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Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:32 PM

2 Men Talking

The torrent of words rushed up within me on a spring morning in a conversation I had with my hapless boss.
Locked up in Illinois is a guy I had worked with many years ago.
Why are you telling me this?
You asked me what the “f” is going on and I’m trying to tell you.
“Oh”, he said wearing a puzzled expression.
Nobody liked him much. I was always kind to him. I was the only one who would work with him.
He got locked up for robbing a bank. He was sentenced to only 11 years, because of diminished capacity, Asperger’s Syndrome. Hank (the chief steward) and the boy’s hate to admit it, but that is what it was, adjudicated in Federal court. So all the time they were f-ing, with him over the years it was for being crippled with a handicap.
I struggled very hard not to go along with them and I was made to pay for it.
They were at war with him for becoming an agency member of the union, and trying to cross the picket line during one of the strikes, though I asked them for proof he scabbed the strike, I never got it. I reminded them he stayed out for the big strike 10 years ago, but they were pissed. They wanted war.
It was their own damn fault.
When Bill first got here, some jack ass complained to security about him. The union never did anything about it; they were f-ing rats.
Before he transferred here he worked in the city, I did too. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing! We were in complete shock; the first thing you learn on the job is to never complain to the company about another tech. In hind sight they were correct, but at the time you couldn’t make that call. Could you?
Sure he was strange, wearing army fatigues all the time, and spouting right wing politics, I thought he was funny, and I worked with tons of oddballs over the years. I had more tolerance for nuts. We would argue over politics we had plenty of laughs. I never agreed with him about anything. Sure he gave me a book signed by its author David Duke (a totally indecipherable mess). I gave him a book signed by Susan Mc Dougal of Clinton White Water fame.
I just couldn’t take part in their war on him. It weighed heavily on my conscience. To the unions credit they never made it a directive by the Hall, although it was inferred that I would have to go along. Their reasoning was “esprit de corps” I was told. It was a very hard choice. It got especially difficult after Bill got locked up. Maybe Hank the f-ing Rocket scientist he is thought I would take down a couple of banks too. I’m working here since I was 19 when I got this job I felt as though I hit the lottery. If I wanted a criminal life I had plenty of opportunity. I knew hardcore criminals when I was growing up in the inner city. I married a policeman’s daughter, damn it, I don’t have any criminal history. He wouldn’t have let me marry his daughter if I did.
So no one spoke to me for years, I was shunned like the Amish. I didn’t join the f-ing Amish here, did I? It became really brutal. My work was sabotaged behind me, but I soldiered on, never ratting on them.
See there was another reason I couldn’t join their war on Bill. He had Asperger’s; it means he was emotionally impaired measured on the Autism spectrum. Bill was apparently high functioning, but still problematic. They usually struggle to keep any employment because of social awkwardness.
I didn’t know it at the time; I was told much later, my son also suffers from Asperger’s. The doctors don’t rush to judgment on a serious diagnosis like this. We were taking him to the doctor for years. I was very troubled.
Asperger’s draws every bullying bastard at school to attack. The school administrators were on my cell phone speed dial but as the children got older they bullied less and less. What gives with these assholes?
My mother is from the old country, she would say “may that trouble pass by anybody’s door”. This misfortune passed by their door, but it didn’t pass mine. I couldn’t mock anyone who was carrying the same cross my son was, Could I. So for me to join them bastard’s I would had to be a real f-ing hypocrite.
They went over board in their belief in their self-importance, they acted Machiavellian? Carrying on like Teamster thugs? As belligerent as you could ever wish, but if I ever hit them a poke I would get fired. They were pure f-ing phonies, picking fights knowing my hands were tied.
I wept like a baby on the floor of the garage one day because I was overwhelmed by the urge to choke the life out of one stupid f**k one day. I just wept.
Could I have done anything differently? What would you have done? What would anybody do?
This bullshit is definitely actionable in court; my first cousin is a member of the state Bar, if I give it to him to run with everyone will come out of it looking very bad.
But that isn’t my way. . . I probably wouldn’t prevail in court anyway, Life isn’t fair.
All I want is a work place with no Drama!
You have a business to run; I just come to work to put down an honest day all the rest is all water off my back. All I want is a place to work with no more drama. Am I being reasonable?
We shook hands and I went away to work.
One week later when entering the office before dispatch, I noticed a less chilly reception from the crowd. One guy who was a Pentecostal preacher on Sundays spoke up “Integrity entering the room” he said. Inside me I felt a flush of emotion. I still didn’t know how things would work out.
Years have passed since those trying times.
I still don’t know if I did the right thing. I went with my heart not my head.
I clearly misjudged the massive cost involved in trying to swim against the tide.
A John Lennon song captures how I feel after this experience.
“They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
Till you're so crazy you can't follow their rules
A working class hero is something to be”
It is something I reflect upon from time to time.

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