I'm disgusted with myself.
And not because I can't break the habit of chomping on ice. If the President gets to keep smoking, I get a glass of ice cubes without a dentist shooting me dirty looks.
No, my revulsion comes from within and without, from myself and onward, from the individualized self-pity clogging our economic drain. Oh, it's grimy and gross and a peak down the pipe will bring you eye to eye with the gunk beast. Or most of us can just look in the mirror.
Nearly two years ago my name was added to the roster of unemployed, currently excelling at 8.5 percent nationally and reaching evermore skyward. I lost my job. Yep. Gone.
What the Chicago Sun-Times faces this week, the magazine of my illustrious three-year employment in management faced two years ago. How did they survive? Well, for starters, they laid me off. Those salaried employees are such a bother.
And then they cut strings and cut corners and cut anything but main arteries for ad blood flow, and they survived. Sort of.
I wished them well. I really did. I hit the pavement with a letter of recommendation and "I really hate doing this" guilt from my previous employer, while breathing in a new era. Change. Inhale. Exhale. Feel it? Change. Glorious, mysterious, ecumenical change.
Between writing gigs, I did things like yard work and construction work and any work where money changed hands from theirs to mine, as long as it was legal and moral and didn't require a tetanus shot. Eventually, the writing increased and I stopped pulling weeds.
It's been easy money all the way. I mean e-z. Self-employment means I pay myself whatever salary I choose. And the work is cake. With strawberries. I wake up in the morning with inspiration, handpick the perfect assignment for the day, and conjure up words of enlightenment while eased by the fulfillment of life and the cush of my chair.
With a snap of my professionally manicured fingers, or toes, if you're so inclined, the money arrives ready at my beck and call to scurry off to the utility companies.
You know that's a lie. Don't you? You can feel it. Because that kind of gunk, yes my word for the day, is exactly the drivel we're buying into. Actually, forget present tense. Not buying. Bought. It's paid for. Totally accepted, embraced, and tattooed with our initials.
Eventually, life just works out. Eventually. And when it doesn't...Oh, the atrocity! Oh, the angst! How devilishly unfair! Life was suppose to be different. Better. More to our liking. This isn't what we planned. We've been wronged! Things were suppose to be easier, neater, cleaner, more lucrative, more glamorous, all because. Just because.
Since I've had these same thoughts, I can freely and with rightful and appropriate malice say, "Shut up." I mean it. Don't speak. I don't want to hear it, not from you, not from me. I'm done with the wallowing in self-pity that, through some ugly twist of populist thought, is now considered "enlightened."
Life is so unfair; therefore, government aide, money, assistance, and lots of breaks from anyone with more of anything than you, are owed. We deserve it. Not because we attribute to the greater good, not because of what we offer, not because of our unique skill set or ambition or work ethic or employment value, but because we D-E-S-E-R-V-E what we want. Everything we want.
Enough of the complaining. Enough of the sob stories. Just enough. You want something different? Make. It. Happen.
There was an era, before whining got you sympathy instead of loathing, that looked at problems as opportunities. Obstacles meant the need for ingenuity and ingenuity brought about revolutions. Those that knew how to problem-solve went down in history. Those who succumbed to problems, went down the drain.
Henry Ford practiced this tenacious outlook. When faced with the inability to produce vehicles fast enough and cheap enough to be purchased by the average American, Ford decided to think about it. Brainstorm. Problem-solve.
He could have just quit. It was impossible. No one else could do it. It was too hard. No one would blame him for giving up. And I'm positive some guy out there, some unnamed entrepreneur, did just that. That's why that faceless guy came and went without a footnote in the encyclopedia.
Instead, Ford searched for a way around the specialized engineering required to build a vehicle, thus making it impossible to do it quickly or cheaply, and he birthed mass production.
These days, when things get tough, we get food stamps. One in 10 families in America receive them. We want to moan about the tragedy of our national situation, about all those poor people, but I don't feel it. Most of them have just quit. So instead of sympathy, I feel shame. And a bitter taste of sadness for what they could have been, what they could have accomplished. Instead, they'll be faceless car guy who simply came and went. They've purchased the trite excuse of "can't" instead of "will".
Yes, I know. Where's my compassion? Don't I understand what people and families are going through?
Actually, I do. I have been a sob story. In fact, I come from a long-line of sob stories. In all truth, who doesn't? It's called life, an untamed savage racing to, at, and past all of us in different velocities and varying wind gusts.
But I had parents with a different skill set. They looked at life's challenges and said, "We'll just have to work harder." And did. And still do.
Then there's me and I enjoy a good self-pity wallow from time to time. No tear is more bitter than those cried over myself. And I'm revolted by it. Besides, I have a strong feeling I'm not alone. So I'm revolted by you too, if the shoe fits.
All I can say is, I'm ready. I'm so beyond ready to see a surge of strength and empowerment emerge from this self-pitying culture. I'm beyond anxious to see the workforce of this country demand the looters and moochers take their place in the fields. I'm beyond need to know the swelling current of entitlement won't erode this miraculous country built by visionary men and women.
I'm so beyond the pity, for myself, for you, because more than the house or the car or the lifestyle that you desire, I'd rather see you free. Pity is nothing more than self-imposed shackles. So take them off.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have work to do.