A friend of mine once stated that if we were really punk rockers, that if we really bought into all the themes the bands we worshipped were presenting about rejecting mainstream culture, then we would go live in the woods in little huts and live off nature. We’d bathe in streams, kill deer with our bare hands, and just generally ignore the rest of society, or the “norms,” as we called them. It was a novel idea, but not one I could embrace. As much as I hate mainstream culture, I hate being dirty even more.
I never could fully adopt all the beliefs of the punk culture. I loved the music and the ideas it presented, but too much of it seemed like idealistic crap. I could never live in complete comfort apart from society, struggling from meal to meal just to stick it to the faceless corporate assholes that run the world. My parents weren’t hippies. I asked my father once if he went to Woodstock. He laughed.
“I was already married by then. I didn’t care about any of that shit.”
This statement is a good view into how I was raised. Yes, life is unfair. Yes, a bunch of pricks run the world. However, if you spend all your time worrying about that crap and trying to right those wrongs, you probably won’t get as much enjoyment out of life. Play their stupid game. Work nine to five, make your money, and then go spend that money however you want. Hang around with people you like and just ignore the assholes who try to ruin your life.
A reasonable philosophy, I think, and one I’ve had no trouble accepting as I get older. However, there have been plenty of moments that have made me want to throw it all away and run off into the wilderness. Take yesterday, for instance.
As usual, I arrived for my cashier job at Eckerd, America’s Drug Store, ten minutes early as I do every Sunday morning. I knew I had to count my drawer, get the newspapers out of the back, open the doors, and deal with the angry mob of people who thought we opened earlier on Sundays that had been waiting to get their prescriptions for an hour. It was an annoyance I had grown accustomed to. I did it every Sunday. Hell, I did it every weekend. Just under twenty hours every weekend, just so I could have enough money in my pocket to make it through my classes all week without starving. I sacrificed many a party, concert, and happening for Eckerd. I usually grumbled about this every Sunday, trying desperately to force a smile when that angry mob filtered in through the door.
Yesterday, however, was different. I arrived to find someone else behind my register. I was called into the office, where I was informed that my drawer from the previous day had been short ten dollars. The managers had looked everywhere, counted and recounted my drawer several times, but to no avail. Ten dollars was missing, and I was accountable. They had no choice but to write me up. The only problem was that this wasn’t the first time this had happened. In fact, it was about the third. You know the old saying, “three strikes and you’re out?” My manager told me I was suspended without pay.
At the time, I really didn’t know how to react. It is very possible that in ten hours of ringing up diapers and Nyquil that I accidentally mistook a ten dollar bill for a twenty. How could I be so irresponsible? How could I not notice that? I couldn’t believe it, but it had happened before. On the other hand, maybe the managers made a mistake. What if they misplaced that ten dollars? Maybe it was their damn fault for not making me count my drawer myself. Maybe I wouldn’t be so lazy if I was the one doing the totals at the end of the night.
After a few hours of worrying, that little voice of punk rock reason spoke up in my head: “Fuck those assholes!” Yeah, fuck them! It’s ten goddamn dollars! How much money do they make a day? Wait a minute-Eckerd is owned by J.C. Penney! They probably make more money in one day than I’ll make all year! I thought about a friend I have that works at an independently owned video store. He was short once on his drawer, but they let it slide. I’d feel a whole lot worse if I was making this mistake for a little mom and pop business. I’ve met those people from the video store. That’s all they have. I’d give them the cash out of my pocket.
I was considering doing that at Eckerd. I was just going to give them ten bucks to even everything out, mostly because I didn’t want to get written up and lose a week’s worth of meals. I also felt bad, though. I wanted to make up for this error I made. I opted not to give them the cash. In a corporate entity such as Eckerd, you’re guilty until proven innocent. If I offered them ten dollars, they’d take that as an admission that I had stolen it in the first place. WHAMMO! I’d get written up anyway, and probably canned.
I was even more pissed off at my Eckerd overlords when I thought about all the cretins they had hired since I worked there that totally screwed them over on purpose. One girl pocketed cosmetics all the time. One of the pharmacists, a recovering dope fiend, was hooking up minors with Prozac. One of the photo people got caught with kiddie porn. And here I was, just trying to make an honest buck, trying really hard not to completely blow my minimum wage job that I hate more than ten thousand Hitlers because I don’t want to starve to death, and it doesn’t work out anyway.
It’s times like this that I realize life really ISN’T fair, and I can’t ignore it. There’s no rhyme or reason to anything. Douchebags like Fred Durst and Ted Turner get to do whatever the hell they want without any repercussions. Meanwhile, miners get trapped in freezing water for days on end. Innocent children get kidnapped. I have to scrounge between the cushions of my parent’s couch for gas money.
If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the woods.