Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A different kind of redemption

Red: These walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That's institutionalized.

Heywood: Shit. I could never get like that.

Prisoner: Oh yeah? Say that when you been here as long as Brooks has.

Red: Goddamn right. They send you here for life, and that's exactly what they take. The part that counts, anyway.

My first day back to cubical land there was an envelope with my name and my mailbox address with cube city.  After plowing thru a mountain of emails of go-ons while I partook in a spring vacation of sorts, the envelope was getting lonely and needed to be opened since the usual plastic toys of de-motivation a rubber binder encouraging you to get healthy, a stuffed animal promoting the new baseball stadium, or a ruler with the words "You Measure Up!" (I know I do, and my wife loves me for it POW!).
Inside was a piece of paper folded over hastily twice with black and white lettering stating "YOU ARE APPRECIATED!".  After opening the fold a business card fell out saying I could receive a free health pellet if I rung the bell down at the cafeteria.  Inside the "card" was a "THANK YOU!" written in block 64 sized Arial Unicode font with the copied signature of a manager so far removed from my position I'd met her only thru large multi-departmental meetings. 

My choice of poster:  Jessica Biel
Despite my fingers currently moving outside my conscious thought and still struggling to calibrate my body to an upright position after working a string of nights that blended into morning, I yearned to be on my couch eating triscuits at seven a.m. finishing up a piece on how someone took $11 and turned it into $45,000 by flipping over virtual poker cards for 16 hours.  I don't have a poster of Marilyn Monroe or Raquel Welsh laid across my cell.  Instead there's photos of my family that protect my hand-dug tunnel in which I move deftly back-and-forth from when I am called.  Crawling through that tunnel while carefully dragging behind me in a waterproof tarp tied to my foot by a length of rope, whatever stream of pop culture and as many witty remarks one can make as the virutal cards fall the same but different ways.    
Red: [narrating] Forty years I been asking permission to piss. I can't squeeze a drop without say-so.

Do I despise "working for the man"?  Not at all, I enjoy the people here, I like the company otherwise I wouldn't still be here after being employed there for almost half of my life.  Heck, I'm going back to school for a better position here. But, there are walls.  Those walls file people into their places of expertise to carve out profit for the collective in the most impersonal way possible beyond the immediate co-workers which you share break times and grazing days of bringing in your mom's freshly baked banana bread for everyone to share.  Beyond that you are an ID number, a slot under which accountants list you as a salary and insurance expense.  Some people live their whole lives under that guise that the company appreciates them by receiving little trinkets and a free fruit cup.  They work their 30 years, draw a pension to pay for cable, and move off to a double-wide in an Arizona retirement community to play bridge at the rec room for a dime a point on Thursdays.
But, I wanted more when someone gave me a rock hammer a few years ago.  I wanted to do something that maybe perhaps only a few people read but least it would have my name and my creativity (or lack of) listed under the by-line.  It meant sacrifice of time and a few "no, I need to leave early tonight" but the return on the time investment cannot be measured tangibly.  Getting personal thanks, being able to hoist a beer with those who were up with your in those wee hours and share a story related to the cards or how their daughter managed to paint half the bathroom with fingernail polish after passing out after a long morning half way through Cinderella on DVD (that one happened on Friday).  You feel as part of a team, unlike the emblazment of a serial number connected to several passwords to perform work with zero personalization required nor wanted.
Red: [narrating] Andy Dufresne - who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.

I am honored to work with such folks as Otis, Dr. Pauly, Change100, Short Stack Shamus, Falstaff, Jen Newell, and F-Train who bring the poker news daily to your doorstep without possiblity of your neighbor's sprinkler or cutie wittle woof-woof rendering the paper illegible.  These are professionals and importantly friends and for a couple of weeks a year that tunnel opens up for an amateur to slide thru and enjoy the open air.  I hope you have enjoyed the coverage of SCOOP at the PokerStarsBlog thus far as week two is half way thru and I'll be starting up again on Friday.

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