing college and not getting a degree—bullshit status symbol though it may be—is something that really eats away at me. And as I struggle to look for work, and wrestle with a dreaded fate of lugging mail for the next twenty years, I keep thinking more and more about going back to school. But of all the things that the Demon castigates me for, filling me with self-doubt and unprecedented insecurity, it is returning to college. Perhaps it is because there are so many rules to play by, and I have gotten pretty far by playing by my own rules. (Of course, playing by own rules has led me to working at the post office, so maybe that hasn’t been the best game plan.) Still, I became a newspaper editor and an award-winning journalist without ever taking a single journalism class in college. In fact, I only took one term of creative writing in college, but somehow managed to make a living as a writer for close to ten years.

So why go back to school? Well, that’s certainly the question of the night (or rather, the question of the morning). Maybe the reason I should go back to school is because it is one of the things that scares me most. Another reason is because there are hot chicks in college and I can buy them beer.

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One Response to “Going Postal: Day 23”

  1. mikimonster Says:

    You know what I find funny. I no longer find classmates hot, I find teachers hot. I tend to have one every semester now that I lust after in some way or another. It’s fun to watch Chris’ expressions each time when I tell him about the “new one”.

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