August 15, 2000
Dead Franz Walking

Countdown to Son #Only: Two Days!

The buzz around the Totem Pole Company yesterday was that Franz was coming into the office hungover.

How did we know?  Because his drinking partner from the previous evening -- the ever-affable, dangerously-garrulous Main Traffic Engineering Guy -- was more than happy to spill the beans. "You shoulda seen Franz last night!" he crowed to anybody within earshot. "He was ten sheets to the wind!"  

I took one look at him when he finally crawled in  at 2 p.m. and I knew it was true. He was not just a little bit hungover, either.  Not *Politely Hungover From Wine With Sunday Dinner* hungover. Not *Still Feeling a Little Wobbly From the Beer-Making Party on Saturday* hungover. We're talking major league, dark sunglasses indoors, trembling hands, two-liter bottles of 7-Up, get the hell outta my way/where the fudk do you think YOU'RE going?, door closed, hold-my-calls, bloody eyes/blotchy complexion/puffy lips, twenty-minute trips to the bathroom Just Shoot Me Now H-U-N-G-O-V-E-R.  He spent the entire afternoon *communicating* with me from forty feet away via voicemail.

So does that help explain his surly demeanor yesterday? The unreasonable demands? The Cadaver Breath? 

(Misdialing my extension number eleven times in a row, and then finding a way to blame *me* for it?)

Well ... no. He's always like that.

But it does help reinforce -- for the eleven bazillionth time -- all of the reasons why *I* no longer show up for work looking (and smelling) like I spent a good chunk of the previous evening laying upside down on a deflated air mattress, vomiting cheap chablis on myself.  It smells bad. It looks bad. It seriously impairs your ability to lift a coffee cup to your face without dribbling eleven ounces of Peet's French Roast on your $175 Ermengildo Zegna tie. (Or, in my case, my $3.95 Value Village blouse.)  And it makes everybody around you lose precious *respect molecules* for you. 

Which is especially hazardous when they didn't have all that many to begin with.

      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

I was reading some old journals last night ... handwritten journals from the early Tree House era, exactly two years ago this month ... written right about the time The Doc and I were breaking up for the last time, and I was beginning the final descent into total dysfunction.  (I'm thinking about transcribing those journals this fall and adding them to the archives. Enough time has gone by, I think, that The Pennsylvania Faction no longer reads FootNotes ... or if they do, they're no longer thinking about hiring that hit man. Plus it will fill in some of the holes in *the story* for my mom.)

In the journals, I describe -- in excruciating detail -- one particularly brutal hangover:

"... I am sitting here in the lunchroom at Benchmade, nursing my third Diet Sprite of the day. I had to borrow five dollars in change from Debi Stark to buy it. I was going to use half the money for pop and half of it for a burrito for lunch later, since that's the cheapest thing in the vending machine, but the truth is that I would throw up immediately if I try to eat anything right now, I know it. As it is, I threw up the first two cans of Sprite as soon as I drank them. Sheer willpower is going to keep this third can of pop (and the Extra Strength Tylenol) down.

That's one of the things I hate most about being hungover: feeling this terrible agonizing thirst, but not being able to just dump a gallon of liquid on top of it and slake it, once and for all. (Although I guess that's not as bad as sitting on the toilet in the ladies' room at work with terminal diarrhea ... and then suddenly feeling like you're going to throw up, too ... and the sink is a good five feet away. Meanwhile I can hear Jill paging me on the intercom to come to the front desk. Ack.)

Oh well. I guess I'll live through this day somehow. I always do. And tomorrow is Friday, so I can start the process all over again. Wheeee."

I remember that day. I remember exactly how I felt. I remember it with my head, and I remember it with my nervous system, and with my stomach, and with my skin, and with my bowels, and with my bank account.  And I know that that particular hangover was far from an anomaly: there were many, many mornings exactly like that one. 

I wonder sometimes how I lived through it.

      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

Today Franz was abnormally cheerful.

He breezed into the office a full jaw-dropping forty minutes earlier than expected. All morning long he was in full Hail-Fellow-Well-Met mode ... engaging in loud hallway conversations, poking his head into cubicles, clapping people on the back a lot (even the MIS Guy, who remains blissfully unaware that tomorrow they're planning to can his ass). If anybody noticed the overnight metamorphosis from *Dead Franz Walking* yesterday, to *Life of the Party Franz* today ... nobody said a word about it.

I remember I had days like that too, filled with energy and high spirits, once the hangover wore off. I wonder now if any of my co-workers looked at me and wondered what was going on.

I wonder if any of them knew but didn't say anything.

I'm not especially concerned or disgusted with Franz for any of this. In order to feel "concern" or "disgust," I would have to have some genuine emotional engagement going on here,  and I gave up on trying to achieve that sort of employer/employee attachment months ago. Mostly it just gives me another reason to fervently wish for a better job  ...  preferably one that doesn't leave me feeling sandblasted from the inside-out at the end of every day.

I was able to set aside all of my stoopid job-related distress for a few days, while Jaymi was here for her visit. I'll do it again later this week when Son #Only flies down for his four-day visit ... and once again next week, when it's Kacie's turn. I may be profoundly unhappy about my work situation, but I'm not going to let it interfere with shoe-shopping and sight-seeing and general Mom-and-Tot FunFunFun.

"Stick it out until we're finished with all of the Tot visits," David said gently this morning, as I attempted to apply Maybelline to eyelashes already coated with tears. "Then we'll start looking for that better job."

I know he's right.  I also know that reporting for work hungover is no longer an option for me.

Reporting to this particular job SOBER is tough enough, thankyouverymuch.

two years ago

throw a rock