Three times today in three different contexts, I heard three different people say that something was “against the Constitution.” That’s all well and good of course, assuming that what you’re talking about has anything even remotely to do with the national user’s manual. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that nothing we were talking about today came anywhere close to that level importance. Look, “against the Constitution” is a fine figure of speech and I’m all for it, but these people were adamant that their particular issue was certain to be covered somewhere in an Article or in one of the Amendments at a minimum. I won’t cover the specifics other than to say simply that they were wrong. Not just wrong, but breathtakingly wrongheaded in fact.
It occurs to me that these are all educated people and then the real truth sinks in. Aside from knowing we have a Constitution and possible that there are amendments to it the average person knows alarmingly little about the Constitution and what it actually does. Now I’m not a fancy big city lawyer or even a passable excuse for a constitutional scholar, but I managed to follow the gist of it. I know more or less what the each Article covers and have a rough idea which amendments were added during which historical periods and the general topics they address. For those of you playing along at home, the first 12 were post revolutionary, 13-15 were a result of the Civil War, 16-21 were all about the Progressive movement, and 22-27 came along because the last half of the 20th century is when we started thinking that we needed an Amendment for things that would have been regular legislation in earlier eras.
I’ve long since given up on expecting people to know details about anything really, but if you’re going to try to buttress your argument by claiming constitutional blessing, it might help if you had at least some basic knowledge before opening your filthy pie hole. Otherwise you’re going to make me want to find a flag, wrap you in it, and then set you on fire. At least one of those two acts is constitutionally protected. Sadly, it’s not lighting dumbasses aflame.
Aren’t you supposed to feel rested and reenergized after you take almost a week off? Maybe that’s just a fiction created by Madison Avenue to sell timeshares and trips to sunny islands. Fact is, whatever restive effects I had been feeling this morning were dissipated long before lunch. After that, it was just another day at the office. Not good. Not bad. Just the same as every other day. This really isn’t a thinly veiled complaint, because as we all know, I’ve had jobs I’ve well and truly hated in the recent past. By comparison, this one is like puppy dog dreams on a feather bed. If lacking a certain degree of passion is the worst thing I can say, I suppose there’s very little to complain about at all. Of course it’s also possible that I’m a little out of sorts because I’ve spent a week letting my routine get thrown out of whack… and let’s be honest, we all know how much I like sticking to the routine.
Once my internal clock is resynced, things should be right as rain.
Maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion, but one of the things that makes me absolutely apoplectic is getting calls from the office on vacation days. Ninety-nine times out of 100, I’ve planned these days in advance, have put a lid on whatever projects I happen to be working on and handed off key pieces of information to the guy who’s backstopping me for the day. The fact is there’s nothing I’m working on that’s so important that it can’t wait less than 24 hours until I’m back at my desk. I know this because A) I’m not highly graded enough to start or end a war by myself and B) My distinguished institution survived two and a quarter centuries before I started showing up at the office.
As a rule, I don’t ask much of my employer. All I’m really looking for is a regular pay check and health insurance, a reasonably predictable schedule, and a few days off here and there. Other than that, anything else that comes down the pike is pretty much just a perk. I appreciate those too, but I certainly don’t expect them. Does “not calling me for trivial and routine issues when I’m off” qualify as an unreasonable expectation? I mean had I happened to be gone on a two-week cruise they wouldn’t have called, why is taking a random day off though the week given any less consideration? Spending two hours on the phone going over things with the office pretty much defeats the point of taking the day off. I wonder how telling them I’m only taking six hours of vacation for the day since I was working the other two would go over.
I know it’s a recession out and making waves for your employer isn’t a great idea. That’s why I’m here ranting instead of in the boss’ office ranting, right? But still, if that little bit of consideration is a bridge too far, just let me know.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.
I’ve said it before, but this seems like the perfect opportunity to reiterate that I love both my dogs beyond any sense of reason or logic. That’s the only reason I can think of that would have had me at the emergency vet at 1:00 in the morning on a Sunday with a Bulldog that wouldn’t stop throwing up even when there were no cookies left to hurl. I’m not a fancy big city vet, but I do know that no well animal blows chunks nine times in three hours. I’m enough of a diagnostician to know that gums are supposed to be pink and not gray. And of course being paranoid as I am, that let to an early morning visit to the closest emergency vet clinic. I’ll say up front that I’m glad they were open and I didn’t have to wait until Monday to have him seen by someone.
The good news is that after a metric crapload of scans, samples, and IV meds, my boy seems to be holding his own and I should be able to bring him home tonight. The down side, of course, is that the estimated bill for treatment and an overnight stay is somewhere in the neighborhood of $1500. Seriously. $1500. If that’s what it costs to fix him up, fine, but in the back of my head I can’t quite shake the thought that I’ve just spent 3/4 the cost of a new bulldog… or put another way, as much as it would have cost to adopt ten dogs from the pound. You can’t exactly put a price on the love and loyalty of a good dog, but we’re definitely getting into the neighborhood where one might start having second thoughts.
So yeah, consider this official notice that Christmas is cancelled this year. Gift money has been sent directly to VCA Animal Hospital. I won’t feel nearly as bad about dropping the cash when he’s back here snoring in the living room, but at the moment it’s feeling like a kick in the gut. In case anyone is wondering, when the vet called with an update at 9:00 this morning, the diagnosis was “yeah, we think he ate something that disagreed with his system.” I’m glad it wasn’t the intestinal blockage I was worried about, but still that’s a damned pricy upset stomach. Better safe than sorry. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
Every time I start packing I’m reminded why I so often go out of my way to avoid trips that involve staying somewhere overnight. I’m easy enough to manage; a chance of clothes, a toothbrush, and a bag full of electronics and power cables. I can be packed and out the door in somewhere under 20 minutes. Throw the dogs into the equation and the logistical engineering required for even a one night trip is something that would make the planners of the manned mission to Mars feel inadequate. Food, crates, toys, water, dog-proofing the back seat, the dropcloth to catch massive amounts of travel-induced shedding and stray loss of cookies will get things started. Then it’s a matter of avoiding tripping over them while I get my own stuff backed and loaded since neither will get out of the line of sight once they’ve seen a suitcase come out. It’s even worse once I actually start putting things in the truck. Then there’s unpacking on the other end just to do it all in reverse order a day or two later. Lord knows I begrudge these dogs absolutely nothing, but sometimes they are a real pain in the ass. Still, for all the hassle I wouldn’t really dream of going away without the fuzzy little buggers. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to come up with an easier way of getting their 300 pounds of gear from Point A to Point B without dragging it up out of the basement and getting it into the truck. So yeah, if anyone needs me for the next couple of hours before it gets dark I’ll be spending more time getting the dog’s stuff ready to go than it will actually take to make the trip. Oy vey. The things we do for our kids.
I was halfway through a rant about people who get up early and go shopping in the middle of the night on “Black Friday” until I had one of those pesky moments of clarity. Such moments are painfully inconvenient, especially when they force you to throw 250 already written words over the side. Sadly, I couldn’t in clear conscience continue my rant under the circumstances.
Just as I was about to rhetorically ask who the people were that would get up in the middle of the night just to get things that were available for a few pennies more during normal business hours, I realized that I am one of those people. Sure, I’m not going to crawl out of bed to go somewhere like Target or Macy’s, but let there be a new iPhone or iPad hitting the shelves and I’ll be there in line before Bermuda is getting its first rays of morning sun.
Coming to terms with that little jewel stings a little. Even after years of getting up early on product launch days, I dodn’t feel like one of those people. Maybe it’s because instead of getting trampled to death jamming through the doors at the local Walmart, we’re more likely to be enjoying complimentary Starbucks and granola bars while we wait in a nice orderly queue. Sure, I’m obviously still as crazy the Black Friday crowd, but it’s a much more orderly and serene form of crazy. So there.
With the collapse of deficit reduction “supercommittee”, once again the inestimable Congress of the United States has failed to do, well, anything at all. Since their collective approval rating hovers around 9%, you’d think that almost every member of the House and 1/3 of the members of the Senate would be looking for work after the next election. The fact is that over the last twenty years, House members seeking reelection are victorious well over 90% of the time. For their re-electable colleagues in the Senate, that number is closer to 80%. Still better odds than you’ll ever get in Vegas (unless you’re the house, of course). Using some roughly accurate statistics, that’s a long way of saying that unless something dramatic changes between now and the election, the Congress we have now is largely going to be the Congress we have after the election. If that doesn’t make you queasy, you’re probably not paying much attention.
Partisans on the left and the right will tell you that this is the perfect reason we need term limits imposed on elected officials. I submit that it’s not so much an issue of term limits being needed as it is a clear message about how engaged electorate is. Cycle after cycle, a small percentage of eligible voters go to the polls and select the guy whose name they’ve heard before, or the one who has the prettiest yard signs, or the one who had the nicest looking piece of direct mail. In doing that, the voters just don’t stop to ask if their particular senator or representative is part of the problem. If that person is currently serving, here’s a hint: He or she is the problem and needs to be replaced. Two years from now, if that new individual has become part of the problem, they need to be replaced. And again until voters stumble on someone responsive to the needs of the country and who’s putting national priorities above regional benefits or party politics.
Until that happens, we’re going to continue to get the kind of government we deserve. That is to say a government that is hopelessly dysfunctional. Elections are won based on who shows up. If all most people do is bitch and complain and let the same 20% who always show up to vote have their way, well, we’ll get the same level dysfunction we’ve all come to know and loathe. If you’re pissed off, if you want something different then it’s on you to get educated, make smart decisions, and actually go to your polling place. If you can’t be bothered to do even that much, then you’re a bigger part of the problem then the asshats we keep electing.