Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#099 In which our hero gets another job, quickly.

In case you didn’t catch it in this post, I’m employed again.

I made a call the Friday I was fired, the guy called me back on Monday morning, I met with him later the same morning, and I started there the following Wednesday. Yeah, too strange.

And if you’re wondering what I’m doing now… well, I’m afraid you’re going to have to keep wondering. Thing is, I’m a little paranoid that this here Web site helped get me fired. It’s all in my head, I’m sure… I’m not actually high-profile enough to get dooced, but I still wonder… my firing came extremely quickly, and I did refer to my place of business in one past as a “shithole.” But you totally have to see it in context -- it wasn’t that bad a description! Honestly! Anyway, the bottom line is that if you know my full name, it’s not hard to find me on this site.

So, I’ve initiated radio silence when it comes to my new job. Partly because it’s just good sense, I mean, good Lord, does anyone really write freely about their co-workers any more? But also, I’m keeping mum because I really want to write about my new job! Nothing bizarre has happened yet, but it’s one of those jobs where you know it’s coming.

But, my boss seems like a nice guy, I have an office again (with a real door!) and in six months, if I haven’t already been fired again, I might even consider bringing in some personal affects to dress it up.


#098 In which our hero loses a friend.

Our dog died yesterday.

Anyone who’s read this site before knows of my love/hate relationship with that dog, strong emphasis on the hate. I had only known him for the last six years of his 13-year life, and the last two were a seemingly unending series of pain-in-the-ass events that involved me cleaning his urine, feces or vomit out of the carpet, or repairing whatever part of the house he destroyed that afternoon. Given this, and my none too kind remarks about him in the past, you might think that I’m happy that he’s gone.

Well, I’m not. I’m actually deeply saddened that he’s no longer here, and I find myself close to tears just writing this.

And before you even start, don’t think I don’t get the absolutely hypocritical assholeness of me feeling that way… I clearly didn’t appreciate the dog when he was alive, so I don’t have the right to feel sad now that he’s gone.

But y’know what? Tough shit. I do feel this way. I miss that dog.

Thursday he didn’t want to eat. Given his past stomach problems, this wasn’t anything surprising. We gave him some Rolaids and made plans to pick up some canned dog food from the vet the next morning. If this was the typical flare-up, a week of the special diet would clear it up. The next morning, Friday, he again didn’t want to eat. He wouldn’t even eat the Rolaids, which he usually takes no problem. But still, not a big cause for alarm. I got the little girl ready and took her to day care.

When I got there, The Scientist called me and asked me to come home. The dog was acting strange, and she was afraid he was dying. I rushed home.

After I had left, he had followed my wife down stairs. While she was attending to the littlest girl, he laid down in front of the door and crapped himself. When she let him out, he squatted to pee and fell over. He was still laying in the same spot when I got there.

His breathing was labored, and he seemed very weak. He was clearly in a bad way. I went out front to get the truck, and he followed me. Actually, he staggered toward the front of the house, and collapsed when he got to the driveway. After I lifted him up into the back of the Explorer, and he continued to pant. He always enjoyed car rides, so I hope that this was a comfortable spot for him. Of course, we were heading to the vet’s office, which he didn’t like at all.

When we got there, he was even worse. I lifted him down out of the truck into a sitting position, and he just fell over. The Scientist got the vet, who looked at Tucker right there in the parking lot. The poor dog tried to get up, but had no strength. The vet and I carried him into the examining room.

It didn’t take long for the vet to assess how bad he was. His temperature was low, his breathing even more labored, his pulse was weak. His gums were pale, meaning that even though he was panting like crazy, he wasn’t getting enough oxygen into his blood.

In the kindest possible way, the vet told us that it was clear that something major had happened. I had taken the dog into see this guy just a couple of weeks ago, and he seemed fine than. A major organ or system had failed, maybe his spleen had burst, it was possible that he had a tumor we didn’t know about and it was bleeding… it could be a lot of things, but the result was the same.

Tucker was dying right in front of us.

He didn’t seem to be in any pain, just appeared very tired and weak. For a 13-year-old dog he was in really good shape. I don’t know how long he could have lasted in his current state. Minutes? Hours? Neither my wife nor I really wanted to find out.

On our wishes, the vet put Tucker to sleep. His blood pressure was so low that it was difficult to find a vein. But he did, and within moments he went to sleep, his breathing evened out, and finally, while my wife held his head and looked him in the eye, his heart stopped.

Only now do I realize what I have lost. I have no idea why, but that dog loved me. I was unkind, and sometimes outright cruel to him… but he didn’t hold a grudge and never stopped loving me.

Often he would go to bed when my wife did, only to wonder back downstairs hours later to check on me. He’d give me a blinky look as if to say, “jeez, aren’t you coming to bed?” He wanted his people all in the same room, I guess so he didn’t have to worry about us.

He was excited to see me when I came home from work every day. Part of that was a little self-serving, I guess, since I was the designated dog walker. But more than that, I think he was happy that again, all his people were home and accounted for.

And yeah, he was often in the way, and he did dumb things sometimes… But I now see that it was only because he was such a good, obedient dog most of the time, that it just seemed worse when he was bad.

And while I have a lot of regrets about this dog -- God knows I should have been nicer to him -- that’s not the only reason I feel this way. I miss him. I miss having him check in on me, I miss seeing his big, fat head snoring in the doorway while I write, I miss his drive-by lickings while I’m crashed on the couch.

Our lives will be easier now, no doubt. We won’t have to worry about kenneling him when we’re out of town, we won’t have to worry about him eating more of the door when we’re at work. Our lives will be easier… but not better.

Definitely not better.

If there’s any saving grace in all of this it’s that The Scientist was at home full time for the last two months of his life. Because if that dog loved me, he loved my wife to a power of 10. She had that dog since he was six weeks old, and he was the biggest mama’s boy you’ve ever seen. I know this wasn’t the life he would have chosen -- new babies to compete with for attention, being corralled into a foyer because of his incontinence -- but I know he appreciated ever moment spent with her. Even if it was just being in the same room at the same time. He saw my wife every moment of every day until his last day… and even then she was the last thing he saw. If nothing else, I hope this brought him some happiness.

I’m sorry, Tucker. I wish I had been a better owner. I wish I had appreciated you more when you were here. All those times you were underfoot and in the way, you were just trying to tell me you loved me.

I get it now. Too late, I get it.


#097 In which our hero gets bad news. Again.

For the past two months I’ve been worrying -- to a varying degree -- about losing my job. My relative inexperience in this field, the fact that I haven’t been given a key to the building, the limited feedback I’ve received… it’s all added up to a stressful situation.

Well, the good news is I can stop worrying now.

I got fired last Friday. I’ve been laid off several times before, but this is the first time in my life I’ve been outright fired, as in, “You aren’t doing your job well enough so we’re going to find someone else that will.”

Y’know, before I moved to Cleveland, I had never left a job other than by my own volition. Then, I get up here and I’ve been laid off twice and now, fired. What does this tell us? That’s right -- Cleveland hates me.

On one hand I’m mightily pissed about being fired, and on the other, I don’t really blame them. I mean, here’s how clueless I am about being fired from this agency: I don’t know why I was fired. I mean, I was writing good stuff, I liked my co-workers and my co-workers seemed to like me… and I had only been there for two months; certainly that wasn’t enough time to really ascertain if I could excel at the position or not, right?

Last Friday around 4:50 pm (and isn’t that chickenshit? Why do employers wait until the end of the day at the end of the week? Here I was looking forward to the weekend, hanging out with the girls… then BOOM! You’re fired!) and one of the two partners calls me back into the conference room. The other partner is already sitting there. For one deliciously long moment I though they were going to talk to me about a Web site outline I had written earlier and submitted to them, requesting feedback. Then I sat down and suddenly the situation was very familiar.

“Craig,” one of them said, “We’re going to have to make room for another writer.” But still, my brain tried to steer me clear of what was coming, and for half a second I thought they were telling me that they were going to have to move my desk to make room for a second writer. Not so much, as it turns out.

What followed was about five minutes of them telling me that they had a vision for the future of the agency, but that I didn’t really fit the vision, and some other bullshit. Honestly, my brain was screaming “I can’t fucking believe we’re being fired AGAIN!” over and over, and I didn’t register a lot of what was said.

But the gist of it was that they needed a real informational architect, and my skills in that area were too soft, and they needed to hire someone more suitable to the position.

Now, here’s the thing: they are absolutely right. When it comes to being an informational architect, I really don’t know my ass from a hole in the ground. BUT - I made this clear when we initially interviewed. They ran an ad for a “Web Copywriter;” I applied for a position of Web Copywriter. This meant, I thought, writing for the Web, which I could do. They mentioned that they would like to see me develop additional navigational/organizational/hierarchical skills down the road, but not to worry, they would work with me on that. So I didn’t worry.

And, despite asking for feedback and suggesting that maybe I could attend a seminar or some-such, I never really got any guidance or assistance in building those skills. None. So, I’m more than a little pissed that after I was told to not worry about lacking certain skills, I was fired for lacking certain skills.

And while I’m ALL ABOUT blaming other people for my ills, I know I’m not guiltless in this one. Maybe a smarter guy could have picked up quicker on what they wanted. Or maybe I should have shown more self-motivation about learning these new skills. Frankly, I was a little lazy about it. But then again, I never received any feedback that would have led me to believe that I wasn’t doing an okay job.

After what needed to be said was said, there came a lull, which one of the partners filled by looking at me and saying, “Yeah, it sucks.”

And I came this close to coming completely unglued.

Despite my sometimes mercurial temperament, I’ve always been careful about burning bridges. This is Cleveland, after all, and the advertising community is fairly small and inbred. I could really do myself some damage if I unloaded on this guy. But for a second I completely saw red and lit up the proverbial torch and prepared to go to town. But I didn’t… rather, I packed up my shit and got the hell out of Dodge.

Not feeling the need to make a prolonged exit, I simply said to the room at large, “Well, I enjoyed working with you all while it lasted. I guess my time here is done.” The shocked faces of my co-workers were almost comical.

Speaking of my co-workers… two to them have since emailed me to say how sad they were that I got fired so unexpectedly and that they missed me. If you guys ever happen to run across this entry… thanks. It means more to me than you probably know. I worked at my last agency for nearly two years and not a single person said good-bye, kiss my ass or anything. It’s very cool that you reached out to me after only two months of working together. But anyway.

So I had to go home and drop the bomb on The Scientist. This will make the third time I’ve made her cry with news of my sudden unemployment. It gets really old and makes me feel completely shitty. It doesn’t help that we’re just about into the third month of her three-month maternity leave, aka the month in which she doesn’t get paid. So we don’t have any income of any sort coming in.

And just when things seemed their darkest, I made a single phone call, which led to me starting a new job today.

I know, WTF? More to come.