Over this past weekend, I wrote about Thanksgiving this year, and all that I was thankful for. I was filled with good cheer. This time last year was a very different story.
I was assigned to pick up a car from a man in Ogden, Utah on the day before Thanksgiving. I was thrilled that I'd be done and planned to drive the car to Ohio and have turkey dinner with Smokey. He is a very good cook, and can put on quite a spread. The car had to be in Cleveland on Saturday afternoon. Oh, I'd have to drive all day and all night to make it, but I'd be in Columbus by late evening on Thursday.
I'd called the man, a Mr. Peron, to notify him of when I'd be coming. It wasn't until I arrived in Ogden at 9am on Wednesday that he gave me the bad news on the phone. "I've decided to hang onto the car until tomorrow. I'm not done with it yet."
This put a lump in my throat. "Excuse me sir, but I was instructed to get it today. I'm on a schedule."
"I don't give a damn about your schedule. You hear me? I just got fired from my job, and now they're taking my company car. But you don't care, do you? No one cares. So I called my ex-supervisor and told him that I'm keeping it until Thursday at 10am. And oh, by the way, he approved it, so there's not a damn thing you can do about it. Stuff that in your peace pipe and smoke it, amigo!" He abruptly hung up the phone on me.
I called Riff to verify this, and ended up getting cussed out for not being aggressive enough. I told Riff that I had to feel a bit of compassion that the man lost his job right at the holiday season, and Riff said, "You're weak and worthless, and you always will be. You think that kindness to others is a virtue? Well I'm telling you that its a character flaw, and you are a loser. You'll never get anywhere in life by showing sympathy and understanding to others. Oh, hey, Bill, who is that looking out at you from the mirror? Why its Bill the loser!"
The Internet assisted me in finding a cheap motel to stay overnight very near Mr. Peron's house. It was very cold out, so I called a taxi the next morning to take me there and arrived at 10am. Clearly, there was no one at home. I buttoned my coat up tight and took out a book to read. I sat waiting on the porch of the house, blowing little clouds from my mouth into the crisp chilly air.
At 12 noon sharp, the family pulled into their driveway and began to unload bags of food. It appeared they had picked up a fully cooked dinner from a restaurant somewhere in Ogden. "Oh my God," said Mr. Peron when he saw me. "Can't you leave a man alone? I can't believe the way you're harrassing me about this car. For the love of Mike, you are one persistent little bastard. Do you mind? We're not Mormons, you know! Please let us eat our Thanksgiving dinner in peace and then you can take the car. Now go away!"
I walked down the block, but soon realized I was too far to walk to anyplace where I could go inside and wait. Plus there aren't all that many places open on Thanksgiving day. So I just walked circles around his block, hoping to warm up. I took out my cell phone and called Smokey.
"Bill, you turkey, when are you getting here."
"That's the thing, Smokey, I don't think I'm gonna make it."
"I was supposed to pick this car up over 24 hours ago, and the man still hasn't released it to me."
"So he's a real dick, huh? Then you just tell him that you by God need that car and snatch the keys away from him."
"No man, I mean it. You gotta take the bull by the horns, tell him what's what. It's Thanksgiving day, and I was counting on you to be here. You're supposed to be bringing me a bottle of Maker's Mark, you know."
"I know. And believe me, I want to be there."
"I've got stuff on the stove I need to tend to, call me when you get on the road."
After hanging up, I walked back to the house and rang the doorbell. An hour had passed, and I felt that it was time I got the car. Mr. Peron came to the door with a disgusted look on his face. "You just don't give up, do you Auto Boy? You are a pest who just keeps poke-poke-poking til you drive a man crazy. Well, the gas tank is on empty, so good luck to you. Here's the keys." And he threw the keys over my shoulder and out into the yard.
"I am really sorry you lost your job, sir, and I want to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving."
"Screw you!" he said, and slammed the door in my face.
I got the keys and started the car. The gas needle was on "E", but luckily there was enough gas to get me to the closest gas station and fill up. I didn't get to Smokey's until late Friday night, but there were still plenty of leftovers. Mr. Peron was rude and seemed intent on ruining my day. But I chose to keep Thanksgiving alive in my heart, and to try my best to be understanding about how painful it is to lose a job in today's economy.