Shit. What the fuck did I just do to my logistics? Pursuant to Wow Much Travels, I assumed that I’d swing up to Linn County, snag some foods at the end-of-season barbecue, deposit my paycheck, and start back south towards points Californian enough for me to renew my car registration in person without dealing with whatever non-delivery nightmare Crossland might have in mind for me. Maybe the fuckers don’t mean to interfere with the US Mail, but they sure know how to interfere with the US Mail. They’re that fuck-you-son, and, probably more to the point, they’re that stupid. I’d also been planning to come back north midweek to partake of whatever bougie Boomer nonsense my parents and their friends with the summer place in Yachats have in mind for us. It was a bullshit sort of logistics, and a bit on the edge financially, but it seemed viable enough, mainly due to my finally taking possession of my baller-ass stoop labor wages. Maybe I’m a dipshit for thinking that it would somehow be wrong to take a draw on my paycheck, but it’s no joke that my budgeting is more disciplined on account of my taking the whole check in a lump sum at the end of the season.
But that’s the problem. It wasn’t really the end of the season. Mother-in-Law talked me into taking on some weeding work starting tomorrow. She tried to talk all ten or twelve of us who showed up for the barbecue into weeding for her, but I and the twelve-year-old brat were the only takers. It’s a five-dollar an hour job, give or take, because that’s how they roll in LinnCo. Seriously, that’s how MiL and her relatives budget these jobs: they figure that a row will take four hours to weed, so they bid it out to their employees for $20 and see if anyone bites. Then MiL acts all martyred by the business of entrepreneurship because her workforce isn’t what it might be, and maybe takes it out on the few of us who don’t take this job and shove it. Why on earth do we put up with this horseshit pay? We’re just keeping the dream alive. My dream is of payroll income, with $228 to go to my next Social Security credit; for my colleagues, it has more to do with not being bugged by their parents for being lazy, ungrateful, hopelessly indebted little brats. No way in hell could our bosses keep the wheels from falling off their operation at their prevailing wages without significant indirect subsidies from our parents.
Anyway, MiL put out a call for weeders, and I thought, fuck yeah, I can close that $228 gap because #WINNING. I told MiL about my Yachats travel plans and how they’d definitely limit my availability, but I made an explicit agreement to work tomorrow and a tentative agreement to work for most of the next couple of weeks. By the time I left the farm, I started thinking better of it. This is going to be a major money-loser for me short-term, since lodging and camping prices have floated skyward for the late summer rush. It takes me three days, tops, to recoup my gas expenses by driving to Reno or South Lake Tahoe this time of year, less if I sleep at rest areas, which I did on three nights in the past week, including one at Donner Pass because MOAR #WINNING. If the fools who had traffic backed up solidly for four miles into Sisters this afternoon won’t take advantage of Reno’s saturated lodging market to get shelter on the cheap, I will. Unless I get lowballed for a shit job, of course. I even agreed to buy gloves if I find that I don’t have any in my car. Fuck. Why the hell don’t these people have extra leather gloves on hand, given that they’re running a farm? It’s probably just that baller country lifestyle again. At least they’re just lowballing us instead of calling us “volunteers” or “harvest buddies” and getting us to work for free, like those shitheads in El Dorado Hills. I’ll grant them that. Really, everything that’s wrong with their pay grades is pedestrian compared to prevailing industry standards in Neo-Jeffersonian agriculture these days. $2 an hour is $2 an hour more than $0 an hour. I think I had days where I barely cleared $1.50 an hour.
I’m actually at the threshold of finding it less embarrassing to tell my bosses tomorrow that I’m sick of weeding because weeding sucks than to even try to explain any of the real reasons why I don’t want to weed for the next couple of weeks. The job itself probably won’t be too bad, but trying to explain why I don’t want to work for a bit over half of minimum wage in a lodging market that just got really expensive on me while I’m simultaneously facing my annual DMV derp out of state and have this bougie shit coming up in Yachats and a dental appointment back east a week and a half after that could get awkward. I oversold myself, but not just to MiL. I oversold myself to myself. Maybe I’ll tell them that weeding is way harder than I remember it. It won’t be. I expect farm work to be physically taxing. The rigors rarely blindside me.
But I’m not bringing my extraneous drama to work. This isn’t so much a matter of principle as a matter of not wanting to get tangled up in the gossip of local yokels in a state where I have absolutely no intention of settling. I’m a Californian, and that’s why my car’s a Californian. I’m not in it out of love for the California Derpartment of Motor Feehicles. Public service agency my ass. I find it useful to assume that the entire marginal cost of motor vehicle registration in California relative to Oregon goes irretrievably into a sinkhole of official waste and fraud. That way I’ll be pleasantly surprised if I ever learn that some portion of these funds has been retrieved for some public purpose. Now that I’m enfranchised in California, I’m not giving it up, even if being domiciled in Rancho Cordova and simultaneously registered to vote in Eureka is headspinning. I have an almost antebellum conception of state citizenship, whereby I don’t have to stay in California but I do have to live there. In less obnoxiously lofty terms, it’s a matter of two things: not being assimilated into the hideous, flatulence-savoring narcissism of what passes for Oregon civics, and being there to remind the DMV and California’s less dysfunctional remainder that, bitch, I’m your constituent.
I don’t feel any civic compulsion to return to California in person to renew my car registration in some latter-day reenactment of the Bible’s erroneous account of Roman census-taking. If I had a viable mailing address other than the Crossland Economy Studios, I’d use it, but based on past experience, I cannot trust anyone at Crossland not to majorly fuck shit up with mail addressed to me. The California DMV generally does all right on its own narrow voodoo, but I don’t trust it to have the institutional intelligence to deal with special instructions on a registration renewal, such as an alternate mailing address. It’s a rather Soviet agency, and I say that having cleared customs at Sheremetyevo Airport and tried to buy zucchini at a Produkty store in St. Petersburg where the clerk (a dead ringer for The Rock) kept telling me, “Look at this: all our vegetables are disgusting.” Basically, if I don’t deal with these losers in person, someone in the chain of custody, and probably not the USPS, is liable to seriously jam me up by being a useless idiot. The various fucktards who might have a veto over my new registration, either at the DMV or at Crossland, are the sort of process-oriented nitpickers who don’t even understand the process they’ve been hired to execute.
TL;DR: I have to go to California within a week or pay a late renewal penalty of whatever the fuck the DMV’s inscrutable charts authorize. I’m not all like OMG I totally have to go back to California this week because I miss it so much even though I’ll be flying out of San Francisco in two weeks and was there just yesterday; it’s really just that I have to take my ass into a Brezhnev politburo sort of office building to make sure that some tragic but horrifically bumptious low-level functionary does his fucking job, and that this involves a drive of two or three hundred miles each way.
Also, I didn’t know that Mother-in-Law would be trying to hire us back for weeding until six hours ago. I hate to say this, but I really should be more noncommittal.
There’s something peripheral to my impending yearly penance at the DMV that may sound petty but is very much worth my keeping in mind. It’s that I do not want my parents seeing my car. Parking it at, say, the Sacramento Airport (where all cars are always welcome forever, it seems) would be a good way to keep it out of their field of view while I’m hanging out with them and their friends in Yachats. I’m not embarrassed that it looks like a piece of shit per se, but I do not relish the thought of being humiliated about it. They can afford nicer cars than mine. Fine. This honestly doesn’t bother me. If it did, I’d clean all the piles of junk out of my car, replace the missing door handle instead of taping it over every month or two, etc. I do not, however, need my parents and their affluent friends snarking at me or condescending to me or expressing alarm about the poor condition of my car. It’s none of their fucking business. The last time my mom saw it, she asked me if I’d locked it. I’d have locked myself out if I had, which is how the left rear door handle ended up in the trunk back in November, but of course I lied and said that I had locked it. It was none of her business then, either, but she would have made it her business for the whole goddamn afternoon if I had told her the truth. Minor car repairs, like new door handles and keys, are not on the agenda. I have more compelling uses for my money. Civics are close to indestructible, so of course I’m deferring preventative maintenance. It’s what the poors do with their cars. My parents might notice if they paid any attention to people of normal means. Yes, I need a dedicated extra source of funding if I’m going to pay for maintenance that isn’t critical. Joe Dirtbag and the Family Shrew got just such a source in the amount of $15,000 to get a new car, so if I’m not in line for anything like that, I won’t be expediting cosmetic and convenience repairs on a car that is really quite reliable.
The deal with these friends of my parents in Yachats is that they summer there and they haven’t seen me in two decades. This upcoming trip feels just a bit much like a sort of delayed debutante ball. Debutante balls are for Optimates, of course. The way Brahmins roll is that they present their precious snowflakes individually in small-group settings. They’re coy about their reasons for doing this, but one of them is to fish for compliments from their peers for having raised such well-adjusted children. My dad actually told me once that he and my mom want to be able to tell their friends that I’m successful. Fuckin’ A. Couldn’t they just lie to the less engaged ones if it’s that goddamn important to them? That wouldn’t be admirable or honorable, but at least it would let me off the hook for a while.
What’s going on here is that all these very successful Brahmins insist on acting like their grown children aren’t downwardly mobile. Optimates’ children are in fact less likely to be downwardly mobile due to a combination of aggressive conformism and unabashed, competent influence-peddling by entire families. Brahmins are chronically anxious about their inability to achieve the generational success enjoyed by Optimates, even though they’re aghast whenever they hear of the amoral, craven schemes that Optimates use to ensure this generational success. They have an entire television series about it, you know: Downton Abbey. One might instead call it Look at These Useless Aristocratic Bastards, since it certainly isn’t an abbey in the classic sense. They want the generational success of aristocracy for their families without the moral tarnish that comes with being an aristocrat, largely having to do with overtly treating one’s socioeconomic inferiors like shit. For a true Optimate, downward mobility is a tall order: look at George W. Bush. For a Brahmin, it’s much easier: look at the Upper East Side’s selective preschools, which absolutely shouldn’t exist but absolutely do. Does a tenth-generation white shoe family need crazy shit like that?
The Brahmins have neither the aggressive amorality nor the institutional juice to elide the failures of their naturally downwardly mobile children into something falsely resembling great success. They try, though, and they make asses of themselves. And they leave their kids feeling like shit for not living up to expectations. It looks like I have to go keep up appearances with these people in Yachats for a few days. It isn’t that they’re jerks or anything, but they do summer in Yachats, and I’m once again #SummeringAtTheCrossland. Our stations in life say something about us, and they say that something to others who live at other stations. I drive a car full of old newspapers and clothes and Arco fast food wrappers to subminimum-wage farm jobs. These friends of ours who summer in Yachats summer in Yachats. Yes, Taylor, it’s an excellent verb. The rising generation of Brahmins is having difficulty with financial independence and family formation and that sort of thing. Maybe we should just tell our parents and their friends to be grateful that we aren’t every last one of us lost in the sauce and snowed to hell on opiates instead of being all twee about how we’re chipper and successful when many of us are in fact hot messes for various structural reasons. Our parents aren’t crazy about looking at the structural shit, though. It’s one of the abysses that gazes back, with troubling policy implications, including the moral bankruptcy of credential inflation and bourgeois supremacy in general.
If the solution to overly smug bougies talking shit about my car is to park my car yet again at the Sacramento Airport economy lot, shit, that’s easy. Drive to the airport. Park the car. Lock it, or don’t. Catch Yolobus to the train station. Rock me, momma, like a northbound train running two hours late due to host railroad herple derple derp. Ride that shit up to Albany. It takes some time, and it costs some money, but I’m not exactly about to leave big bucks on the table if I express second thoughts about this lowball weeding gig. I doubt it’ll get me to that next Social Security credit regardless. My bosses are cheaper than the seaside summer crowd can imagine. It’s fucking cracker-ass Linn County, and they’re quasi-Jeffersonian blatnoys.
Maybe it’s time to keep the dream of payroll income alive with someone else, if I can find anyone. Bougie ain’t handing me that, of course. Why? Because derp. They aren’t the sort of deep thinkers they fancy themselves, I’m afraid.