Highly Caffeinated

Perhaps it’s the lack of sleep. Perhaps it’s a quad grande soy caramel mocha. Perhaps it’s leftover convention fever or the polling news over the weekend. Whatever the reason, I’m feeling very optimistic about November 6th.

Only a few weeks ago, I was despairing, terribly anxious that we were doomed to a Romney/Ryan radically right Presidency. Now, not so much.

Of course, I live in a blue state and work in a blue company. I live in a pretty blue neighborhood, with the exception of one or two neighbors, but even they are less “conservative” and more just kind of old and scared of the way the world has changed. Surrounded by and immersed in all this navy, royal, indigo, and teal, it’s difficult for me to gauge how the rest of the U.S. is feeling. For instance, I was positive that George W. Bush would not be re-elected in 2004, and oh, how wrong I was.

What a terrible day that was. I had been laid off in September, and just the day before the election my septic tank had backed up into the basement. I had the radio on full blast, listening to the polling results, while I finished digging up my yard, to get at the tank. I was covered in sewage, from cleaning out the basement; layered over with mud, from digging in the rain; and cold to the bone, because it was November in the northern latitudes.

The voice on the radio cut to Kerry’s concession speech, and W’s victory speech, and I just collapsed. I sat down in my muddy, sludgy hole of sewage, clutched my shovel and cried, certain that the next four years would suck like a Hoover.

I was right about that, at least. I got a new job just a few days later, but I had to take both a demotion and a pay cut. I also worked with the most dysfunctional group of narcissists I’ve ever witnessed, at probably the only company left in the PNW with closeted queers. I was the only out person in a company of 300, which defies the odds, especially up here.

I spent the next six years frustrated, bored, and annoyed, watching as the company had round after round of lay-offs, until it was once more my turn. Long before the recession was “official,” those of us in consumer goods and supply chain knew what was happening. The Bush years were bad years, as the middle and working classes were increasingly squeezed, but the uppermost class started flying caviar and smoked sturgeon around the world, even chartering planes for Copper River Salmon to private parties. My parents lost half their retirement during the “not a recession” years, and they are still recovering.

So, am I better off than I was four years ago? Yes. Things are improving now, which they weren’t then. I spent a few years contracting and freelancing after the last lay-off. The contracts got longer, the wages got better, and eventually, about six months ago, I got hired on full-time, at a better wage than I was making in 2000. Finally, my household is catching back up to where we were during the Clinton years. I think that’s better.

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