Category: Sooey Says
Squaring the Minimum Wage Circle
The training video is supposed to inspire employees about a company that was once family owned, a society couple seizing a business opportunity in postwar America, the little venture that grew, now owned by a private equity firm.
In between the family and the equity firm the business was owned by a multi-national corporate entity with a widely recognizable name. As far as I can tell, it has nothing in particular to do with the product line.
The CEO in the video makes it sound as if being owned by a private equity firm adds to the quality of the business, and we should all be very excited about where the new owners will take us.
I try to imagine what Chris Hedges would have to say to that.
It’s pretty eye-rolling stuff, but then again, so was the two day public service orientation I attended once upon a time, too long into the job not to know that the values and ethics guide only applies to order-takers, not order-givers.
I don’t think Canadians understand that order-takers don’t make up work, order-givers make up work. And order-givers are the governing politicians of the day. So it’s a little bit like drivers complaining about traffic for voters to complain about bureaucracy.
We’re all traffic like we’re all bureaucracy. It’s a fact. A Canadian fact.
And, of course, all sorts of this and that happens at the very top level of government that’s supposed to be secret because it’s wrong (in the corrupt as opposed to the incompetent sense), but nothing in government is secret, not really. For instance, I remember seeing a memo discussing how the Harper government should fix it so that the government of Alberta could contract out its environmental regulatory power to a third party (i.e. the oil and gas industry) and I was a very low level order-taker.
Also, a few years ago I worked in an area of government where senior management was communicating by yellow sticky notes because they were trying to keep pertinent details from being included should there be an access to information request. There wasn’t necessarily anything nefarious going on, but there was an annual clawback of funds that were supposed to go towards a specific program that didn’t.
Where did it go instead? Well, the minister at the time became well known for misappropriating government funds to build gazebos in his riding, and now he’s the President of Treasury Board, so who knows?
I was just a casual hire, again, a low level order-taker, but even I knew that wasn’t how the work of government should be performed. I can’t remember if the values and ethics guide spells it out in so many words, but if you’re making decisions that won’t stand up to public scrutiny, you know you’re not following the spirit of the guide, if not its letter.
A public servant who isn’t leaving a paper trail or who is told not to leave a paper trail and who follows that order is guilty of violating the values and ethics guide – in my former low level order-taking opinion.
What I will make working in the private sector (as I pointed out in a previous blog entry, it’s temporary, part-time, and minimum wage) won’t cover groceries for the three of us (my Beau, my son, and myself) as I’m shopping now, but I plan to budget my grocery shopping to fit my new paycheck – and then stick with it regardless of what happens.
Yesterday, I cut my usual grocery store bill in half by buying reduced produce. I got a bag of apples for 99 cents, a couple of bags of mixed root vegetables for 99 cents, chinese eggplants, zucchinis, bananas – all marked down to 99 cents, and coconut/white chocolate bread at 30% off that I made into a bread pudding (with some of the apples). The bananas I bought I’ll make into banana bread today. They’re a bit mushy – a great excuse, don’t you think?
I still bought organic ground beef for chili, but I put back the wild smoked salmon when it turned out to be $12.99 at the cash. I thought it was $5.99. I’ve been buying it on and off for a couple of years, too. Instead, I dashed back and got a can of sardines. I cook a lot of vegetarian stuff but my son’s living with us right now and my sister-in-law is a big believer in protein for aging women.
I’m aging. I need protein.
The small of my back is sore because I’m on my feet for an entire shift, but it’s always been my weak spot and I was expecting it to be a concern. Also, I’m not alone in that complaint. It’s not a misery likes company thing, it’s a commiserating thing. One co-worker referred to commiserating as good for the soul.
I joked that in the government it’s referred to as team-building. She liked that, and then told a story about a friend who hates her job in the government but can’t leave because she’s only got a few years until she retires.
A few years of her life, I said. Imagine, voluntarily making that sacrifice. I’m glad I was laid-off.
And I am glad. So thank you, Harper government. It would have been too hard to quit a good paying and decent job that I didn’t really want because it was hard and boring and compromised by order-givers.
Speaking of which, my feet are good, thanks to a couple of pairs of Josef Seibels that I bought when I was making good money and could afford them (so if you’re making good money – buy a comfortable pair of shoes right now – you may need them later!) and I’m learning to take a brief (15 minutes) break mid-shift when I spot an opening.
I make my own granola which I brought to my last shift. I bought a little carton of milk to have with it, drinking the rest. It can get dry at work. I was surprised by how much better I felt taking a break, something I didn’t bother doing on my first shift.
Everything has to be run by a manager but they do more or less the same job as everybody else and know what’s what, so they’re reasonably accommodating. When I noticed a lull I said, “Should I take ten now?”
“Yes! Yes! Go! Take it! Now!” was her reply.
Reasonably. Managers in the private sector operate within pretty tight parameters, so reasonably is the operative word when it comes to accommodating staff wants/needs. It only took one shift before I realized that working through a break isn’t advisable even if it’s convenient, so part of the job is figuring out when to take it. There’s never a good time, there’s just not a bad time, and I can see that I’ll have to be more forthright than I’m used to being.
On the other hand, innovation and initiative is more than welcome, which is really fun after a few years working in jobs where it isn’t. That’s not a slight against government, either, because in spite of what governing politicians may claim to the public, it doesn’t benefit us to have individual public servants being innovative and showing off their initiative. That way chaos lies.
Alas, innovation and initiative has to come from the order-givers, and the order-givers are governing politicians.
Good luck with all that, as they say.
The thing is, I like it out here in the private sector. I’m scared, but scared excited, not scared existential. I can’t tell you how many times I was told I didn’t belong in government, not in a mean way, just in the way that, well, I didn’t belong in there, I belong out here. I couldn’t see it, myself. I’ve even joked that I’m a government baby, and I thought I meant in the sense of the only kind of work I’m good for, but even my last job, which was as good a government job as I deserve (and I mean that pretty much literally and also in a good way) it wasn’t until I was nearing the end that I got the knack of it.
Also, what I’m really good at wasn’t actually my job, because what I’m really good at is editing and/or re-writing. And anything and everything I came across I wanted to edit and/or re-write. Unfortunately, the problem isn’t so much that almost all writing in the government is terrible, it’s that no one cares that it’s terrible.
Anyway, I sort of knew everybody else was right, that I didn’t belong in the government, but a certain ennui had settled in by the time I did and I couldn’t imagine working in the private sector, either, and feeling like I belonged there.
I was working for the government because I thought it was better than it is, and also easier. But now that I’m working in the private sector (albeit temporarily and part-time) I understand why people prefer it. It’s not just easier, it’s more fun. And I don’t bring it home with me or carry it around in my soul. When I leave work, I’m free, and my time is my own.
It’s not a matter of belonging in the private sector.
Also, to get any kind of assignment in the government you have to go through an agency now, and most of what I’m eligible for pays minimum wage. That’s because the government has to take the lowest bid offered by an agency on a job, so they all just bid the resource (that’s you or me) at $10.25/hour to save time on the race to the bottom of the pay scale.
Be very glad that we have a minimum wage below which the bastards can’t go.
Personally, I can’t imagine choosing to work full-time for minimum wage in the government when I can get part-time minimum wage jobs here on the outside. I had a good paying job for three years and no regrets but when I was laid-off it wasn’t a moment too soon, to be honest, and I was making more than twice minimum wage. I’d say, “who knew?”, but it was everybody around me, so there go I, relieved that I’m not still there wishing I had the energy to quit.
Anyway, that’s not what this entry is about because this entry is about how working in the private sector vs the public sector has changed how I feel about money. It’s important, I think, because for the past few months I haven’t been making any money at all and yet I haven’t been budgeting it, either. But now, now that I’m working for minimum wage (and feeling it in my lower back), I’m very aware of what $10.25 is worth. For instance, just getting to and from work on public transit uses 60% of my first hour on the job. The milk I buy to have with my granola takes it up to 75%. And since I only work 5 hour shifts, 3, 4, or 5 times/week, that’s not insignificant.
On the other hand, I’m certainly worth it to my employer, I have no doubts about that, whereas I had a lot of doubts about my worth to government, which brings with it a certain kind of stress that made it difficult for me to enjoy my time away from work. And all that time wasted doing work for governing politicians who really, when you get right down to it, are as corrupt and/or incompetent as the public service day is long, well, it’s soul-destroying. There’s no other way to put it. You’re compromised by an oath.
I am free, finally, of compromise, and it feels good, the incredible lightness of being.
I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated downtime as much as I do now, either. My time is my own and there’s none of that weird crossover from public to private. I’m not sure how to articulate it but there’s something so different about being paid for my labour out of private wallets as opposed to the public purse that I’ll probably want to explore it some more in future blog entries.
One of my favourite books is “Nickel and Dimed in America” by Barbara Ehrenreich and I’m starting to understand why.
We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Math
Whoa, sorry about the blogging absence, eh, but I’ve been working hard elsewhere for even less money, if you can believe it.
Oops, I mean, hardworking. I’m hardworking for less money. Plus expenses, actually, but never mind all that because I also managed to score a part-time temporary minimum wage gig about which I think I might even be a little bit excited.
But don’t look to me for how I got it because it was a combination of random luck here and random luck there that collided randomly for a brief moment in time.
One’s confidence does take a beating during an extended bout of unemployment, doesn’t it. Seems doubly unfair that it flags when you need it most, too, but I guess I’d reached that magic “enh, what the hell” state of being that allowed me to walk into a workplace that happened to be hiring at the exact moment I happened to be walking by, and announce that, although I have no experience at all, I wouldn’t mind getting some, so yeah, I guess I’m applying for the job.
Cripes, I practically dislocated my jaw to the floor when they said, “Come back tomorrow and talk to the manager.”
As I keep saying (to cheer my haters, who have been with me ever since I first burst online to incredible fanfare, now that I really stop and think about it) I’ve never been unemployed (involuntarily) before (by the way, haters, don’t despair, it’s just part-time/temporary/minimum wage) so the past year (plus) has been one long teaching moment for me.
Oh, and just so’s you know, if I’m ever close enough to a governing politician to take my boot off in his arse for using the expression “hardworking” to refer to his employers who have jobs, as opposed to his employers who don’t, I promise not to get cheap on you and try to get another year out of them instead, ‘kay?
No, don’t thank me, you’re more than welcome. I need new boots anyway. I promise you, I will take one of my old ones off in his arse. Both, if it’s Tony Clement.
So yeah, I just saw a sign, walked in, laid on the ol’ Sooey magic, and voila! I’z a workin’ mame now.
(By the way, I don’t know who’s getting work through Ottawa’s various and sundry employment agencies, but for me it’s been a few months of a lot of razzmatazz and public transit fares to supply them with this and that bit of this and that.)
After I went back and talked to the manager I even underwent a short bout of training – already – without knowing if I’ll be paid for it, so pleased was I to be doing something completely different from the sort of work I normally do for money and all the work I’ve been doing for no money plus expenses.
Yup, what the hell, eh? Why be pinned down by education and experience when you can start over doing something you know nothing about at a minimum wage that’s $7.00 higher than when you last earned minimum wage! Besides, G-jobs through agencies (and there’s virtually no other way to get a G-job, although you can do lots of exams and interviews and maybe even end up in a pool – from which you will never be picked because unless you’re in tarsands advertising – fuhgeddabowddit) are now minimum wage, too, and given the current misery rate in the public service, why not do something that at least comes with a little fun.
That’s what my new boss said after my training session, “It’ll be fun. You’ll like it.”
Fun. Now I defy you to find a public servant who would ever in a million years use the word fun to describe her job.
Don’t stay in school, kids. Seriously, just quit. It doesn’t matter what grade you’re in, quit now before you waste another second. And don’t pay any attention to all that math gloom and doom “our kids can’t do math!” because nothing is worth anything anyway.
Cripes, and statistics are so yesterday they may as well be values and ethics in governance.
But the reason I’m blogging about my new part-time temporary minimum wage employment is because I’ve noticed that, as soon as I knew I had it, I suddenly allowed myself to have downtime.
It’s so nice to have a job again so I can have some downtime. Because that’s the thing, isn’t it; when you need or want to make money (I almost used that evil word “earn” in the context of money again, that’s how propagandized I am) but are having no luck (and it’s all about luck, no matter how hard you work at trying to get a job, so don’t strain yourself because it’s not worth it, luck will either provide or it won’t) you end up denying yourself downtime, so that all time becomes the same and wasted with worry about not making new money to replace the old money you’ve been spending to stay alive.
Indeed, last night I actually allowed myself to read a weekend Globe article (that was too long to use time reading when I was completely unemployed – I know, but I think there’s a bit of depression that comes with unemployment that puts obstacles along the logic pathways of our brain) about people who survived the explosion in Lac Megantic that killed 47 of its citizens (for all my young readers, that’s almost 1% of the town).
And then I read an article in the Ottawa Citizen about how companies like Goldman Sachs are battling young employee burnout by not letting them work around the clock 24/7, including weekends and vacations, because apparently, if they don’t make them not do this, they will, like hamsters on a wheel.
Some employees have actually died working around the clock for companies like Goldman Sachs, and they weren’t even real employees, they were just interns, some of them not even paid. Imagine. Highly educated young people voluntarily working themselves to death for little or no pay in hopes of a continued life of such servitude to making money that their employers have to actually force them to take some downtime.
Of course, being psychopaths, they’re not doing it because they care about the health and well being of their employees, they’re doing it because not caring about the health and well being of their employees costs them money. Their employees aren’t sister and brother human beings to them, they’re resources. In fact, even government refers to potential hires through the agencies I’m signed on with as resources, “the resource will be required to perform such and such duties”.
I mean, really, it’s absurd, isn’t it? So many young people unable to find jobs, other young people working themselves to death – and for no remuneration!
Math? Fuhgeddabowddit, kids. History, that’s where it’s at. Or, at least, that’s where we seem to be headed.
When we lived in one of our in between places I had a friend whose baby was abnormal. I don’t know what the condition was, but she didn’t look like other babies. She was abnormally large.
And it’s incredible how alike all babies look until one comes along that looks different.
Over the couple of years we were there, her difference became more pronounced, not less, as she grew abnormally larger. She was watchful, but she wasn’t meeting any of the other usual milestones and was especially silent. One day when I walked in to playgroup I noticed her mother had propped her in a standing position against the wall.
She was wearing the biggest bonnet I’d ever see and brought to mind a lone sunflower in a garden of begonias, marigolds, and pansies.
I wondered where her mother could have bought the bonnet, but then realized she must have sewn it herself. She was a Suzie homemaker type.
Even while I thought this, her giant child was sliding down the wall sideways, her stare not wavering, no sound, until she was pretty much horizontal. When my friend finally noticed she “tsktsked and cluckclucked” and then propped her back up again.
I say that like it was nothing but it looked to be quite an effort and when she returned to the mother circle she exclaimed, “Soon she’s going to be too heavy even for me!”
The rest of us smiled as if it was totally normal to have a toddler almost as big as yourself but she was already telling us about a problem she and her husband were having with their house, which was very old, and how her husband was so busy working on other people’s houses that he didn’t have time for their own.
“He’s never home anymore! Always on call!”
I felt bad for him but then thought maybe he’s one of those simple souls who can soldier through whatever life throws at him.
It was awkward, but she seemed determined to carry on as if everything was ticketyboo, chastising (in a cajoling way) her giant baby for lack of effort, until eventually she was walking, although in a way that just emphasized her difference, tick (one side), tock (the other), slowly but surely making her way to the toy box while the other toddlers tumbled about the room around her.
We had a few playdates at her house. I think she liked having me and my two girls over because we made it a group. Also, my firstborn was a somewhat sedentary sort who liked watching television and never really took to play, while my second was a player, very active. Once, during a freakishly cold stretch when we couldn’t go outside (for very long, at least, because I had a routine that I stuck to like glue and going outside every day – no matter what – was part of the routine), she tried to climb the living room curtains. I caught her in the act but she was trying to retrieve a Barbie she’d stuck in the pleat so it wasn’t her first time up to the ceiling.
In my head, she was always playing quietly, happy and content, but a visiting friend once took a few pictures and in later years when I described her as having been an easy child, she took a particularly revealing one out of her purse and I suddenly remembered how she would sometimes attach herself to my leg and scream and cry until she was red in the face.
Anyway, on our playdates my first and her only would sit and watch a movie, hers sort of slumped sideways, mostly silently because my first was a long time talking and when she finally did she reserved her conversation for important matters, usually to do with the environment, but sometimes more serious even than disappearing frogs and the unlikely survival of earth’s large mammals.
Once, before playgroup, she was taking a long time to get ready and finally I asked what the matter was and she looked at me, a tear rolling down her cheek, “You’re going to die and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
It’s really kind of ironic because she grew up to become a pop culture aficionado. People who say other people don’t change must not be paying very close attention, or else they don’t have kids, because they do change. The child who was once attached to my leg doesn’t even live in the same city as me now.
On the playdate, that daughter busied herself playing with the odd new and different toy that went otherwise unused, while I chatted to my friend about this and that. I was always a little more political than other mothers at home, I thought, and she fascinated me because she was what I think of as a stereotype of a stereotype. She baked and sewed and did crafts. Once she came right out and said, “I’m the girl and he’s the boy. I like doing girl things and he likes doing boy things. That’s normal, isn’t it?”
She was talking about her marriage.
I didn’t know what to say because I didn’t know what I thought anymore. I just knew that when I went to work parties with my husband I had nothing to say about my current life that was of interest to anyone, but if I mentioned my past work life, suddenly everyone was curious. I was at home for my own reasons and it still bugs me when my Conservative friend goes on about how I was at home because I wanted to be. It wasn’t that kind of choice, it was a different kind of choice.
It was hard being of no interest to anyone, so I envied her perspective, and especially that she didn’t care about being of interest to anyone, but then her giant baby would loom into view and I’d feel bad about everything, how shitty life is for some people, all why why why, and I’d get bogged down. I had trouble leaving other people’s lives with them and always took home bits and pieces.
“Make dinner” was a version of “snap out of it”, I think now.
One day, I was at another friend’s house for a playdate. She had a third friend over as well, new to me but not to the mother circle at playgroup, and our kids were all in the playroom where we eventually ended up, too, because they were toddlers and we were of the helicopter parent generation. This friend’s marriage imploded a year later, it’s quite a story. She was Conservative, very traditional, but she’d been a business woman before being a homemaker and put her husband through school, so she was a different kind of traditional.
Ball-busting traditional, I’d say. She and her husband were middle-school sweethearts. I’d describe their break-up as epic.
Anyway, she’d made muffins and I was eating one (I really don’t like muffins because to me they’re neither/nor) when I noticed little bits of mold on the bottoms after the paper was peeled off.
“I think these might be a bit, uh, moldy. On the bottoms.”
“No, that’s not possible. I just made them yesterday.”
But her other friend said, “They must have been warm when you put them away and the mold grew under the paper overnight.”
She took hers to the kitchen and tossed it in the garbage. K., my friend, was embarrassed but laughing and threw the rest of them in, too. I was just as glad because, like I say – muffins. Then she scrambled for something else for us to eat but I was happy with just coffee and her friend was, too, so finally she relaxed and we were talking about kids and husbands and then I mentioned having been at my other friend’s place the other day.
She was having to make do with a bucket as a toilet because her husband still hadn’t got around to doing their bathroom.
K. looked at her other friend and then back at me, concerned.
“There’s no husband, she’s a single mom. Haven’t you noticed how she acts like everything’s normal with her baby, when it’s so obvious that it’s not? She has a social worker now, I think. She looks after the baby and everything but she’s totally nuts.”
Later, I phoned my friend, the one who’d taken the pictures, and told her about it. We’d worked together at the caucus and she reminded me of the time I saw a strange man lurking about in the hall, so I reported him to my boss. He went out in the hall to check, giggling about how brave he was, but then immediately back-tracked, “Actually, he’s one of our members.” Then, “He’s not often in his office but, yeah, just, next time you see him hanging around like that, um, just ignore him. Go around the other way. He can be a little unpredictable.”
Anyway, we relived the old days as we often did and I came up with “kookoobananasville” to describe the caucus and she thought that was really inspired – kookoobananasville – and took to applying it to all sorts of people and situations. You could be kookoobananasville yourself or you could be living in kookoobananasville because of those around you. It was always reassuring to talk to her about the stuff going on in my mother-at-home world because she had zero respect for the old workplace.
In other words, she made me feel like I was making good choices, at least while we were on the phone talking, and I didn’t feel so much like I was missing out on everything.
And kookoobananasville is truly inspired, isn’t it?
“Let them see what they’ve done”
That was apparently Jackie’s response when it was suggested to her that she clean up (JFK’s blood, hair and brain tissue was splattered all over her pink suit) for Lyndon Bowles Johnson’s swearing in immediately after the assassination of her husband.
But, of course, who’s the “they” she means?
Jackie O. Woman of mystery. I remember reading a piece about her in an old magazine someone had at a cottage. It was by a friend of hers and it talked about how passive aggressive Jackie was around Onassis. According to the friend, Onassis was mad that Jackie wasn’t being the queen of style with him that she’d been with JFK. Instead, she’d taken to wearing house dresses and kerchiefs, and staring off into the distance, smoking (I may be making up the smoking part).
So he’d badger and bully her, trying to make her jealous, by going on about how stylish so-and-so in their group looked compared to the slattern Jackie had become.
“Yes, she looks lovely”, or somesuch, Jackie would reply, smiling sadly at the beauty of another woman her new husband was using to snap her out of it.
It was years ago I read the piece but it was the most interesting one I’ve ever read about anybody connected to the Kennedys. We’re so aware of depression these days it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to be the Kennedy woman – by marriage – the tie suddenly severed by unimaginable violence.
Rob Lowe, in a movie about Kennedy in which he plays the lead, claims JFK and Jackie had just recently got their marriage on track again.
In JFK’s death now she’s Jackie, not Jackie O. That would be tacky, wouldn’t it: Tacky Jackie-O.
I was talking to my mother yesterday about all the coverage of the assassination. She remembers watching it on tv, said something about having moved it (the tv) into the den after my father died.
The den was where he moved his practice after he became too sick to go to the office and before my mother and his doctor were able to convince him to go into hospital. He never came home, and in fact died way off in Toronto at Princess Margaret, my uncle says of a morphine overdose deliberately administered by medical staff.
I remember he used to phone us Sunday night and we’d line up and each take a turn talking to him (except my younger sister who was a baby). My grandmother, not the one who lived with us later, the other one, his mother, was behind me in line and I hung up the phone after my turn, thinking I’d done the right thing. That would only have happened the one time I remember lining up, I’m sure, but I remember it as if my grandmother never got to talk to her son again.
Kids don’t have perspective.
The night he died I remember my older sister crying. She was in bed with my mother, where I wanted to be, and when I showed up as I so often did (“I had a bad dream, can I sleep with you?) I was sent back to my room.
“Why is S. crying?”
“Your father died last night. Go back to bed.”
But I’d unbonded or forgotten about him by then and just had my long hair in pigtails that my mother said he liked to pretend to pull. We have pictures of him playing with us, roughhousing, on the floor. When they knew he was dying my parents decided to take lots of pictures so we’d have them to remember him by. Also, he was a very good amateur photographer and had invested in a fair bit of equipment. It was a hobby he took up during the war. He photographed fellow soldiers during their downtime.
When I was getting married my brother sent me a picture he’d had framed of my mother and father in early days, my grandmother visible in the background. It’s an outside shot and he’s in a tee-shirt. I’d only ever seen pictures of him in dress clothes and I was shocked by how narrow his shoulders were.
It was an emotional moment because my brother had sent the present to my workplace at Queen’s Park. Everyone was checking out the picture which was taken in the late 40s but mostly because I resemble my mother and she’s wearing short shorts and sitting on a fence. I wore short skirts in those days, although I don’t have her legs for it, and people thought it was funny.
Like mother, like daughter, they thought. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not like the missing parent either. Anyone who has kids should be able to recognize that they’re more like their peers than they are like their parents, but people want to believe what isn’t true, don’t they.
It’s nostalgia, I think.
Although I do have a hang-up about noise and my ex once accused me of using a glass to hear noise from the next apartment to be upset about. We were living in Toronto then and when I told my mother about it she thought it was so funny.
“I thought you were all me but when I hear that story I remember your father, and we were living right around the corner from where you are now, and he was going to school. He swore he couldn’t concentrate, had to go to the library, because of all the noise coming from next door. I said, ‘I can’t hear anything!’ And he said, ‘Shh, be quiet.’ And we waited until finally he heard something. ‘See?! Hear that?! They’re making noise!’ And I said, ‘Maybe you should stop listening so hard!’ I didn’t hear anything. I think he imagined it.”
My older sister remembers him waving from the back seat of the taxi. I had the derby he was wearing but one of my kids lost it at a halloween party, I believe. I’m not sure. A lot of “my stuff” is in the house I once lived in with my ex. I had a plaid tie, too, that was his, but my mother gave away the rest of his clothes.
She has said he was a bit of a clothes horse. But so is my mother and I wonder if she was actually the one outfitting him. She was years doing that with us, swearing by the look of success as the key to it. That and a degree.
If I had a nickel for every time she said, “Just get the piece of paper”, I’d be rich.
The items I’ve left behind don’t mean much to me because I don’t remember him that way. I have a snapshot in my head of my mother showing him a snowsuit she bought me, but he was in their bed, the one I would sleep in so often after he died.
It seems to me he was on my mother’s side of it, though. Maybe she switched later, although it doesn’t seem like something she’d do.
Another memory is of him in his plaid housecoat sitting at the breakfast room table. I think there are other people visiting but they’re dressed.
The day of his funeral I ran up and down the back lane like the town crier telling people my father died. I don’t remember being sad about it and I don’t think I was. I’d forgotten about him by then.
I don’t know the actual date of his death even now because, well, what does it really matter? It was some time in June, 1963. I got a bit of chronology out of my mother yesterday, but she had our ages mixed up, too, so I don’t know how reliable she is anymore on those sorts of details. So I asked her about her reaction when JFK was assassinated.
“Oh well, it was startling.”
“But not sad?”
“No. I didn’t feel sad about it. Your father died.”
I don’t believe people were affected the way they claim to have been by the assassination of JFK. I think their reaction has been made up over the years, just more American myth-making, millions and millions of people dining out on the story of where they were when Kennedy was shot.
And “who really killed JFK” still reverberates around the world even after Jackie, the world’s most famous fashion plate, wore his blood, hair, and brain tissue to witness the swearing in of the next American president.