As I write, I’m on a train out of Fresno, but still telling my dad that I’m en route from Reno to Fairfield, just in the hope of not alarming him with excessive stories of Wow Much Travels. True story, I came down here in the hope of saving a few dollars, and at worst I came out a few dollars behind for the week. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to explain any of this to half-attuned, half oblivious helicopter parents.
Meanwhile, my dad threw a wrench into my travel plans with no prior notice by telling me this morning that he wanted me to meet him at Fairfield instead of Burlingame so that he can add me as an authorized driver of his rental car and have me do the last hundred or so miles of driving into the Bay Area, including a stop at the house in Palo Alto. He got kind of worked up when I initially objected to this proposal for sheer logistical reasons, because he was starting a drive of several hundred miles on frighteningly little sleep and in a state of significant fatigue. If I’d expected him to attempt something that reckless, I’d have gone north a few days ago to meet him and be available to relieve him behind the wheel. He probably won’t come to any grief on the way to Fairfield, but I’m still quite a bit calmer about the prospect of his endangering himself and others in an effort to stay on schedule and save common carrier fare than he’d be if I admitted that I’ve actually been in Merced and Fresno for the past few days, not Reno.
The other thing he mentioned to me this morning was that he was delayed by close to an hour because right as he was about to leave, Joe Dirtbag remembered that a pile of mail addressed to me had accumulated at his house. Well, you don’t fucking say. I’ve only started receiving mail there in 2007 or 2008, and, as the it’s-the-current-year crowd enjoys averring, it’s 2016.
This numbnuts can mean perfectly well and still not help but interfere with the US Mail. My dad would probably insist that any good intention on Joe Dirtbag’s part makes this negligence acceptable and that I’m being too demanding. No, it doesn’t, and no, I’m not. Joe Dirtbag and the Family Shrew have enough space to permanently store all the mail I’ve ever received at their house without it cluttering their shit up. They have free and clear title to a two-acre woodlot and a couple thousand square feet of inhabitable or improvable indoor space, and I’m homeless. It is financially impossible for them to do unto me mail mitzvahs worth as much on the open market as the minimum-wage value of the free labor I’ve provided for them. Entitlement isn’t my expecting that they not forget to unite me with my mail at the earliest convenience, as opposed to their earliest take your ass down to the Post Office right now and forward me everything. No. Entitlement is putting the collected contents of my storage unit and my Civic into a used reefer box van and hooking up the van’s HVAC unit to one of their electrical accounts. Even handing them an invoice for the van would be only partial entitlement: no van that I’d buy for mere storage purposes would be worth half the work I’ve done for these disingenuous freeloaders.
These shitbirds may actually think that they’re generous, beautiful souls. They may also actually think that they’re more or less with it. I’d like to give them some benefit of the doubt, at least from time to time, but there’s no way to soberly interpret their behavior without conceding that they’re either morally self-indulgent or out of their fucking minds. Forgetting to hand over accumulated mail as planned until the designated intermediary is just about to leave on an all-day drive out of town should be a major oh-shit moment. Anyone who turns into Forgetful Jones about other people’s mail and doesn’t have unambiguous clinical senility deserves to be taken to the woodshed. In any half-functioning middle-class environment, you just don’t fucking do that.
If I may risk getting a bit emo-dramatic, this recurrent bullshit involving my mail is a troubling example of the rising tide of low-class dysfunction that has been swamping more and more corners of American society over the last forty or so years. It’s a degree of shambling dereliction that almost everyone I knew as a child in Palo Alto in the 1980’s would have found alarming. This was at a time when Palo Alto merely tended towards affluence. These values of conscientiousness where conscientiousness mattered were not functions of money; they were functions of a consensus belief in not being a fucking loser asswipe when handling other people’s legal and financial documents. Frankly, I’m dealing with relatives who wandered away from the Mid-Peninsula at the tail end of the Great Compression and found a place to settle that has been abandoned to exactly the sorts of shambling losers who are unwilling to hold the line against ruinous chaos, even when they perfectly well can. It’s been abandoned to people like themselves.
At least some of the neighborhoods in Fresno that are roughly as chaotic are teeming with streetwalkers. Oregonians are totally eww yucky poo about hookers, but not about leaving a take-out container of fettuccine Alfredo out on a counter for three days. And there’s no reason why you can’t properly run a restaurant while adhering to food safety practices of that caliber at home.
Prostitution doesn’t get that dirty until some twit is financially induced to shit on Charlie Sheen’s chest. Maybe hookers should run our restaurant kitchens and farms as well. I know, I said the other week that I also want them on the city council. But at least prostitution is a line of work that can be done on a flexible part-time schedule. Overbearing filth with fifty shades of gathering senility is a full-time lifestyle.
A blessed Ash Wednesday to you and yours, too.